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VIRGINIA NATURALLY

MWEE Field Study Locations

Sites with MWEE Programs and Field Investigation Areas

Augusta Springs (Harrisonburg):
Augusta Springs Wetlands, a fully accessible U.S. Forest Service wetlands trail in the North River Ranger District in the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest. The Wetlands are great for people of all ages to visit, and students of all ages will enjoy learning more there about the role that forests play in protecting and enhancing our most precious resource- clean water.

Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia (Boyce):
Blandy Experimental Farm is a 700-acre University of Virginia research facility situated in the northern Shenandoah Valley, about 10 miles east of Winchester and 60 miles west of Washington, D.C. Blandy is also the home of the State Arboretum of Virginia, displaying more than 8,000 trees and woody shrubs. Self directed and instructor led programs are available for teachers. Go to Blandy Experimental Farm

Boxerwood Nature Center and Gardens (Lexington):
Boxerwood is situated in a rolling Virginia valley nestled between the Allegany and Appalachian Mountains. The thirty acre site contains six distinct habitats and fifteen acres of mature, naturalistically planted trees and shrubs, featuring both native and unusual plant specimens. The Boxerwood Education Association (BEA) sponsors many educational programs, special events, and community activities to further its mission "to educate and inspire people of all ages to be successful and environmentally responsible stewards of the earth. Go to Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Gloucester):
Informal and formal education programs for K-12 and college audiences, teacher-training workshops, and programs for the general public are available Field-trip activities include exploration of salt marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation, and shallow-water habitats; collection of fish, crabs, and other invertebrates; and water-quality and watershed studies. Go to CBNERR Education

Claytor Nature Study Center (Lynchburg):
The Claytor Nature Study Center is a 470-acre outdoor classroom and laboratory dedicated to the study and appreciation of our natural environment. The center boasts the 7,700-square-foot A. Boyd Claytor III Education and Research Facility, Belk Astronomical Observatory, an antebellum farmhouse with landscaped gardens, and many natural features. These resources enhance the College's educational programs, offering Lynchburg College students and regional PreK-12 students and teachers the opportunity to participate in hands-on environmental research. Go to Claytor Nature Study Center

Danville Science Center (Danville):
Interactive exhibits, lively hands-on activities, a natural history collection and exciting educational programs make Danville Science Center the perfect setting for science engagement. Learning experiences are outside the classroom, but within your curriculum. Access to the Dan River and excellent programming makes this a perfect spot for part of your MWEE. Go to Danville Science Center

Green Adventure Project (Charlottesville):
The G.A.P. curriculum highlights the importance of the natural world, reinforcing what students learn in the classroom, while maintaining the Virginia Standards of Learning. Programs are taught by enthusiastic and professional staff, who have undergone intensive training to ensure your group has a safe, educational, and fun experience that will excite students about science and the environment. To see all their exciting, educational programs go to Green Adventure Project

Gulf Branch Nature Center (Arlington):
In Arlington this nature center is nestled in a lovely park setting and is staffed with friendly and knowledgeable people. The center provides interpretive environmental education programs for all ages and for a wide variety of audiences including small groups. The following websites will give you complete information Gulf Branch Nature Center and Friends of Gulf Branch Nature Center

Hidden Oaks Nature Center (Annandale):
Set within 52 acre Annandale Community Park, Hidden Oaks Nature Center is located in the heart of Fairfax County, a few minutes inside the Capital Beltway. The woods surrounding the center feature an easy loop trail 1/3 mile long. Seasonal brochures enable visitors to discover the changing nature of the woodland at points along the trail. For further exploration, additional trails lead through the woods to two streams. Go to Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Hidden Pond Nature Center (Springfield):
Acres of undisturbed woodland, quiet trails, splashing streams and a tranquil pond are just a few of the reasons to visit Hidden Pond Nature Center. Tucked away in Springfield, Hidden Pond is a neighborhood haven filled with wondrous things. Hidden Pond, at 25 acres, lies adjacent to the much larger Pohick Stream Valley Park which boasts over 700 acres. A new 2000-foot trail and bridge has connected the two parks, so that many more neighbors and guests can visit the Hidden Pond Nature Center as well as the pond, streams, wetlands, woods and other quiet places that these preserves have to offer. Go to Hidden Pond Nature Center

Huntley Meadows Park/Nature Center (Fairfax):
Nestled in Fairfax County's Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. Its 1,425 acres harbor majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life. Some of the best wildlife watching in the Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, people have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies and herons. Go to Huntley Meadows Park

Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center/ Dora Kelley Nature Park (Alexandria):
Just outside the Nature Center lies Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland. Naturalist-led tours of the park are available upon request for groups of eight or more (reservations required). A self-guided booklet, available at the Nature Center, interprets the natural features of the park using numbered signposts along the trail. Go to Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center

Long Branch Nature Center (Arlington):
The center is on 17 acres of Oak-Hickory Forest connecting to Glencarlyn Park with access to Long Branch stream, Four-Mile Run and the W&OD bike trail. The nature center features animal exhibits, a children's discovery room, an indoor pond, and many educational programs. Go to Long Branch Nature Center and Park

Mill Mountain Discovery Center (Roanoke):
Exciting classes, awesome exhibits, and award-winning outreach programs are just some of the things at Discovery Center. This unique facility is surrounded by hundreds of acres of rugged forests all while being conveniently located within the City of Roanoke on the summit of Mill Mountain. Discovery Center offers opportunities for all ages and abilities to explore our natural world through classes, workshops, special events, and summer camps. Go to Discovery Center

Potomac Overlook Nature Center and Park (Arlington):
Potomac Overlook Regional Park features over 2 miles of scenic woodland hiking trails with access to the Potomac River. Youth and nature-oriented groups and schools may make arrangements for special programs throughout the year. There is no charge for most programs for groups within NVRPA's six jurisdictions. Go to Potomac Overlook - Nature Center

Riverbend Park/Visitors Center (Fairfax):
Tucked away in a remote river setting, Riverbend Park has over 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Trails include a 2.5 mile portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail linking national and regional parkland. Riverbend Park offers programs, classes, and tours for all ages; with programs for school groups, scouts, families, and individuals. The Center includes self-guided activities for children, live animal displays, natural and cultural exhibits, snack bar, ice cream and gift shop. Go to Riverbend Park

Robins Nature and Visitor Center at Maymont Park (Richmond):
The Robins Nature & Visitor Center at Maymont is dedicated to native Virginia wildlife. Rather than displaying a host of exotic creatures from distant seas, the Nature Center interprets the natural environment of the James River. Guests are astonished to discover the staggering variety of species living in Richmond's own backyard. Go to Maymont Foundation - Nature Center

Rockwood Park Nature Center (Chesterfield):
The nature center offers nature and outdoor programs for all ages. Rockwood has over five miles of trails that ramble through forest, pond, wetlands and Falling Creek. Trails are suitable for young and old hikers. Some trails are accessible for wheelchairs. Go to Rockwood Nature Center

Rust Nature Sanctuary (Leesburg):
Their 68 acres encompass meadows, forests, and ponds where you'll find a variety of wildlife and plants. During a visit, you might encounter nesting songbirds from the tropics in the oak-hickory forest, a fox hunting in our meadow, or colorful dragonflies darting above the pond. To get a complete description of programs offered go to Audubon Naturalist Society

Sandy Bottom Nature Park (Hampton):
Hampton's premier park is a 456 acre environmental education and wildlife management facility. Born from borrow pits and garbage dumps, the park is truly a success story of reclamation of our natural resources. From the 10,000 square foot nature center overlooking Sandy Bottom Lake to the elusive creatures that inhabit the wetland marshes, there is something for everyone at the Sandy Bottom NaturePark. Go to Sandy Bottom Nature Park

Three Lakes Park and Nature Center (Henrico):
Three Lakes Park and Nature Center bring together the three worlds of air, water, and land for visitors to explore. The Nature Center is a 6,500 sq. ft. facility featuring a variety of exhibits designed to provide hands-on experiences. The 50,000 gallon aquarium also gives visitors a "fish-eye" view of the underwater world. Go to Three Lakes Park & Nature Center

VIMS Discovery Labs (Gloucester):
The monthly Discovery Lab series provides fun, family-friendly experiences and lifelong learning. Each lab focuses on a specific topic through a series of stations that provide hands-on activities for kids and adults. Participants look through microscopes, observe live animals, partake in crafts and games, and view research posters. Go to VIMS Discovery Labs

VCU Rice Center (Charles City Co.):
Located on 494 acres along the historic James River, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg, the Rice Center is rich in natural and cultural resources. The center has a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats that provide many research and educational opportunities. By involving students of all ages directly in the investigation of their world, they become better stewards of the resources upon which we all depend. Go to VCU Rice Center

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center (Virginia Beach):
Come explore over 800,000 gallons of one of the best aquariums and live animal habitats in the country at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Check out our hundreds of hands-on exhibits, outdoor aviary, nature trail, and marshlands. Plus you won't want to miss the 3D IMAX® Theater. Go to Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Virginia Living Museum (Newport News):
Compare marine vertebrate and invertebrate phyla to discover the amazing diversity of life in the Bay. Identify and classify live and preserved specimens such as sea stars, anemones, whelks and crabs, as well as bony and cartilaginous fish. Animal adaptations and survival strategies are emphasized. Go to Life in the Chesapeake Bay - A "Meaningful Watershed Experience" Program

Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville):
Full of innovative and exciting exhibits, important research, and inspirational education, the Virginia Museum of Natural History leaves a lasting impression. Their Education Program Guide is jam packed and downloadable. Wilson Park beside the museum is perfect for further field investigations and picnicking. Go to Virginia Museum of Natural History

Walker Nature Education Center (Reston):
The Walker Nature Education Center is the heart of Reston's 1,300 acres of open space. The Center provides a variety of educational and recreational resources, programs and facilities. The mission of the Center is to foster good environmental stewardship through the use of direct experiences and interpretive media. The Center enhances people's awareness, knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of the environment. Go to Walker Nature Center

Walney Visitor Center/Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (Chantilly):
Situated in a converted 1780 farmhouse, the center contains live animal exhibits, historic exhibits, children's touch table area, a greenhouse and classroom. Groups are welcome to explore the Visitor Center and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park on their own. The park also provides many educational programs. Go to Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

The Watermen's Museum Educational Programs (Yorktown):
The Watermen's Museum is a private non-profit museum located on the York River in historic Yorktown. Their exhibits are designed to illustrate and explain the importance of the work done by those who work the Chesapeake Bay. Their educational programs begin at the start of each school year and most programs are half-day. Go to Education Programs - Waterman's Museum

Generic Virginia Sites

County and City Parks:
Don't overlook your local county and city parks as places to investigate for meaningful watershed educational experiences.

Virginia State Parks:
There are 35 parks that have thousands of campsites, hundreds of cabins, more than 500 miles of trails and convenient access to Virginia's major waterways. Beaches, picnic shelters, family lodges, meeting facilities, festivals, concerts, nature programs, cultural happenings… and Your Backyard Classrooms curriculum.

Virginia State Forests:
The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) manages 21 state forests and other state lands totaling 67,580 acres. Also check out their Forest Education Centers and Education programs at Virginia Department of Forestry

Virginia Wildlife Management Areas:
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains 39 management areas totaling more than 201,000 acres for the benefit of all citizens for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Please note that facilities are limited, access is seasonal and you should check for other restrictions about the site near you. However, their staff will work with teachers on an individual basis. Go to Wildlife Management Areas

Virginia Wildlife Refuges:
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. Go to Refuge List by State to find the one closest to you.

Virginia's Natural Area Preserve System:
Virginia's Natural Area Preserve System harbor many of Virginia's exemplary natural communities and rare species, providing visitors with a unique outdoor experience. Note: to retain the natural conditions of preserves, facilities are limited. Preserves do not have restroom facilities or telephone service and may have poor or no cell phone coverage. Go to Virginia's Natural Preserves

National Parks in Virginia:
National parks, battlefields, and trails contain many of our nation's most treasured landscapes. We encourage you to "Explore Nature." Learn about the natural resources in parks, from the rocks under our feet to the sky overhead and everything in between. There are 31 national parks in Virginia. Go to National Parks in Virginia

National Forests in Virginia:
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stretch along the ruggedly beautiful Appalachian Mountains, extending from one end of Virginia to the other and even crossing into parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. Whether you are driving a back-country road, enjoying glorious fall colors, using binoculars to spot colorful neo-tropical birds, or savoring the peacefulness of wilderness, national forests are special places. Go to National Forests in Virginia.