VSU Innovation Grant to benefit the Petersburg Historic Legends Park
(June 7, 2023, Petersburg, Virginia) – Dr. Kenneth Lewis, Associate Professor of Statistics and Data Analytics in Psychology, at Virginia State University (VSU), has been awarded a grant of $76,000, to be used for a new program to be implemented with the Willcox Watershed Conservancy of Petersburg for the benefit of the Petersburg Legends Park (formerly Lee Park) on Defense Road. Lewis is also President of the Willcox Watershed Conservancy (WWC), a non-profit organization that works to make improvements to the 330+ acre watershed and park.
The grant was awarded by the VSU Innovation Award Program (IAP), a funding opportunity designed to provide financial support to VSU faculty, staff, and students involved in special programs/projects that will enhance the mission of Virginia State University (see VSU 5-year Strategic Plan). Dr. Lewis’s successful application outlined a plan to engage VSU students and faculty in the revitalization of the historic “Women’s Trail” in Legends Park.
The “Women’s Trail,” located on the west bank of Willcox Lake, was one of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) parks construction projects that was brought to Petersburg from 1935 to 1940. The WPA program was a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which was created to help lift American citizens out of financial ruin following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and resulting depression. Details on the initial Women’s Trail project can be found in the special section Rediscover the Forgotten Garden.
Funds from the grant will be used to hire VSU students for the 2024 academic year to repair and restore walking trails, rehabilitate the bird and wildflower sanctuary, clean and repair existing interpretive signage, install new signage, and document the presence of natural wildflowers, many of which are recognized by botanists as historically significant. The creation of an outdoor classroom is also a goal. Ultimately, it is Dr. Lewis’s hope that the sanctuary will become a regular site for school and college field trips, offering students a place to relax and learn about the habits of indigenous plants and birds of the Petersburg area.
Students selected for the program will be offered guidance and assistance from WWC board members and volunteers whose purpose is to preserve, protect, and promote the educational and recreational amenities of the park. The objective is to create a sustainable partnership between VSU and the WWC.
Upon receiving notification of the award, Dr. Lewis, a lifelong Petersburg resident, remarked, “Wow! This is a greater opportunity to bring the City of Petersburg and Virginia State University closer together. I look forward to a successful outcome.”
For more information, please contact Dr. Kenneth Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.