Henrico County Public Schools today celebrated its new Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Varina High School at a grand opening event in partnership with Meta and the Henrico Education Foundation. The new high school specialty center will get students into the field for hands-on learning about the environment.
A generous donation from Meta — formerly Facebook — will fund equipment and materials at the center, including updated labs, a greenhouse and a mobile water quality testing lab to create experiential learning opportunities for students in the classroom and on the banks of the James River. The company’s partnership with Henrico County Public Schools will showcase the importance of renewable energy and sustainable practices in the commonwealth of Virginia for the next generation.
“Given Henrico’s geography and rich natural resources, our community is a living, breathing classroom for students as they explore topics such as renewable energy, environmental stewardship and sustainable practices,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “Besides materials and equipment, this incredible partnership with Meta gives students a chance to interact with and learn from Meta employees who will volunteer at the center.”
“Henrico County has been our home since 2017, and we are invested in helping schools build strong learning communities,” said Kelley McCall, community development regional manager at Meta. “As part of our overall investment in the community, we are excited to support the great work of Henrico County Public Schools which will help inspire an interest in environmental science and sustainability for years to come through this new center at Varina High School.”
Students attending the Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainability will study biology, chemistry and environmental science along with unique coursework in geospatial technology and applied environmental physics. The center’s dual enrollment courses, outdoor service-learning projects and internships are catalysts for potential careers as environmental engineers, scientists, wind turbine technicians and sustainability specialists. Students at the new center will use facilities at the Varina High School campus and at Wilton Farm, adjacent to the James River in eastern Henrico. The Environmental Education Living Building at Wilton Farm was approved by Henrico voters as part of the 2022 school projects bond referendum, which passed with 86% approval. The facility will be used by students at all HCPS schools.
“The Henrico Education Foundation is proud to partner with Meta and Henrico County Public Schools on this innovative new center that will deepen the connection that students have with their curriculum, create new opportunities for hands-on learning and open new doors to future career paths,” said Jay Shively, interim chief executive officer of the foundation.
Reprinted with permission of Henrico County Public Schools.
Students, staff, county officials and school leaders gather Wednesday with representatives of Meta and the Henrico Education Foundation to celebrate the new Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Varina High School. The ceremony was held at the site of the center's future greenhouse, which is under construction.
Jay Shively, interim chief executive officer of the foundation.
Kelley McCall, community development regional manager at Meta.
Students enrolled in the Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Varina High School build a windmill Wednesday afternoon as part of a class project.