VSDB Receives $76,240 for Urban Farm Program

Sign that reads "Welcome to the VSDB Educational Urban Farm"

The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) was one of two Virginia recipients to receive the USDA Farm-to-School Expansion Grant to fund an expansion of the VSDB Educational Urban Farm Program.

The USDA Farm-to-School grants provide funding to increase the amount of local foods served to students and develop capacity for schools and farms to participate in Farm-to-School programs. The money will also go toward teaching students about food sources, healthy choices, and agriculture through garden and classroom education.

Katrina Beitz, the VSDB Educational Urban Farm Manager expressed her enthusiasm stating, “It’s very exciting, like a dream come true because we’ve been given this money to start all these new projects, and improve this already amazing space that we have.”

Among the activities planned through the grant, VSDB will create a paved handicapped accessible section of the garden for its students who utilize wheelchairs, purchase irrigation supplies, and establish an apiary with two beehives.

The VSDB Educational Urban Farm will also invite community participation through workshops, Work-on-the-Farm days and other activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Make Your Own Condiments Workshop

A Program of the VSDB Educational Urban Farm

Making your own condiments is easy, cost effective, and fun. Join the farm staff at the VSDB Educational Urban Farm  to learn how to make your own condiments from veggies you grow or buy.  Additionally, we will talk about the hidden ingredients in the condiments that are commonly bought and the nutritional/health differences between mass produced and homemade products.

The workshop will be held down at the VSDB Educational Urban Farm on September 1st from 11-2. There is a suggested donation of $5.00 to cover basic costs. Please bring a packed lunch. 

If you would like to participate, please email Katrina Beitz, VSDB Farm Manager by August 28th at katrina.beitz@vsdb.k12.va.us to register.


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VSDB among 2018 Farm to School Grant Recipients

Announcement from the USDA Office of Community Food Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced $5.2 million in grants that will support local food in child nutrition programs in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam:

“The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) congratulates all of the 2018 Farm to School Grant recipients! USDA’s Farm to School Grants fund school districts, State and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school.”

At VSDB, the grant will expand programs and facilities in order to develop students’ ability to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves. As stated in the OCFS grant announcement, VSDB program goals are “to (1) increase student access to local foods, (2) advance educational opportunities, and (3) improve classroom concepts through agricultural innovation. Staff will accomplish this goal through their 3-acre education farm which includes, one acre of production, a riparian buffer, a raised bed garden, a small greenhouse/workspace, a sensory garden, and a youth garden business.”

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Mobile Dairy Classroom Visits VSDB

Mobile Dairy Classroom truck with cow in truck and woman making presentation, and students sitting on ground in attendance.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom visited VSDB on May 2nd.  Students learned about all of the nutritional benefits of milk and how milk gets from a cow to their tummies.  Students asked a lot of great questions and got to see a milking machine in action with special guest Ellie Mae.  A big thank you goes out to VSDB’s Food Service Manager, Cindy Payne, for bringing this neat and educational experience.

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Kudos, VSDB Track Team!

Six VSDB students with track medals

Six VSDB students win medals

Congratulations to the VSDB track team for successful wins in the  Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind (EAAB)  tournament at Maryland School for the Blind this weekend!

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams placed 4th in the overall team totals. Each VSDB athlete contributed to the winning performances by placing in one of their events, resulting in 18 medals among the six students.

In addition, all athletes improved their overall scores compared to last year’s performance. Congratulations to the team and coaches for their dedication, hard work, and winning efforts! 

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New Team Members in Urban Farm Partnership

VSDB Welcomes New Faces from Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI)

For their year of Phase II service work, AMI Fellows Sophia Hutnik and Stephen Rodriguez are working as Farm and Education Assistants at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind’s Urban Farm. During this time, they are helping to grow food for the VSDB cafeteria and to provide garden education for VSDB students. AMI is an educational non-profit organization with the mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education based in Staunton, VA.

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Amazement Square Children’s Museum

VA Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and VSDB Outreach Services invite you to join us for a memorable learning experience at

Amazement Square Children’s Museum

Saturday, May 12, 2018, 10:00 – 3:00

Amazement Square has four floors and 9 galleries of hands-on, interactive, multidisciplinary exhibits. The museum’s exhibits and educational programs encourage all participants to explore the arts and humanities, culture, science, technology, and their interconnected relationships.

What? Students will meet with staff members of Amazement Square, DBVI, and VSDB Outreach Services for an educational art activity, then joined by other family members for a guided tour of the facility, lunch, and hands-on exploration!  (See http://www.amazementsquare.org/explore/  )

Who is invited?  Virginia students ages 8 – 18 who are deaf or hard of hearing, or with visual impairment, blindness, or deaf-blindness.  Each student may bring one sibling age 8-18 to participate in the initial art activity. Parent(s) are asked to then join us for a guided tour, lunch, and hands-on exploration of the museum!

The deadline for registration is May 7, 2018.  This activity is limited to the first 40 individuals registered (student plus family members). If accommodations other than interpreters are needed, please register as soon as possible to help ensure access.

We hope to see you there!

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VSDB Alumna Breaking Down Barriers

Posted by PAT TRICE on MARCH 20, 2018

Sierra Campbell went to the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. From there, she attended Gallaudet University. She is working two jobs to save up enough money to attend VCU where she wants to study to be a social worker to help the deaf.

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Goalball and Academic Bowl Teams Excel

Great job to the VSDB Academic Bowl team for making it to the National competition at Gallaudet. VSDB is confident that you will do well! Good luck!

Our boys and girls Goalball teams represented our school well in competition and sportsmanship.

GIRLS: The girls finished winning third place for the highest finish since since 2013 when they placed 2nd. Cheyenne M. and Mausam M. both made the All Tournament team. The girls played 6 games in 2 days. Girls team members were DeWayzha C., Cheyenne M., Mausam M., Marie P., Maryam A. Here are the scores:

  • Virginia 8 ,   Overbrook   5         
  • Virginia 4,   New York   9
  • Virginia 11,  Maryland    1
  • Virginia 6,   Governor Morehead  1
  • Virginia 6,    Overbrook  9         
  • Virginia 9,    New York 7 (3rd place game)

BOYS: The boys took home the gold for the third year in a row! Christian K. led the team on a four-game march to the gold medal, beating Florida 15 to 13. Christian scored a total of 47 goals for an average of 11.75 per game and was a member of the All Tournament team. Joining Christian K. on the Virginia team were Jonell F, Malik S and pool player from the Maryland School for the Blind, Isaiah. Isaiah proved to be a wonderful addition to our team and a pleasure to have with us. We thank the Maryland school for allowing him to play on our team. The boys in addition to winning the Championship took home the Sportsmanship award! Here are the scores:

  • Virginia 14,  Florida 10
  • Virginia 15,  Maryland  11
  • Virginia 10,  Governor Morehead 5
  • Virginia 15, Florida 13 (championship game)
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Independent Living Apartments Now Open

VSDB is proud to announce the opening of its Independent Living Apartments (ILAs) program as a key part of its transition services.  The five-apartment program is housed in Price Hall on the VSDB campus and will provide students who are within their last two years of graduation, a supervised independent living experience in an apartment setting.  “Leases” will rotate on a 9-week basis. 

Students will receive hands-on experience with budgeting and paying bills, meal planning and preparation, and daily  housekeeping chores.  In addition, students will participate in age appropriate social activities to support successful transition skills upon graduation.

The program is supported by a prescriptive curriculum to meet the needs of students who are hard of hearing/deaf, visually impaired/blind, deafblind, or deaf or blind with other disabilities.   This unique program supports effective independent living and workforce skills that prepare VSDB graduates to take their place in the community as productive citizens upon graduation.

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