Since 2010, the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance has been the champion of the Nansemond River and its tributaries. Formed by 17 Suffolk citizens who were concerned about the degradation of local waterways, the NRPA was established to raise awareness and educate all residents of the area to become environmental stewards. Now, led by a 22-member board, NRPA manages K-12 educational programs, grassroots lobbying, environmental oversight and successful outreach. The alliance has educated 7,500 K-12 students and 3,500 adults, to date.

The NRPA conducts monthly monitoring and sampling of the Nansemond River and Bennett’s Creek and reports any problems to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This helps ensure that the water stays clean and safe. The alliance publishes a biannual report card on the state of the waterways, establishes and maintains oyster reef sanctuaries, and develops hands-on outdoor classrooms, which include a salt marsh study and an on-board educational boat excursion. It conducts workshops, forums, and exhibits on the river and creeks. It advises citizens on the eradication of invasive plants, maintaining a native plant arboretum and rain garden demonstration site, and educates citizens about best practices for their own property.

The NRPA attributes its remarkable success to the many alliances it has forged over the past nine years. It receives support from approximately 350 citizens. It has 24 business and foundation partners, including BASF Corporation, Colonial Pipeline Company and Lipton/Unilever; eight state and federal partners, including the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; and 30 community, regional and educational partners, including the Nansemond River Garden Club and the James River Association.

The importance of the NRPA to the entire Suffolk region and to the Commonwealth of Virginia is immeasurable. The Garden Club of Virginia is honored to present the 2019 Dugdale Award to such a vibrant and dedicated organization that strives to protect our waterways and make Virginia a better place to live.

President and CEO Elizabeth Taraski accepted the Dugdale award on behalf of the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance from GCV Conservation Awards Chairman Heidi James. Joining them are Nansemond River Garden Club President Linda Consolvo and Judy Perry (Elizabeth River).

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