Institute Report April 2014 - page 1

VirginiaMilitary InstituteNewsletter, VolumeXLII, Number VI, April 2014
Protecting theWater and aWay of Life
Engineers without BordersWorks on Reef Restoration at SouthCarolina Shore
B
y
C
hris
F
loyd
Each year, right about this time,
thousands of college students flock
to the coast for spring break. Most
of themaren’t carryingbagsofoyster
shells.
Butmembersof theVMIchapterof
Engineers Without Borders carried
plenty when they spent their spring
break inSouthCarolinaworkingwith
residents of a local fishing village to
help preserve theirway of life.
“The kids who are members of
EngineersWithoutBorderscameup
with the idea,”saidCapt. John“Ned”
Reister ’78, theVMI facultymember
who accompanied the cadets to
McClellanville, S.C., a little town
about 30 miles from Charleston.
“Theywork hard.”
Thework on this EWB trip consisted of packing, hauling, and planting
bagsof recycledoyster shells. TheVMI contingent filledhundredsof bags,
eachweighingbetween30and40pounds,everydayandhauled them to the
shoreline,where theywould line thebags in the surf tocreateamakeshift
reef. By theendof theeight-day trip, the
grouphadpackedandplacedmore than
1,000 bags of oyster shells.
The idea is to create an environment
where more oysters, as well as other
sea life, can grow and thrive. Each bag
of empty shells will eventually become
home to new oysters, as well as other
species of ocean-going creatures.
“Eighty-five percent of the world’s
oyster population has disappeared,”
noted Riester, whose group worked
with the Sewee to Santee Community
Development Corp. while in South
Carolina. “You loseanything, and it just
impactseverything.Down there, theyare
doingverywell, really turned itaround.”
Projects like this one are a major
reason for that. The residents of
McClellanville have been replenishing their oyster beds for several years,
and as a result they have been able tomaintain their way of life. That is
something that was not lost on the cadetswhowere therehelpingout.
“Theworkwedid inMcClellanvillewasvital toboth the localeconomy
Moving oyster shells are cadets (from left) Allison Partin ’17,
AshleyMcManus ’17, Katherine Kondas ’14, John Partin ’14, and
VaniaMurcia ’17.
Photo courtesy of Capt. Ned Riester ’78.
‘Wildly Improbable’ Life
Illuminates Colonial History
B
y
J
ohn
R
obertson
IV
Col. TurkMcCleskey, professor of history, is offering a view of life on
the Colonial American frontier by telling the story of African-American
blacksmithEdward Tarr in
TheRoad toBlackNed’s Forge
.
Tarr’s home was situated on the Great Wagon Road leading from
Philadelphia through Virginia. His 270 acres encompassed what is now
Interstate 81 Exit 195 in northernRockbridge County.
“All of history is about people in particular times and places,” said
McCleskey. “The time is 1680-1780, the place is the Colonial American
backcountry, and the people includeBlackNed.”
Tarr grewup a slaveworking in the iron industry inPhiladelphia for at
least three masters. When his last master, Thomas Shute, died, he gave
Ned the opportunity topurchase his freedom, which he did in1752.
Havingmarriedawhitewoman inPennsylvania, Tarrmoved toVirginia,
purchased270 acres of land, andwent intobusiness as ablacksmith. He
was one of the foundingmembers of Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church,
and his forge became a local landmark.
Please see page 13
Please see page 20
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