Friday, November 1, 2019

Our Nature Program Receives Dominion Funding

The Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation is pleased to be one of 135 organizations statewide to receive funding through Dominion Energy’s environmental stewardship grant program. The grant of $10,000 toward the Nature Explorers And Restorers (NEAR) project makes it possible for students who live near lower Four Mile Run to learn about their nearby nature. '

Local youth to experience nearby nature
and improve the environment
at Four Mile Run.
NEAR program mainly serves elementary and middle school-age youth in Arlandria, Chirilagua, Hume Springs, and Lynhaven, with youth program provider partners including Community Lodgings and Casa Chirilagua.

“Exploring nature up close and improving things by hand, kids build a personal relationship to land, water, and community that makes them happier, healthier, and stronger in their environmental stewardship,” says Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation President Kurt Moser. “Dominion’s support allows us to provide quality programming where kids make scientific observations, protect natural lands, and discover the miraculous urban ecosystem here at Four Mile Run.”

Dominion Energy spokesperson Peggy Fox adds, “At Dominion Energy, we love the great outdoors and are going to great lengths to protect the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, preserving wildlife habitats and protecting our natural resources. For the future of our planet, its essential our youth learn about the environment and conservation. There’s no better way to do that than by exploring the streams and parks around us. We’re so pleased to support the NEAR program which, no doubt, gives young people a life-long appreciation of nature.”

As program participants visit different areas of Four Mile Run Park, they learn about various facets of Four Mile Run’s ecosystem using equipment such as binoculars, microscopes, magnifiers, and field identification guides, recording their observations and experiences in journals. Providing them with mud boots and gloves for fieldwork opens areas of the park to them that they might not otherwise find accessible.

NEAR is offered in partnership with the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN), whose volunteers share their local expertise in biology, ecology, and natural history. ARMN volunteers took part in the inaugural summer pilot of the program, which received funding through a grant from Virginia American Water. For master naturalist volunteers, it has been an opportunity to connect with young people and nature at Four Mile Run.

Commenting on the success of the pilot program, Fifer Learning Center Coordinator Gwen Spitzhoff said, “students at Community Lodgings learned about animal habitats, our local watershed, and the importance of taking care of our environment. We are so grateful for our partnership with the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation and the work they are doing to educate our kids.”