By Gem Bingol
Do you pay attention to nature? Or are you too busy to notice? Maybe it makes you uncomfortable to envision all those creepy crawlies. Then again, you may enjoy nature-watching, and want to know more about the plants and animals around you.
If any of these thoughts sound familiar, Nature Stewardship Day at Dominion High School on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is for you and your family and friends. The rain date is Oct. 23.
This free event is being held by Dominion High School and its Environmental Explorations classes taught by Mary Young-Lutz. It is part of the One to the World initiative of the Loudoun Public Schools. Its goal is to help students develop competencies to address and solve problems by sharing their knowledge, and collaborating with others.
Dominion High School’s setting includes the Sugarland Run floodplain, a perfect outdoor classroom allowing Ms. Young-Lutz’s students to learn through experiences studying the natural world: tracking turtles and other amphibians, performing stream monitoring, and tagging Monarch butterflies, among many other outdoor activities.
At the event, you too will get a close-up look at bugs, birds, fish, streams, trees and more. You’ll learn how they interact and depend on each other, and how you can participate in this nature networking process.
Anxious to share their knowledge and experiences, your guides for the day will be students and supporting members of the Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance sponsor of the first Nature Stewardship Day. At the start of your visit, you will pick up a “Nature Stewardship Passport” designed by the students, outlining available activities and the times they are offered. Some activities will take you to the floodplain, some will be at stations in the parking lot, and some at nearby sites on school property. Plan to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for hiking the property. Potential activities are listed in the sidebar to this article.
There will be giveaways for completing the Passport, and food available at reasonable prices. And there’s a free bonus you’ll get automatically, just for attending Nature Stewardship Day: You will feel better. Many studies demonstrate the benefits of being outdoors in a natural setting. Nature generally makes people less stressed mentally and physically. Typically, even limited exposure to nature adjusts our minds and bodies to be more in tune with our surroundings, resulting in a sense of ease. The Nature Stewardship Day experience will leave you better informed and connected to the world around you.
Gem Bingol is head of the Clarke & Loudoun Land Use Field Staff of the Piedmont Environmental Council. PEC is providing support, and a grant, for the Environmental Explorations classwork from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund through Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay preservation license plate fees. The Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance is comprised of 39 local non-profits, businesses, and governmental agencies encouraging Loudoun residents to enjoy nature and learn to take better care of it. For information about LESA and PEC, go to loudounnature.org and pecva.org, respectively. In Our Backyard is compiled by the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition. To learn about the organization, or to participate in the Rural Road Initiative, go to loudouncoalition.org.