For Educators

Within the last twenty years, childhood has moved from playing outdoors all day to sitting behind an electronic screen indoors for more than seven hours a day. This shift has caused obesity rates to double, and the United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world. Our children are stressed and out of shape because they are missing a connection to the natural world that is essential to their health and development.


DRBA has an amazing menu of programs that bring nature to the classroom and the classroom into nature. 


DRBA's Environmental Education (EE) programs focus on improving academic success, inspiring environmental awareness and teaching an appreciation of the natural world for pre-school through high school. DRBA's EE connects students to their local watershed and you as an educator are the important link to that connection.

EE Benefits
  • Outdoor play reduces obesity by building active, healthy bodies.
  • Spending time outside raises Vitamin D levels.
  • Exposure to nature and unrestricted play time is thought to reduce ADHD symptoms.
  • Environmental education programs in schools help raise scores on standardized tests such as math, science, and writing.
  • Environment based education programs can improve critical thinking skills.
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of exposure to natural settings.
  • Hurried lifestyles can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Play in nature helps enhance social interaction among children and build close relationships.
  • Children can maintain a healthy vision by spending 3 hours a day outside.
EE in the Classroom

Educators can choose from several presentations including Tub O Bugs, Food Chains, Watersheds & Pollution and many other in-classroom presentations for K-12 students that meet both SOL and CORE requirements. 

Nature Experiences

Water quality monitoring, hikes, river experiences, bio assessments and other outdoor programs are available to inspire students and help them retain information they learn in the classroom.

Forest School - a mini environmental education program for young children between the ages of 3-6 years old and their parents to get outdoors and spend time in nature together.  This program is typically held once a year at Philpott Lake.  The program is designed to introduce participants to a nature experience in a safe environment.


EE Project-Based Programs

Trout in the Classroom - a program DRBA has been offering for over a decade where students raise trout in their classrooms then travel to a river to release the trout into their natural habitat. Streamside presentations and other activities at the trout release make this a powerful program that students (and educators!) will not forget.  The program began in Southern Virginia in 2005 when local Orthodontist in Martinsville, Dr. David Jones, delivered fingerlings to area schools. The following season, eggs were delivered to the classes in the winter so the students could see a large portion of the trout life cycle before they released them. Dan River Basin Association adopted the program in 2008 and has maintained the program with support from generous donors and grants since then.

Streamside Trees in the Classroom - a hands-on program where students grow native seedlings in their classroom and then plant them as riparian buffer along a waterway. At the planting, students gain more knowledge through activities and presentations.

Green Schoolyard - DRBA launched the first official Green Schoolyard in the basin this fall at Albert Harris Elementary.  The first phase of the project included a classroom composting program, Monarch Waystation butterfly garden, rain barrels, and interpretive signage.  This pilot project would be an excellent project-based learning experience to launch at other schools throughout the basin!  Contact DRBA to learn how we can get your Green Schoolyard going at your school.

How to Create Your Own Green Schoolyard PDF
Environmental Education Impacts Students' Careers PDF (VAST PDI 2020 Presentation)
VA SOL Correlation for Green Schoolyard Initiative

Butterfly Life Cycle Model Activity
Mini Coffee Can Composter Activity

Monarch Caterpillar Video
Green Schoolyard Video
Weather Station & Storm Drains Video

EE On Campus

DRBA offers storm drain marking, trail building, rain barrel, rain garden, outdoor classroom, art contests and other campus projects that get the entire student body engaged in protecting and conserving the environment.


DRBA Fall 2020 Art Contest

Art contest finalists

This fall, DRBA hosted an elementary art contest for grades 2-5.  We received over 100 submissions from students throughout the basin showing what a healthy river looks like to them.  Twelve finalists were selected along with six honorable mentions.  The twelve finalists were showcased through a Driving Tour in Martinsville/Henry County.  Click here to learn more about the Driving Tour

Click to here to view the finalists and honorable mentions.

DRBA would like to to congratulate the winners and thank all the students and teachers who showed us “What a Healthy River Looks Like to Them!”  We hope to hold the contest again next school year.


Environmental Education Resources developed for teachers in the Dan River basin, but available for teachers everywhere.


Click here to complete DRBA's EE Interest Application and Participate in our Programs

**Click here for DRBA's latest catalog of EE programs**


2020-2021 DRBA Environmental Education in the Basin Report

Create Your Own Environmental Literacy Plan for your school, created by the Virginia Association of Environmental Education.  This document includes an example DRBA investigation.

2020 Early Trout Release Video - Due to schools releasing early and closing for the remainder of the school year, trout fingerlings in the classrooms had to be released early.

Riparian Buffer Assessment DRBA Outdoor Learning - Students will understand the importance of a riparian buffer.  Students will assess riparian buffer and identify strategies to repair buffer. Students will understand the how buffers impact water quality.

Schoolyard Assessment Tool - Complete this schoolyard assessment with your students to see if your schoolyard is helping the Dan River and its tributaries.

Trout Life Cycle Wheel - A printable life cycle wheel that your students can use to study the life cycle of a trout.

Trout STEM Family Night - A complete lesson plan to develop your own Trout STEM Family Night for your students and families to participate in hands-on environmental science and investigate what caused their trout to perish.

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Sorting and Identification Guide - A printable, easy to use aquatic macroinvertebrate ID guide designed by the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

Identifying Aquatic Macroinvertebrates Worksheet - A printable used to determine the health of freshwater streams.  Created by Boxerwood Nature Center in Lexington, VA.

Trout in the Classroom Manual

Trout Egg Count/Mortality Record Sheet

Trout in the Classroom Cheat Sheet

Trout in the Classroom Water Quality Sheet & Feeding Log

Streamside Trees in the Classroom Manual

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Teacher Resources

Advanced DRBA Environmental Word Search

O. Berk Water Cycle Glossary of Terms

The Water Cycle, Cloud Formation, and Rainbows Explained

How to Create a Children's Nature Photo Flip Book

Trash Free Seas:  CleanSwell App - Join a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash free.

Creek Critters App - Audubon Naturalist Society - Empowering People to Check the Health of their Local Streams

How to Make a Creek Critters Habitat!

Litterati App - Be an Environmental Hero. Join the community that's cleaning the planet. 

Conserve Your Resources - Earth Day Challenge 

Earth Day Fun! Booklet

Water Pollution:  How Humans Impact the Water Cycle





Contact Krista Hodges, DRBA's Environmental Education Manager


Phone: (276) 634-2592