The Learning Barge

Plan A Beautiful Day Of Learning On The Water

The Elizabeth River Project's Dominion Energy® Learning Barge is our amazing floating river laboratory and classroom. Since 2009, nearly 100,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade have hopped aboard to learn about everything from wetlands, wildlife restoration and sea-level rise to the iconic Chesapeake Bay blue crab. Treat your students to a day on the Learning Barge, and they’ll know how to treat the river for life.

Everything you need to know about your trip to the Learning Barge

About the Barge​

  • The only vessel in the world with a LIVE tidal wetland on board
  • Six hands-on learning stations teach SOL-linked lessons on river ecology
  • Designed by the University of Virginia School of Architecture, winning more than a dozen national awards.

Over a decade of education and stewardship!

13 Years
on the Water
96,000
K-12 visitors
1 Great
Way to Learn
Thanks to all the generous donors who keep the Learning Barge afloat.
Without your help, none of our learning programs would be possible.
Do Something Beautiful. Support the Learning Barge today.

The Learning Barge on Wheels!​​

Our all-new Learning Barge on Wheels is the new sister ship to the Learning Barge. It delivers fun learning and river science activities right to your school parking lot, or even to a small group of kids in your neighborhood. 

Field Trips

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Summer Mace

Assistant Director of Education
Summer received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with an emphasis on Marine Biology in 2017 from Old Dominion University. Starting as an educator on the Learning Barge, she quickly realized her passion for environmental education and the importance of providing meaningful and positive learning experiences for the next generation of river stewards. Going into her third year as Learning Barge Manager, she is ready to continue sharing her love of the Elizabeth with students of all ages aboard her favorite education vessel!
Katie-Petersen

Kathryn Petersen

Senior Educator

Katie is a 2020 Old Dominion University Graduate who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Health Science. She has previous experience interning at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and working with organizations such as Keep Norfolk Beautiful. Katie is passionate about environmental education, and excited to teach young minds the importance of keeping the river healthy for generations to come!

Carolina Chocano

Seasonal Educator

Carolina graduated from Old Dominion University in 2020 and received her Bachelors in Communications with a minor in Biology. She previously worked for ODU as an Outdoor Adventure Program Trip Leader, and is now excited to work for the ERP as a Seasonal Educator teaching the youth about the importance of our river!

Hayley White

Hayley White

Seasonal Educator

Hayley recently graduated from the University of Virginia with her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Thought and Practice. She has previous experience as an intern for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Team and Clean the Bay Day Team. Hayley grew up in the Elizabeth River watershed and is excited to share her knowledge with students aboard the Learning Barge!

Candice Burke

Candice Burke

Seasonal Educator

Candice studied outdoor education in Colorado and came to Virginia to explore opportunities closer to the water. She is excited to be here in Norfolk pursuing her professional SCUBA diving career, while working with the Elizabeth River. She is excited to educate the next generation of environmental advocates on the importance of protecting our water systems.

Shannon Yerabek

Shannon Yerabek

Seasonal Educator

Shannon graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geographic Science with a concentration in Environmental Studies. She has previous environmental education experience and is passionate about sharing environmental stewardship actions with the Learning Barge students!

Caroline Luzzatto

Caroline Luzzatto

Seasonal Educator

Caroline is a graduate of Emory University and of Old Dominion University’s teacher certification program. She has worked as a newspaper journalist in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and as an elementary and preschool teacher. Caroline is passionate about helping young people learn more about our river and empowering them to shape the world they will inherit.

Kelsey Bonham

Kelsey Bonham

Seasonal Educator

Kelsey graduated from Colgate University in 2022 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Geography, and worked in the university’s Office of Sustainability for four years. She has conducted environmental research as far away as Siberia, but fell in love with the Elizabeth River while working as a sailing instructor at Nauticus. Kelsey is passionate about sea level rise and coastal resilience, and is thrilled to be able to engage younger generations in their local environment.