Green Leaders in Our Community
Prince William County is fortunate to have many individuals, families, organizations and businesses that are taking steps to protect, preserve and restore our natural areas. This page will feature stories about their actions and practices. We hope these stories will inspire you, generate ideas on steps you can take, and raise awareness about thoughtful actions and wise practices that help reduce our impact on the environment.
Shining the Spotlight:
Top Green: PNC Bank, Potomac Town Center
PNC Bank is dedicated to reducing its corporate impact on the environment. They demonstrate this commitment through their corporate practices, recycling and waste reduction practices, customer service for green banking opportunities and green construction of their facilities and infrastructure. In addition, staff from the PNC Bank Branch at Potomac Town Center have generously donated their time and shared giveaways at several community events to raise environmental awareness. They have supported the Prince William Recycles Day, Youth Ambassadors’ Conference on the Environment, Earth Day Festival for Prince William County and an Earth Day Festival at George Mason University. PNC has demonstrated their strong commitment to support their community and the environment.
Program: Jess Hruska and Rich Smith
For the past eight years, Jess Hruska and Rich Smith have tirelessly sponsored the ecology club at Stonewall Jackson High School. This powerhouse team of high school students is masterfully and thoughtfully led by these two dedicated teachers. The club participates in community events, such as Prince William Recycles Day, Youth Ambassadors’ Conference on the Environment and the Six Weeks to Make A Difference Conservation Campaign. With the guidance of Rich and Jess, the club also tackles environmental opportunities at the school including care for the school pond and nature trail, recycling in the school, and teaching all students about good environmental practices. Finally, the students gain further insight and inspiration from a variety of outdoor experiences, educational conferences and nature adventures.
Process Change: Leesylvania State Park
Leesylvania State Park is situated on the Potomac River and features beautiful wooded areas, trails and several streams. It is rich in natural and historic treasures for our community. Over the past several years, staff and volunteers at Leesylvania State Park have made a concerted effort to implement, expand and improve projects and opportunities at the park for visitors to go green. Since 2007, Leesylvania State Park has been part of the Virginia Clean Marina Program to ensure their marina complies with all regulatory requirements for an environmentally sound marina, plus the staff has voluntarily adopted additional best management practices. Since the early 1990s, the park has accepted Christmas trees to keep them from taking up space at the landfill. The trees are used to create habitat for aquatic animals and hiding places for forest animals. Park staff and volunteers has placed signs and recycling bins to remind guests to recycle. In addition, staff and volunteers have set up pet waste stations to encourage guests to pick up and properly dispose of pet waste. This keeps the waste out of local waters and helps prevent the spread of bacteria. To continue their efforts to protect valuable waterways, Leesylvania State Park staff and volunteers participate in many local, state and national clean up and awareness events, such as Clean the Bay Day, National Public Lands Day and International Coastal Cleanup. Finally, the staff has installed eco-friendly light bulbs and solar panels to conserve energy consumption.
Project Leadership: Don Peschka, Prince William Master Gardener
Don Peschka is a 2007 graduate of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training. Since his graduation, Don has devoted over 1,458 hours to environmental education and responded to 3840 requests for help from citizens. He is a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer who has given leadership and effort to a variety of meaningful projects and programs in our community. Don has devoted many hours at the Teaching Garden where citizens can learn best management practices for landscapes and water quality protection. He provides guidance and tips at local garden centers, earth day celebrations and Prince William Recycles Day. He delivers fresh produce to local needy families from local gardens. Don has helped to establish and maintain a garden at the ACTS Shelter. He also serves as a neighborhood plant expert and educates homeowners about the best practices to use on their lawns to protect local water quality in our streams. He has helped over 200 homeowners with these practices and helped improve 74.45 acres. He also shares information about practices to help protect water quality for businesses, schools, churches and non-profit organizations. The Virginia Cooperative Extension is especially grateful for the services of Don. In addition to all his community service, he serves as an advocate for all the Extension programs for the community on the Extension Leadership Council.
Event: Troop 5285
The scouts of Girl Scout Troop 5285 have demonstrated their commitment to the community and the environment by helping with several special events. Members of the scout troop were selected by their school to serve as Youth Ambassadors for the Environment. They helped with conservation projects around the county. The ambassadors then encouraged their fellow scouts to participate at a tree planting effort sponsored by the Department of Public Works in December 2012. At this project, scouts helped plant 250 seedlings to help create a forested wetland. Girl Scout Troop 5285 also volunteered to host a recycling activity at the 2013 Prince William County Expo held at the Potomac Nationals Stadium. In the future, the girls plan to host other environmental awareness events at their school.
Individual: Linda Gosnell
Linda is the unsung hero of volunteers. She quietly and faithfully serves at many volunteer efforts, clean up efforts and special projects in the Neabsco District and other events attended by the Neabsco Alliance. She never seeks the spotlight, but remains in the shadows doing the hard work and leaving the glory to others. She deserves recognition for her years of dedicated and tireless service. Prince William County and particularly the Neabsco District is a much nicer, well-kept and cleaner place because of this amazing citizen and neighbor.
Individual: David Sarr
David volunteered to assist the Youth Ambassadors with a tree planting project along Bull Run Creek at Ben Lomond Park in April 2012. He worked diligently with the youth to help plant 75 trees. We experienced a long period of drought after we planted and David volunteered to help water the trees. His efforts helped the young seedlings survive. In April 2013, the Ambassadors returned to Ben Lomond to plant more trees in another section along the stream. David joined us again, but also brought a troop of boy scouts and their families to help. The planting was completed in record time so the volunteers tended, weeded and mulched the trees planted last year. David demonstrated what it means to step up and help in your community on your own accord. This is the true spirit of volunteering. David saw a chance to make a difference and he acted accordingly.
Stonewall Jackson High School Ecology Club
These enthusiastic and staunch student advocates for the environment have made numerous contributions to our community. They are led by two dedicated teachers, Jess Hruska and Rich Smith. As a club, these students assist with programs for younger students -- leading outdoor experiences for their neighboring elementary school, teaching farming regions and waste reduction at Farm Field Days for fourth grade students and co-sponsoring the annual Youth Ambassadors' Conference on the Environment. They are also actively involved with green initiatives at their school.
Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition
A non-profit organization dedicated to establishing and promoting a county wide system of trails and blueways that connect parks with our communities. PWTSC supports the sharing of trails and streams for all non-motorized public recreation activities, including but not limited to hiking, jogging, biking, dog walking, bird watching, horseback riding and the general enjoyment of nature on trails; and canoeing, kayaking, and fishing Prince William County streams that support those activities. We invite both private and public partners and members with similar objectives to join us in our efforts.
The coalition works diligently on constructing and improving trails throughout the community. In addition, they sponsor educational walks and talks along the trail to help raise appreciation and value for these access points into our natural areas. You can learn more about their efforts at www.pwtsc.org.
Friends of the Occoquan
Friends of the Occoquan is a non-profit organization of local citizens who preserve and maintain the natural integrity of the Occoquan River and other Virginia watersheds by promoting community awareness through public and private partnerships. Their vision is to energize individuals, community and business groups to take on the challenge of keeping Northern Virginia's Reservoirs clean by controlling excessive sediment and pollution. Their efforts include educational programs, working with citizens, businesses and elected officials and conducting a spring and fall clean up along the river for the past 13 years. You can learn more about their efforts and volunteer at www.foto.org.
Vulcan Materials, Manassas Quarry
Vulcan Materials has quarried crushed stone for construction work and projects since the 1960s. They uphold a corporate vision to be responsible stewards of these natural resources. In addition, they try to be a good corporate citizen by supporting local civic and charitable activities. After they complete work in an area of the quarry, Vulcan Materials restores the area by planting grasses and trees to create habitat for wildlife. They have also created sediment basins to hold water to help control run off. These basins have become habitat for many types of fish and waterfowl. In addition, they maintain 30 acres of green space solely dedicated to wildlife habitat preservation and enhancement.
Vulcan provides significant support to local organizations and programs as well. They work closely with Stonewall Jackson High School and Ellis Elementary School by creating a nature trail around the pond for environmental education and an outdoor classroom. Vulcan also invites students to their quarry for tours of their operations, wildlife habitat programs and their reclamation programs. Employees from Vulcan lead programs in the classroom, judge science fairs and encourage reading.
They lead by example by conserving water, reducing energy use, recycling, and monitoring their operations to reduce environmental impacts. Vulcan also helps the community through SERVE, a Manassas-based non-profit organization that provides food and shelter to local families. Learn more about Vulcan Materials at www.vulcanmaterials.com/manassas.
Mr. VanNortwick unselfishly volunteers hours each year to help improve our natural areas. He conducts frequent clean ups along Neabsco Creek in the Dale City Community. In addition, Mr. VanNortwick assists other organizations with their efforts to clean and beautify our community.
Mr. Dandar serves as the lead volunteer on coordinating the logistics for the annual cleanup along Occoquan River. The team cleans up 17 miles of this critical river and source of local drinking water. Mr. Dandar ensures the critical needs of such an undertaking, ensuring that dumpsters and portajohns are in place, as well as gloves, water and vests are available for the volunteers.
The Taylor Family of Windy Knoll Farms
The Taylors have installed a variety of conservation best management practices on their farm over the years. They utilize a conservation plan and certified nutrient management plan in the operation of their farm to help protect local water quality and improve soil. The Taylors have hosted several conservation seminars for farmers and special programs for children/families. They have participated in the PWC Farm Tour showcasing agricultural BMPs to the general public. In addition, they have hosted the annual Ag in the Classroom training for Prince William County teachers amd educational fieldtrips for students to learn about agriculture and the environment. The Taylors serve as excellent stewards in farm practices and environmental protection!
Let us know about your efforts!
We know there are many success stories out there. If you would like to share a story, please send an email with details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories will be updated periodically.