Fellowship Program

The academic portion of the fellowship includes a combination of classroom sessions, hands-on activities, and field trips. Most classroom discussions take place in Fellows Hall at PEC’s Main Street Office in Warrenton.

Though most sessions are taught by PEC’s staff, a number of other professionals and community members lead discussions or serve as panelists. The classroom sessions provide background information on each of the main subjects. The hands-on activities give participants a chance to apply this knowledge and develop practical, real-world skills. The field trips further illustrate the topics presented in the classroom - sometimes showing sound environmental practices in action, or in other cases, showing the negative results of inaction, poor planning, or bad policy.


Take a look at a list of last year's classroom sessions, field trips and hands-on activities below. Here's a look at the 2014 schedule for more detail.

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Fellows learn about PEC's work with
water quality, the Chesapeake Bay
watershed, and TMDLs

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Fellows learn about the effects of 
suburban development on future land
use goals

Classroom Sessions

  • Introduction to the Practice of Land Conservation
  • What it Means to be an Accredited Land Trust
  • Conservation, Farms, and Agriculture
  • Habitat and Land Stewardship in the Piedmont 
  • The Making of an Easement
  • Historic Preservation and Conservation
  • Land Use 101/Land Use Law Overview
  • Case Studies in Rural Land Use
  • Developer Panel Discussion
  • Water Quality, Energy Conservation and Policy
  • Energy Conservation and Policy
  • Stream Monitoring: Assessment of Water Quality
  • Communications 101
  • Communication Strategies
  • Practical Applications of GIS
  • Lobbying, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and PEC at the State Level


Field Trips

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Fellows participating in benthic
macroinvertebrate stream sampling

  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Stewardship & Easement Monitoring
  • Gilberts Corner: Conservation & Property Management
  • Threlkeld Organic Dairy
  • State Capitol Building
  • Home Energy Audit
  • Fauquier County Landfill
  • Environmental Studies on the Piedmont
  • Charlottesville Downtown Mall Tour
  • Rivanna River Canoe Trip
  • James Madison’s Montpelier
  • Montpelier’s Old Growth Forest
  • DuCard Vineyards
  • White Oak Canyon



Hands-On Activities

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PEC fellow Brian Sproul speaks at a
Mock Board of Supervisors Hearing

Mock Board of Supervisors Hearing. The PEC Land Use staff guided the fellows through a simulating hearing while addressing a current land use issue from the region. Each fellow took on the role of a land developer, concerned citizen, business owner, or a representative from an environmental advocacy group, the chamber of commerce, or the planning commission. PEC staff took on the role of the supervisors, deciding for or against the proposal based on the information presented.

Conservation Easement Monitoring. After the Conservation staff taught the fellows about the purpose, history, and legalities of conservation easements, the fellows visited and examined a local property to ensure that the owner was abiding by the terms of the easement. They learned how to interpret the language of an easement and saw how it applied to an actual property.

Mock Session at the Virginia House of Delegates. A full day was spent in Richmond learning how PEC works with state government to affect policy. They met with staff from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and PEC’s chief lobbyist. They then spent the afternoon with the Deputy Clerk of Virginia’s House of Delegates, who described the legislative process and guided them through a mock session on the House floor. The fellows took on the role of elected officials and debated bills that were proposed in the most recent session.

Strategic Messaging Exercise. Communications staff taught the fellows about the tools used to communicate with its members and the general public, and discussed the challenges of “translating” complicated issues. The fellows worked in small groups to come up with ways to convey an important message, using communication channels that are commonly used by PEC.

Benthic Macroinvertibrate Stream Sampling. The fellows got an up-close look at Bolling Branch, a stream in the Goose Creak Watershed where extensive work has been done to restore its once badly eroded banks and poor water quality. After a tour and discussion with the property owner, the fellows assessed the health of the stream by taking an inventory of the types and numbers of macroinvertibrates living on the streambed.

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Canoeing on the Rivana River
near Charlottesville

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Touring Washington D.C.
for the day

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Participating in Conservation Easement monitoring



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