Loudoun Wildlife Kicks Off 25th Year

Patrons of the Purcellville Pub on Jan. 15 met a new bartender—Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Executive Director Michael Myers.

The conservancy’s first full-time executive director was guest bartending at the first of a year of events to mark the organization’s 25th year. And the year and a half in which Myers has led the organization has been a busy one—on top of getting out more and spreading the message and a new challenge grant from the Claude Moore Foundation, the conservancy is buying land for the first time in its history, at the 87-acre JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary.

With the help of the Lucketts Ruritans and the Piedmont Environmental Council, the conservancy convinced JK Moving Services President and CEO Chuck Kuhn, and the Kuhn Family Foundation, to purchase the land, which is home to one of the world’s rarest habitats, put it under conservation easement, and sell it to the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

The Kuhn family is also known for other philanthropic efforts around Loudoun, such as the 150-acre JK Community Farm, where volunteers help Farm Manager Michael Smith grow fresh crops to donate to local food pantries through Loudoun Hunger Relief.

Myers said it’s all part of the conservancy’s efforts to balance out Loudoun’s rapid growth, and to get the conservancy more into the public eye—all tasks he was hired to do.

“They’ve been an organization for over 20 years, but not everyone knows about Loudoun Wildlife, so how do we do that, and how do we become more mature?” Myers said.

The conservancy is known for, among other things, its annual butterfly count and other citizen science programs gathering more than 20 years of data on Loudoun’s environment, its tours, and wildlife spotting.

“We hear from regular citizens who say, ‘I wish we had this program or that program,’ and we say, we actually do that,” Myers said.

The event at the Purcellville Pub is only the first in a year of celebration for Loudoun Wildlife, on top of the regular events the conservancy already hosts—and only one of the charitable events the pub hosts regularly.

“Especially in Purcellville, there’s so many local organizations, and they all support each other, so I don’t think at any point have any of our regulars or customers rolled their eyes,” said owner Kevin Bednarz, who opened the Purcellville Pub in June 2019. “They embrace it.”

Bednarz said the pub has already hosted events for the Wounded Warrior Foundation, Boulder Crest Retreat, local high school teams, and others. For the wildlife foundation, the pub hosted a raffle of items donated by local businesses and gave the conservancy 10 percent of their food sales from the day.

“They were able to raise some money, but what I like and they also said was … it was low-key, it was people they know or people that never even heard of the conservancy got to come in, have a beer, rub elbows and have a good time,” Bednarz said.

Sign up to volunteer, join, or donate to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy at loudounwildlife.org.

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