The Norma Hoffman Visitor Center at Huntley Meadows Park is a public park facility that offers educational exhibits, public programs and park information. There’s a naturalist on hand during open hours. The center has an information desk, restrooms, natural resource exhibits, an auditorium and a classroom. The building occasionally hosts art exhibits, and there are rentable rooms. The center is the source for information about park trails, wildlife, the wetlands boardwalk, and Historic Huntley. There’s a rentable outdoor shelter near the center. Also nearby is a bird feeder and a tiny pond that occasionally attracts wildlife.
The visitor center at Huntley Meadows is named for Norma Hoffman, one of the most extraordinary volunteers in the Fairfax County Park Authority’s history.
Her impact began in 1978, when a planned four-lane road would have cut through Huntley Meadows Park. Ms. Hoffman had the foresight to understand the damage the road would cause. She established the Citizens’ Alliance to Save Huntley and enlisted scientific and legal help. Four decades later, there is no road.
The Alliance eventually grew to 600 members and succeeded in having the road plan removed from the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Hoffman then co-founded the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park in 1985, instituting a model that has been used by subsequent Friends groups at other county parks. Ms. Hoffman served as the Friends president, and in that role used wetland protection laws to prevent potential degradation to the park. The Alliance and the Friends worked collaboratively to secure state grants to fund bioengineering techniques that stabilized 1,000 feet of severely eroded stream banks upstream from the park. Her efforts eventually added more than 100 acres of wetlands to the park, led to the repair of several failing stormwater ponds on an adjacent golf course, and established a continuous pollution monitoring system, thus protecting a vital water passageway to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. She maintained an unrelenting pursuit on behalf of the acquisition of the mansion at Historic Huntley, which is now park property.
Ms. Hoffman volunteered at Huntley Meadows for nearly four decades. In 1992, the Sierra Club named her one of its 100 Environmental Heroes. She was honored with the Park Authority’s highest volunteer service award, received the annual Distinguished Volunteer Service Award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society, and in the week prior to her death in 2017 she was named a national Outstanding Volunteer by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials.
Ms. Hoffman taught thousands of children about nature and our responsibility to be environmental stewards. A Park Authority Board resolution noted that she tirelessly served community children in a 30-year crusade to imprint an appreciation for the environment through countless classes, hikes, and engaging stories. Norma passed away on Sunday morning, June 11, 2017, after a long illness.The Visitor Center at Huntley Meadows Park was named in her honor in 2013.