(Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, Summer 2006)
"People who know a place may come to care about it more deeply. People who care about a place are more likely to take better care of it. And people who take care of places, one place at a time, are the key to the future of humanity and all living creatures."
—Robert Thayer, Lifeplace
In spring 2006, NVSWCD launched NEST (Neighborhood Ecological Stewardship Training), an exciting series of adult education programs designed to increase participants' connection to their local environment and the larger Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The program, coordinated by NVSWCD watershed specialist, Joanna Cornell, also constituted the heart of her dissertation research.
The NEST program's six part series introduced participants to watershed and stream ecology, soil, and native and invasive plants. Land-based and water-based exploration outings, including kayak trips, wildflower hikes and bird walks got participants outdoors experiencing their environment firsthand. Outdoor arts workshops in photography, fine arts, soil art, journaling, meditation, music and creative writing challenged participants to connect with their local spaces and ecology in creative, new ways.
The program was extremely successful with more than 200 adults participating in the program and more than 40 nonprofit organizations, agencies and private businesses contributing supplies, programs, and enthusiasm to NEST. Participants made new friends, found new natural spaces to enjoy and protect, discovered new hobbies, and renewed and created connections to their neighborhoods, natural resources, and open spaces. NVSWCD is thrilled with the success of this program and plans to continue the NEST program in the region. So look for NEST in your community!
Whether it was celebrating nature through music (left), exploring our region's open spaces (center), or by building community through group activities (right) the NEST program brought people closer to nature, to their neighborhoods, and to each other.
"[Participating in NEST] I learned a lot more than I expected — I thought I understood what a watershed is, but I think I have a much better idea now, and the information about soil and invasive plants was a real eye-opener. Now, I look at the woods I hike through with different eyes."
"Thank you very much for the NEST program. It was just what I needed to feel connected to my community."
"I've gotten to visit more parks in the time I participated in NEST than in the 10 years I've lived in the area."