Find Your Fellow Nature Enthusiasts in the Prince William Area
By Katherine Gotthardt
When you move to a new place and aren’t familiar with what the area offers, what are some strategies for getting yourself settled in? If you have children in school, you might get to know the teachers and other parents. Or if your children are younger, you might seek out a playgroup. If you like to bowl, you might look into joining a team. If you are interested in exploring and protecting Prince William County’s natural world, you might check out the Nokesville based Prince William Conservation Alliance (PWCA).
PWCA is a nonprofit working to preserve, protect and enhance natural resources through stewardship, recreation and education. Their programs aim to encourage participants to learn about wildlife and take part in activities that improve the quality of local natural areas and communities. While PWCA accomplishes this, they create a community of their own. As Kim Hosen, Executive Director, puts it, taking part in PWCA activities is “a good way to make friends and get to know like-minded people.”
The activities vary, everything from birding to nature walks to lectures to flower festivals to planting trees to maintaining trails. Throughout the year, there is something for every age.
Many of the activities take place at the Alliance’s headquarters, Merrimac Farm, 15020 Deepwood Lane, Nokesville. The 302-acre farm is home to wetlands and vernal pools, upland fields and hardwood forests that create a diverse habitat supporting a variety of wildlife.
Hosen says, “It’s a good way to explore nature close to home, learn more about wildlife and habitats of the area you are moving into, find the good birding spots, loop into opportunities to do a good deed…it’s a great way to meet other people who are interested in conservation and wildlife.”
Hosen also says that PWCA works to promote sustainable landscapes, creating quality wildlife habitat and improving the quality of backyards.
She suggests looking at the PWCA calendar and trying out a few different activities.
In June, PWCA is offering an insect survey, a bird walk and gardening days.
The insect survey offers participants the opportunity to take a closer look at butterflies, dragonflies and other insects at Merrimac Farm. The survey includes a walk through the uplands. Participants will get to help build wildlife information for this natural area.
On the bird watch, led by a naturalist, participants look for a variety of birds while traveling through the uplands to the edge of the floodplain, covering a variety of habitats, including the open fields and woodland edges of Merrimac Farm.
Gardening days are those dedicated to planting, weeding and maintaining plant life on the farm, especially the new trees, which were planted this past May.
The PWCA says all are welcome to take part in these activities, and no experience is necessary. RSVP’s are encouraged for some activities. For more information, visit www.pwconserve.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.