Layla Kenny, 2, checks out life inside a beehive at NatureFest 2019, a Town of Herndon partnership with the nonprofit organization, Friends of Runnymede Park.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
Environmental education begins with understanding through experience, and at NatureFest 2019, bees, butterflies, reptiles, arts and crafts, and more greeted visitors in an interactive and immersive event held Sunday, Sept. 29 at Runnymede Park, 195 Herndon Parkway in the Town of Herndon.
"A couple of surprises I anticipate at this year's event are that visitors will learn that the park is large and home to lots of wildlife and native vegetation," said Town of Herndon Forester John Dudzinsky as he helped set up for the annual event, now in its 21st year.
As visitors hiked paths to the 25 learning stations spread throughout the wooded floodplain along Sugarland Run, they quickly discovered how large Runnymede Park really is, 58 acres. Children and parents walked through forests and beside marshes with more than 450 native plant species. If they looked carefully, they could spy an array of insects such as dragonflies and damselflies, reptiles like turtles and snakes, and possibly a blue heron, raccoon or deer.
The Friends of Runnymede Park co-sponsored NatureFest with Herndon Parks and Recreation Department in support of its mission to engage citizens in environmental stewardship. Volunteers and others showcased the assets of the park and combined learning with fun activities. At Station 6, Olivia Hampton, 3, of Herndon, learned about monarchs and moths.
Danny Kenny brought his daughter Layla, 2, to the beehive station. "We think we live in the city, but nature is all around us," he said as his daughter got a closer look at the hive protected by a Plexiglas barrier. Anant Bellapu, 7, of Herndon and the Ivanov sisters of Reston, Emma, 3½, and Nora, 6, played Bird Bingo, learning to identify birds common to the area.
A copy of the Park Dedication in 2007, delivered by David Swan, member of Friends of Runnymede Park, as viewed on the organization's Park History page, summed up why the organization committed and remained committed in 2019 to the vision of fulfilling the promise of an interpretive park, one that would generate understanding, appreciation and protection of the park. According to a frweb.org, Swan said, "I believe that an environmentalist from Madagascar, Baba Dioum, best described why it is important for us to promote environmental education: ‘For, in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.’"