Washington column for July 20

Blue Ridge PRISM

The Blue Ridge PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to reducing the negative impact of nonnative invasive plants on the health of the natural and agricultural environment in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Effective invasive plant control is a community and neighborhood issue, because these aggressive plants know no boundaries — flowing water, birds, hikers, vehicles, and animals scatter as the plants spread their seeds. Steps can be taken to eradicate invasive plants from a park or private property — only to have the area rapidly become reinfested from neighboring land. Community-wide action is needed. Through cooperative action, the PRISM aims to enable people to reclaim the Blue Ridge region’s natural heritage and to become stewards of the lands that are our birthright.

Rappahannock County landowners have been active in PRISM, garnering a significant number of the anti-invasive support grants that PRISM facilitated. Over the last year, numerous people from Rappahannock County have expressed interest in creating some kind of invasive management program specifically for Rappahannock County.

The PRISM leadership team has agreed to have its coming quarterly meeting in Rappahannock and to combine the meeting with a first organizing meeting to explore creating a county-wide PRISM stewardship area. Mike DiLello, conservation manager at The Farm at Sunnyside, has volunteered to be on point for the county-specific program.

If you are interested in the PRISM project or a potential county-wide stewardship area in Rappahannock, please participate in the Rappahannock meeting on Saturday, July 22 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rappahannock County Library in Washington. Topics: PRISM program updates, guest speakers, a plant identification clinic, and a Rappahannock-specific segment.

The Blue Ridge PRISM is a project of the Shenandoah National Park Trust, which is a 501c3 nonprofit and the fiscal sponsor of the Blue Ridge PRISM.

Enhancing children

The Child Care and Learning Center (CCLC), a non-profit childcare center in Rappahannock County, strives to stay at the top of innovative research to promote the optimal growth and development of its children.

This past spring, CCLC was included in the groundbreaking LENA Grow project through its partnership with Teaching Strategies, LLC, the developer of its curriculum. The LENA Grow program enables CCLC to accurately measure the amount of talking going on in the classrooms serving infants, toddlers, and two year olds, gives immediate feedback, and provides personal mentoring to the classroom teachers.

This resulted in validating the high level of language immersion already present, and identifying classroom modifications that could increase language development for the children, ages 6 months through age 3, said Lisa Pendleton.

Two-year-olds singing and clapping to a steady beat wearing the LENA vests. Photo by Lisa Pendleton

According to a study by Hart and Risley, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children: “In four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words.”

This 30-million-word gap can be eliminated if we know what to do, and LENA Grow is bridging this gap by tracking what happens in a classroom and then offering suggestions for modifications to increase language activity. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Sunday night featured the LENA program, as it is being used in Rhode Island.

CCLC’s experience with LENA Grow was such a positive one that one teacher reported: “It made me more aware of what and how I communicated with the children.” Another said, “If it wasn’t for LENA I wouldn’t have picked up that one of my students didn’t communicate as much as the others. I am thrilled to know how I can make a difference with what I’ve learned through this program.”

4-H appreciation

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Rappahannock 4-H Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on Tuesday, August 1, at the Rappahannock County Park from 5 to 7 p.m. 4-H will provide hot dogs, chips, watermelon and water, while the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office will be making snow cones!

There will also be a moon bounce for the kids. Please bring a covered dish to share. Please be sure to RSVP by July 24, 2017.

Food Pantry school

According to Mimi Forbes, the manager, of the Food Pantry, Rappahannock County children will be returning to school on August 10 and all students need supplies to get the new year off to a great start. There are families that will struggle to provide all of the needed supplies.

The Rappahannock Food Pantry is once again asking for donations of school supplies. The pantry serves about 100 families with school-aged children. Please see the list below of items requested by teachers. Donations can be dropped off at the pantry in Sperryville on Tuesdays or Thursdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please call 540-987-5090 if you need directions.

Requested supplies are crayons in boxes sized 8, 16 and 24; binders; 3 Ring in sizes 1″ 1-1/2″, and 3″; pencil boxes and/or zippered pencil bags; colored pencils ONLY (lead pencils have already been donated); markers, “fat” — 8 count; dry erase markers; “fat” glue sticks; large pink erasers; highlighters; binder dividers; plastic pocket folders with holes; spiral notebooks and mead 5-subject spiral notebooks with pockets; black/white or colored marble composition books; manila folders; basic calculators; backpacks for boys/girls/all ages/no wheels.

Thanks to the generosity of the Headwaters Foundation, they do not need paper, pencils or scissors.

A reminder

The Dwyer family is having their 28th consecutive year reunion this Saturday, July 22, at 10:30 a.m. at the Washington Fire Hall. Don’t forget to bring a dish and drink to share. For more information, call Wayne Baldwin at 540-547-3722.

St. Peter’s picnic

Fr. Tuck Grinnell would like to invite anyone who has ever been a part of Cursillo or is interested in finding out more about Cursillo to a picnic at St. Peter’s this coming Sunday (July 23), starting at noon. Mass will be celebrated earlier at 11 for those interested.

People can bring their meat to grill, along with any drinks they like, and a side dish to share and join the party. All paper products and condiments will be waiting. All are welcome!

Thought for the day

The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.

Have a wonderful week!