Teacher Takes Top Honors

Water Stewardship of the Year Award Winner

Award Winner Virgina Frissell

And the nominees for water stewardship are…” While the District’s Water Stewardship Awards program may not be as big as the Oscars, the program is like the Academy Awards because it recognizes excellence. In this case, excellence is in the form of outstanding stewardship of Florida’s water resources.

The District’s Governing Board chose Virginia Frissell as the Water Stewardship of the Year Award winner for her project “Water Everywhere— Put It First — Make It Last.”

Frissell’s project used a District grant, as well as funding from other sources, to educate and engage students in the topic of water resources by planting a drought-tolerant garden. The project was tied in with a student’s Eagle Scout project, which involved purchasing concrete benches and writing a youth grant for art supplies for wildlife reflections.

Virginia Frissell, a science resource teacher at Twin Lakes Elementary in Hillsborough County, became involved with the District a few years ago by applying for a Splash! mini-grant.

“Since then I have been to the grant writing conference at the University of South Florida, as well as the District’s sharing days,” said Frissell.

By applying for and receiving grants from the District and other sources like Youth As Resources, Frissell is able to provide her K–5 students with a hands-on learning environment.

“We enjoy going outside to the outdoor classrooms to learn about our natural resources and how to preserve them,” said Frissell.

“The students enjoy their investigations and working with the service learning volunteers to complete projects that educate about watersheds, wetlands and other water resources.”

The drought-tolerant garden serves as an ongoing educational tool as Frissell’s students continue to maintain and add to it.

“The kindergarten students learn about the water cycle and then build on that knowledge each of the following years,” said Frissell. “They also get a chance to help with the garden. Even though they may not fully understand why we are doing the things we do, such as mulching, they love it anyway.”

The educational benefit of Frissell’s project also reaches beyond her elementary students. Middle and high school students serve as volunteers assisting her students with their projects.

Frissell also gets help from older students and family members when they hold special cleanup days on designated Saturdays. “When I plan a cleanup day, all I have to do is send home an announcement with my students and to the high schools, and people come,” said Frissell.

Frissell always has new projects planned. This year her classes are working on an exhibit titled “Disappearing Wetlands” for the Florida State Fair, in addition to maintaining the gardens and landscaping planted by previous classes.

When it comes to doing projects and applying for grants, Frissell says one thing always leads to another. “Last year we got our feet wet with an exhibit at the fair. That led to this year’s exhibit that will include scientific, technical and artistic efforts,” said Frissell.

This year’s winner was selected from the seven Water Stewardship Award winners, which were chosen by the District Basin Boards. The eighth basin did not have enough qualifying entries. Twin Lakes Elementary is in the District’s Hillsborough River Basin.