Virginia First Lady Pam Northam visits Virginia Beach students on Thursday

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia’s first lady was in Hampton Roads on Thursday.

Pam Northam visited students at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center.

The foundation just launched a new classroom this spring that houses the environmental studies program for Virginia Beach Public Schools.

“This became this next-level of education for us,” said Chris Gorri, who is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Brock Environmental Center Manager. “We’re so excited that we get to bring 30,000 students and teachers out across the watershed, but now we have this opportunity to engage students in the building that we built.”

The project began in 2016. The building was constructed of reclaimed materials and produces all of its own energy.

Earlier Thursday, students gave Northam a tour of the classroom and showed her fish and aquatic life they’ve caught.

“It was amazing to hear their energy and enthusiasm, their excitement over project-based learning. to be able to get out here, to touch the materials that they’re working with, to core trees,” said Northam. “It’s a lesson like no other.”

Students also showed Northam some of the projects they’ve been working on, including studying trees for evidence of climate change, oyster restoration, and more.

“We talk about the importance of hands-on, project-based learning,” said Northam. “These students are really thinking about the interconnectivity of the environment in a new way because they’re able to be in it while they are learning about it.”

The initiative is part of a 25-year partnership between CBF and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, both of which are nationally recognized for their sustainable buildings and green initiatives.

“These are the next generation of environmental leaders and they will have had, they will have been impacted here in Hampton Roads at CBF’s Brock Environmental Center,” said Gorri.

All high school students in Virginia Beach can apply to participate in this program. Click here for more information.

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