Academic Portion

The academic portion of the fellowship is five weeks and includes a combination of classroom sessions, hands-on activities, and field trips.

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 some previous year’s classroom sessions, field trips and hands-on activities below. Here’s a look at the 2021 schedule (which was conducted entirely remote) for more detail.  

Classroom Sessions

The following are a few of the sessions offered in recent years.

Fellows learn about PEC’s work
with water quality, the Chesapeake
Bay watershed, and TMDLs)
  • History of Land Conservation
  • Introduction to Agencies + Land Management at the Local, State & Federal Level
  • Habitat and Stream Restoration
  • Public Access & Community Engagement
  • Land Use 101
  • Land Use, Transportation & Climate Change
  • Developer Panel Discussion
  • Expanding Local Food Supply panel discussion
  • Farming / Agriculture
  • Energy Policy in Virginia
  • Lobbying, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and PEC at the State Level
  • Development 101 for non-profits: Where does the money come from?  

Field Trips

Here are a few past field trips.

Fellows participating in
benthic macroinvertebrate
stream sampling
  • The Piedmont Memorial Overlook
  • Gilberts Corner: Conservation & Property Management
  • The Farm at Sunnyside
  • Trip to Richmond, VA for a General Assembly House Tour
  • Charlottesville Downtown Mall Tour
  • Rapidan River Canoe Trip
  • Trout Restoration Projects
  • Walking Tour of Downtown Culpeper
  • Clarke County Planning Commission Hearing
  • Camping and Sunrise Hike

Hands-On Activities

The following are some of the activities past PEC fellows have engaged in.

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 simulated hearing while addressing a current land use issue from the region. Each fellow takes 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.

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.

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Stream Sampling. The fellows got an up-close look at Thumb Run, a stream in the Rappahannock River 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 macroinvertebrates living on the streambed.

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