A Beautiful Day to Celebrate Nature at the NAPS Earth Day Festival
The 7th annual Earth Day Festival in Heathsville welcomed hundreds of visitors to enjoy dozens of exhibits, demonstrations, displays and activities Saturday, April 16, 2022. The event was free and open to the public.
Hosted by NAPS (Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship) and Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern in conjunction with the first Heathsville Farmers Market of the season, the eco-friendly event celebrated the Northern Neck’s natural beauty and showcased the area’s environmental stewardship resources.
At the entrance to the festival area, attendees were invited to add a “leaf” to the “Earth Day Pledge Tree” by writing down their individual pledges to help the environment this year. Each person who made a pledge was offered a complimentary NAPS reusable grocery bag. Young and old alike added a bit of art to the "Draw on Me" board.
NAPS’ Julie Hendrickson reinforced the anti-litter theme donning her “Duchess of the Ditches” robe covered with discarded bottles, cans and bags, and topped with a trash-laden crown.
The Northern Neck Electric Cooperative returned this year with its display showing how little energy LED light bulbs use compared to incandescent bulbs of the same brightness. It also showcased its Cooperative Sunshare program, allowing members to purchase blocks of solar-generated energy.
The Northumberland High School Physics Solar Lab exhibit demonstrated the components needed to convert energy from the sun into electricity. The NAPS-sponsored labs will be used year after year with new students to rebuild and reconfigure (see related article: Northumberland High School Students Build Solar Labs)
The Virginia Bluebird Society promoted its conservation and education projects, including establishing and supporting a statewide network of bluebird trails, nesting boxes and protection of bluebirds and other cavity nesters from predators.
The Northern Neck Master Naturalists promoted their program of training volunteers as educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. For more information about the courses and other outreach efforts, visit its website.
The Northern Neck Beekeepers Club educated visitors on the benefits of bees and beekeeping, including honey and beeswax products.
The Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Friends’ impressive display of wildlife attracted both human and canine visitors. The organization’s mission is to raise awareness of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge through education and support.
Northern Neck Master Gardeners promoted their Shoreline Evaluation Program – a community service initiative informing waterfront property owners about shoreline protection and stabilization options. The program recommends installing and maintaining “living shorelines” whenever possible due to the environmental benefits.
The Northern Neck Land Conservancy discussed the environmental and tax benefits of placing land into a conservation easement, preserving its beauty and ecological value in perpetuity. It has also announced that its Boots & Barbecue event is back and scheduled for September 17, 2022, at Waterloo Farm in King George, VA.
A crew from the Northern Neck Native Plant Society showcased a variety of plants recommended for area gardens and landscapes. The use of native plants not only protects beneficial pollinators and other plant and animal species native to the Northern Neck, but can save considerable time and money, as they tend to be hardy, low-maintenance, and require less water and pesticides.
TOGA (Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association) featured its familiar tank demonstrating how oysters filter the water. Visitors to the exhibit also learned about classes on oyster gardening in Virginia and how to purchase spat, growing cages and other materials.
The Friends of the Rappahannock tent focused on the importance of a clean watershed to support vibrant wildlife and aquaculture. Visitors were encouraged to volunteer for future projects and programs.
The new Northumberland County Anti-Litter Committee urged visitors to create or join Adopt-A-Highway groups, and informed them on the committee’s initiatives, including a “tire amnesty day” to collect and recycle discarded tires.
The NAPS tent displayed several recent initiatives, including its campaign to reduce pollution from disposable plastic straws and grocery bags. Visitors were invited to join its annual fall creek cleanup and other events and projects.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a bigger crowd of visitors,” said NAPS president, Mike Ahart. “The exhibits were wonderful…I can’t wait until next year’s festival.”
Full sized images in slideshow below