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NRPA hosts scavenger hunt

Families looking for a fun and educational activity in Suffolk’s great outdoors can enjoy a scavenger hunt at Nansemond River Preservation Alliance’s “outdoor classroom” at Sleepy Hole Park.

Information on the NRPA Scavenger Hunt is available on the NRPA website cleanmyrivers.com. This social-distancing friendly hunt will bring participants to the NRPA conservation project site at Sleepy Hole Park.

“The waterways create a paradise for children and adults to fish, swim, kayak, canoe and also enjoy magnificent water views,” NRPA President Elizabeth Taraski wrote in an email Tuesday. “Unfortunately, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality our waterways are impaired due to nonpoint pollution — not one source. Contributing factors are stormwater runoff and erosion, which contribute to the high bacteria levels and murky waters.”

People are the solution to help to restore the waterways, Taraski wrote, so the NRPA develops and implements programs to educate the community about the need for environmental stewardship. Members also encourage volunteer activities and collaborate with individuals, businesses, civic organizations and governmental agencies.

One of its new programs is called “Discover Suffolk,” and its scavenger hunt based at the NRPA’s Conversation Project Site located at Sleepy Hole Park. This site is located near the park’s pier.

Native trees and shrubs are planted at the site to reduce harmful stormwater runoff into the Nansemond River, and also to promote biodiversity, shelter and food for wildlife, according to the NRPA “River Chart” newsletter for April, another part of the organization’s Discover Suffolk series.

“The site was created by NRPA in collaboration with Suffolk Parks and Recreation,” Taraski wrote, “with funding for the native trees and shrubs provided by the Dominion Energy Foundation and local non-profit organizations. The planting and maintenance of the site and trail are provided by NRPA and community volunteers.”

NRPA also made a walking path lined with river stones and benches at the site where citizens can take a stroll or just sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the Nansemond River.

“NRPA created the Conservation Project at Sleepy Hole Park as an outdoor classroom where citizens can visit a display of a variety of native vegetation they can plant on their property,” the April newsletter states.

The scavenger hunt found on cleanmyrivers.com brings families to this outdoor classroom to learn about native plants and animals, plus local history of Suffolk waterways. They will answer the scavenger hunt questions by reading the kiosk at the site, by strolling down the pier and also by reading labels attached to the native trees and shrubs.

“Folks exercise, learn about nature, raise their awareness of the beauty of the river and wildlife — and realize how lucky they are to live in this area. During this period of social distancing, the hunt provides a wonderful, exciting new experience,” Taraski wrote.

The NRPA website cleanmyrrivers.com is the organization’s new website that’s filled with information about Suffolk and its waterways. Scavenger hunt participants must go the website and print out a scavenger hunt form to bring with them as they answer the questions.

The NRPA is also launching a new Facebook page that will be available on Friday, Taraski wrote.

The organization has been serving the Suffolk community for a decade, and all citizens are encouraged to participate in its programs and projects, and to become members themselves by making a donation. Visit cleanmyrrivers.com for more information about the NRPA Scavenger Hunt and its other programs.

The mission of the NRPA is to raise public awareness and encourage environmental stewardship of the Nansemond River, Chuckatuck Creek, Bennett’s Creek and their tributaries and wetlands.