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First Lady Boards Our Barge!

"It was a joy to be on the barge"

-First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe

The First Lady of Virginia understands the value of outdoor learning – and she’s not shy about joining in.

“You can’t just have classrooms… Taking children to what they’re learning about is so powerful,” she told an intimate Elizabeth River Project luncheon for donors and dignitaries on April 18, following her experience joining Norfolk fourth graders from Tidewater Park Elementary Schoolaboard the Elizabeth River Project’s Dominion Virginia Power Learning Barge.

While aboard, the First Lady looked through binoculars to observe a nearby osprey nest with the students, then sat alongside them to build her own osprey nest. She learned about Elizabeth River water quality, how to identify the different species among the live wetland grasses on board the barge and more.

Joining the adults for lunch at Grandy Village Learning Center, she said it had been “a joy to be on the barge.” Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, Vice Mayor Angelia Williams and Norfolk Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melinda Boone were among those observing the field trip with the First Lady.

Launched in 2009, the Learning Barge has welcomed more than 50,000 of all ages to learn how they can help restore the environmental quality of the urban Elizabeth River. Coming in 2016: A new curriculum will pair the Learning Barge with Paradise Creek Nature Park for integrated river learning from pre-k to college.

Download more about the River Academy HERE.