Seton Youth Services Holds First Habitat Restoration Planting at New Virginia Beach Campus
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- In partnership with Virginia Wesleyan University, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and area horticultural experts, Seton Youth Services, the region's only non-profit dedicated to free, 24-hour shelter, outreach, mentoring and counseling to youth in crisis and their families, is launching the first phase of its Mission Greenspace initiative, designed to restore and create sustainable greenspace on its new 4-acre campus in Virginia Beach. Through a $20,000 grant of planning, labor and materials, Seton will plant 34 trees and shrubs at its Stoneshore Road property on November 19, 2023, from 1-5 pm, with additional planting next spring. "We are beyond grateful to our lead Building Promise Capital Campaign donors, Brian and Stan Holland of Atlantic Bay Mortgage, for purchasing this 4-acre property for Seton in 2021, located in the heart of the city. In addition to its purpose as the setting for our new Boys' and Girls' shelters and our Administration building, our organization hopes to set an example of how deliberate landscape design and practice can restore habitat for people, plants, and wildlife. As a non-profit, we do not have a budget for seasonal landscape change outs, and we believe we have a responsibility to minimize waste and maximize the lifespan of any resources we do have at hand. We are hoping to set an example that others in our suburban area can follow to utilize native, perennial plants in their greenspaces, whether large or small. In a way, we see this mission as allowing us to help heal the environment just as our programs heal the youth and families we serve," explained Jennifer Sieracki, CEO of Seton Youth Services. "Also, as a VWU alumna, and former Norfolk Botanical Garden(NBG) staffer, I look forward to collaborating with VWU faculty and students, and horticulturist Brian O'Neill, formerly with NBG, on this important mission."
Seton's Mission Greenspace initiative includes planting native trees, shrubs and other vegetation, installation of the Growing Promise Garden, a permanent, dedicated edibles and pollinator garden, funded by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation's Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Fund, and the future Chillin' Out Weather Station, a S.T.E.M based solar-powered weather monitoring center.
"Extreme heat is one of the most dangerous weather events in the United States and is worsened in urban areas by pavement and the lack of green spaces," explains Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm, Associate Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science of at VWU. "An urban heat research campaign carried out by Virginia Wesleyan University measured a 15 °F difference across the city of Virginia Beach on a hot summer afternoon. Seton Youth Services' campus is in a neighborhood identified as at risk from extreme heat events based on the VWU research. In partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Virginia Wesleyan University obtained funding from the Virginia Department of Forestry for the current tree planting project. Trees and natural spaces provide benefits beyond reducing the urban heat island effect, having been shown to improve test scores and mental health in children. Malcolm added, "Virginia Wesleyan is excited to partner with Seton Youth Services to integrate native trees and green spaces at their new campus to benefit the psychological and physical wellbeing of the children they serve. This project allows our students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to serve our community."
Speaking as a group, Grace Harriman, Avery Lewis, Janessa Lowe, and Stephanie Clark, all with VWU's Class of '27, said, "As students of Virginia Wesleyan University and its Batten Honors College (BHC), we are completing an honors program that inspires, engages, and prepares students to become impactful leaders, good citizens, and environmental stewards in the global community. Our "Contemporary Environmental Issues" class is the Honors seminar all first-year BHC students are required to take. Our focus is climate change and water sustainability. Students completing this class receive a Chesapeake Bay Foundation Advocacy certificate from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. To obtain our certificate, we are required to investigate a local environmental issue and propose a solution. This year, we chose to work with Seton Youth Services. Our role in Mission Greenspace is to assist Seton with planning, organizing, and completing their Phase One tree planting project and garden to provide privacy, lounging areas, and outdoor hands-on education for youth served, and for Seton staff."
Thirty Seton staff and Board Members, VWU students and faculty, and community volunteers will em-"bark" on Seton's Mission Greenspace Plant-A-Thon on Sunday, November 19, 2023, from 1-5 p.m., at Seton's new campus, 3396 Stoneshore Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23452. For more information, contact Jennifer Sieracki, CEO, at 757.403.2617, or [email protected].
SOURCE Seton Youth Services