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WHRO Public Media Receives $3 Million Gift to Launch Extensive Environmental Education
Initiative, Delivering Free Earth Science Courses to All Virginia Students

NORFOLK, Va. (February 21, 2017) – WHRO Public Media has secured a $3 million gift from Hampton Roads community leader Jane Batten to launch an all-encompassing environmental education initiative for Pre-Kindergarten–12 students.

The Batten Environmental Education Initiative supports the development of a wide-range of educational products including online and video earth science courses, digital courses for teachers and students, a student-oriented video series, an interactive mobile student lab and other learning opportunities for younger students. Once the new environmental education courses and “learning objects” are completed, they will be distributed free of charge to all 132 public school divisions, 942 private schools and home school students throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, reaching a potential 1.3 million K–12 students.

This important initiative aligns with positions that Governor Terry McAuliffe has taken about the value of a transformative public education.  During the Governor’s annual State of the Commonwealth address, he stated, “We are transforming our K–12 system to prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century, with a particular emphasis on modernizing the SOLs and how we deliver high school education.” The Batten Environmental Education Initiative is designed to help accomplish these goals.

Learning objects will be distributed to schools through eMediaVA (Virginia) and PBS LearningMedia (national beyond Virginia).

Specifically, the program includes:

  • An SOL-aligned earth science online course
  • An earth science video course that includes foundational concepts for environmental literacy
  • The development of new learning objects using animation and “schoolhouse rock” creative treatments that can be added to existing online courses or used as stand-alone items for teachers
  • Partnerships with a variety of scientific and environmental organizations to digitize appropriate content relevant to earth science and environmental education with distribution through eMediaVA and PBS LearningMedia
  • Community outreach and student activities around environmental education using the WHRO STEM van
  • A mobile Sea Level Rise interactive student lab
  • A video series “Above the Waves” aimed at educating students about the effects of sea level rise
  • A series of student contests about environmental topics aligned to the Virginia Standards of learning


“WHRO Public Media was founded by our region’s educators, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of environmental education in Hampton Roads and throughout the Commonwealth,” stated Bert Schmidt, president and CEO of WHRO Public Media. “This would not have been possible without the generous support of Jane Batten and her substantial commitment to prepare today’s students to become our next generation of leaders.”


About WHRO: Since its founding in 1961 to support education, community-supported WHRO has employed creativity and technology to serve the residents of southeast Virginia in its mission to educate, inform and entertain viewers and listeners of WHRO’s four public television and eight public radio stations. Owned by 19 southeastern Virginia school divisions, WHRO also delivers online educational and new media services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month. To learn more, visit www.whro.org. Also, follow WHRO on Facebook and Twitter.