Meet four new NAPS Board members (from left) Martha Tallent, Eliot Levinson, Sandy Henbest, and Rita Johnson
Sandy describes herself as a “Campfire Girl forever.” She credits her mother, the group’s leader, for teaching her and her friends to camp, fish, hike, bike, boat, and cook over a fire. Sandy developed a love of the great outdoors at a young age and has been reluctant to come indoors since then, still an avid cyclist, kayaker, sailor, swimmer, and water skier. The Northern Neck provides plenty of opportunities for Sandy to enjoy nature and practice her strong sense of stewardship and protection of the environment. She is not new to NAPS, having served for many years in a variety of roles including participating in the roadside clean-up, organizing the NAPS fall social, interviewing NAPS scholarship students, among others. The Horsehead transfer station “Too Good to Throw Away” Shed Project, which NAPS helped fund and construct, was her brainchild and one of many recycling efforts she led. Before “retirement”--and we must use that term loosely when describing Sandy--she was an elementary school teacher first and then a real estate agent. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and earned her BA in Elementary Education at Michigan State University. We are grateful that Sandy now calls Northumberland County home and that she has joined the board of NAPS.
Also a retired educator, Rita Wright Johnson moved permanently to the Northern Neck in 2001 after retiring from Fairfax County Public Schools as a 7th grade science teacher. During that time, she took her students camping near Tangier Island with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Teaching about “Saving the Bay” drew her to this area and led to her decision to retire near the Bay. NAPS was the first organization Rita joined after moving to Mallard Bay in Heathsville. She became involved originally as the first webmaster after designing a web page for NAPS and gradually became more involved with school programs supported by NAPS. She also became very active in the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum as a docent and general volunteer. Rita’s other interests include singing with the Bethany UMC choir and the biannual concert of the Festival Hall Chorale. She rounds out her volunteerism in the NNK as a member of the Northumberland Lion’s Club and the Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern Foundation. Rita’s three children and eight grandchildren remain her greatest joy. Her grandsons Brady and Teagan, 7th and 8th graders at Northumberland, helped inspire her interest in working with the school. She is eager to become more involved in NAPS as a board member and hopes to be able to write grant proposals to fund future programs.
NAPS also welcomes to the board Eliot Levinson, a retired school principal and, for the past 25 years, leader of an educational technology consulting firm. He has worked with hundreds of educators and is now focused on smaller schools that lack adequate access to technology. He is committed to bringing his love of science and technology into the schools and is planning to partner with Northumberland’s new media center director Liz Hood on a number of STEM projects. He also serves on the boards of the YMCA and the Friends of the Library. A resident of the Northern Neck since 2006, Eliot lives on a farm in Northumberland County where he raises cows and trains service dogs.
Similar to Sandy, Martha’s love of the outdoors began when she was a Girl Scout in Southern California where she was born and raised. Eventually, Martha made her way to the east coast, living in Bethesda, Maryland first and then Reedville full time for the past 20 years. Her previous affiliation with NAPS includes chairing the annual social, participating in creek clean-ups, and working alongside her husband, Steve, former NAPS president. Now on the board, Martha serves as the chair of the Scholarship Committee. Another former teacher, Martha taught high school physical education in California for 10 years and went on to earn advanced degrees in both education and social work. In addition to her work with NAPS, Martha somehow finds time to be active in the following local organizations: Northumberland Preservation Inc. (Shiloh School); Rappahannock Concert Association; Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation; Reedville Fishermen’s’ Museum; and the Greater Richmond Chorus of Sweet Adelines. Martha has traveled abroad extensively and remains an enthusiastic RV explorer.