Hampton City School Students Contribute Over 100,000 Oysters to Help Local Waterways and the Chesapeake Bay
Since 2016, Hampton City Schools educators have been raising oysters with their students and placing them on local sanctuary reefs in the Hampton and Back Rivers, tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.
Teachers Jennifer Jones-Cooper (Andrews PreK-8 School); Sheryl McLaughlin (Jones Magnet Middle School); Kristen Coolbear and Marjorie Ware (Kecoughtan High School); Michele Ferrel, Paula Larson, Gretchen Cary, and Thelma Jefferson (Kilgore Gifted Center); Mallary Reynolds and Rachel Hercules (Langley Elementary School); Alexis Tharpe (Phenix PreK-8); Tirzah Sarro (Phoebus High School); and Brittany Richards (Tarrant Middle School) each received baby oysters, called spat, on September 4, 2021.
The teachers have been bringing the oysters into their classrooms periodically so that students can measure their growth and understand random sampling techniques. In their work with the oysters, students have been introduced to many organisms that live in the Hampton and Back Rivers and Chesapeake Bay. They have been able to see animal adaptations up close and practice using a dichotomous key to identify different species. Reynolds used this opportunity to have her fifth grade students share their knowledge of oysters as they mentored Hercules’ kindergartners.
Students from Kilgore, Jones, and Langley took field trips to a sanctuary oyster reef in the Elizabeth Lake neighborhood to release their oysters. As part of the field trip, students moved through several educational stations where they:
Hampton City Schools oyster restoration efforts started during the 2015-16 academic year through a Bay Watershed Education and Training (BWET) grant. This year’s oyster restoration efforts were made possible through generous donations by the following organizations:
Hampton City Schools oyster restoration serves as a model for how the school division and community organizations can work together in mutually beneficial ways. “I am so appreciative of the many community partners who came together to provide this opportunity for our students, and I love that Hampton City Schools teachers and students are looking outside themselves and are actively engaged in positively impacting their community,” said Betsy McAllister, HCS STEM teacher specialist.
Click here to see a video of the students and the oyster project.
Teachers interested in oyster gardening can contact Betsy McAllister (firstname.lastname@example.org) and should plan to attend the oyster gardener training being offered on August 11 at Sandy Bottom Nature Park (to register: https://forms.gle/YdrFUBrMZKagN5Ft9).