Rice Center wins Scenic Virginia Award

The VCU Rice Center received the Creative Scenic Enhancement Award at Scenic Virginia’s annual awards gala on Friday. Scenic Virginia is a nonprofit conservation organization with a mission to preserve, protect and enhance the scenic beauty of the commonwealth.

Len Smock, director of the Rice Center, accepted the award at the Virginia State Capitol. He was joined by Rice Center board members Mark Watkins, Chief Stephen Atkins and W. Tayloe Murphy Jr.

In presenting the award, Leighton Powell, executive director of Scenic Virginia, noted that the Rice Center’s Walter L. Rice Education Building was the first in Virginia to earn a LEED Platinum rating. She also highlighted the center’s commitment to hands-on environmental education and research of river ecosystems and their fringing wetland landscapes.

“The Rice Center represents a winning combination of education, science, research and learning set against a backdrop of breathtaking scenic beauty,” she said. “We present the award to the VCU Rice Center for bringing a world-class facility dedicated to the study of rivers, riparian lands and the creatures that inhabit them to Virginia, for situating it in an exceptionally scenic setting along the James River and for building it in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.”

The Rice Center is named for Inger and Walter Rice, and Smock said the Scenic Virginia honor was especially appropriate because of something he remembered Inger Rice saying upon donating the land where the Rice Center sits. Rice said she wanted VCU to use the gift for research and education devoted to the commonwealth’s natural resources “and to preserve the scenic beauty of the land,” according to Smock.

“What could be more beautiful, what could be more scenic than a nine-foot-long Atlantic sturgeon that we’re working on?” he asked. “What could be better than middle-school-, high-school- and university-aged students who come out to the center and get their hands dirty and their feet wet in the wetlands and in the river?

“They are out there experiencing nature. They’re in amongst the scenic beauty that is the Rice Center.”

 

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Len Smock, director of the VCU Rice Center, accepts the Creative Scenic Enhancement Award at Scenic Virginia’s annual awards gala. Leighton Powell, executive director of Scenic Virginia, is seated. Members of Rice Center’s board of directors stand behind Powell.
Len Smock, director of the VCU Rice Center, accepts the Creative Scenic Enhancement Award at Scenic Virginia’s annual awards gala. Leighton Powell, executive director of Scenic Virginia, is seated. Members of Rice Center’s board of directors stand behind Powell.
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