Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center
Visit Alexandria's very own Nature Center! At the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center, you can see live animals up close and learn about the cultural and natural history of the neighboring Dora Kelley Nature Park. We offer year-round programs and interactive exhibits for children and adults of all ages. Come explore and enjoy Alexandria’s wild side with us!
5750 Sanger Ave. | Alexandria, VA | 703.746.5559
Hours of Operation:
Wednesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
*We are hiring Environmental Educators!*
Click here to view the flyer: RPCA is hiring
To view and register for Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center's classes and activities online, use WebTrac and type "Nature" in the keyword field, and select All in all drop down menus. For additional information, contact us at 703.746.5559.
|Backyard Nature (Virtual)||4/27||All ages||$5|
|Backyard Nature (In-person)||4/30||All ages||$5|
|Dog-Friendly Nature Hike with an Arborist||4/30||All ages||$3|
|City Nature Challenge (CNC) Guided Walks:||4/29-5/2||All ages||Free|
|CNC Guided Walk: Ben Brenman Meadow||4/29||All ages||Free|
|CNC Guided Walk: Dora Kelley Nature Park||4/30||All ages||Free|
|CNC Guided Walk: Holmes Run||5/1||All ages||Free|
|CNC Guided Walk: Four Mile Run||5/2||All ages||Free|
|Mosquito & Tick Management (Virtual)||5/4||Adults||Free|
|Wildlife Bike Ride||5/7||Adults||$5|
|Intro to Container Gardening||5/14||Adults||$5|
|Predator vs. Prey||6/25||7-12||$5|
|Pollinator Habitat & Food Sources||7/16||All ages||$5|
|Nature Trivia||8/12||12 & up||$5|
|Nature Trivia (Virtual)||8/18||12 & up||$5|
To see program descriptions and to register, click here.
Eco Book Club
Do you have an interest in topics like our impact on the environment, climate change, ecosystems, or natural history? Join fellow nature enthusiasts to discuss ecology-themed books. No scientific background or expertise required. The first meeting is on May 5th. Space is limited, so sign up soon!
School Programs - Virtual & In-person
Bring the wonders of the Nature Center into your classroom! Let us help you cover your science standards with an engaging, interactive program built to meet Virginia's Standards of Learning. Some of our most popular program offerings include:
- Adaptations - Habitats & Ecosystems – Geology – Oceans - and more.
Looking for additional information and educational resources? Check out our “Educational Resources” page devoted to school programs and educational resources for teachers, educators, and families.
Weekdays at the Nature Center
Enhance your weekday visit to the Nature Center. All mini-interactives start at 11 a.m. and are free and open to the public
Storytime – Join us for a short story in our library.
Animal Brunch – Watch our animal ambassadors snack on their favorite foods.
Animal Meet & Greet – Get to know an animal ambassador that lives at the Nature Center.
Nature-Themed Birthday Parties
**Currently on Hold**
The Nature Center offers birthday parties for children ages 4 to 12. Each birthday party includes two-hour use of the party room, a Naturalist-led hike and a visit from some of your favorite live animals. Families will be given an additional 30-minutes each for set-up and clean-up. Base fee covers up to 14 children. $10 for each additional child (up to 20 children total).
City of Alexandria residents: $225 (additional $40 fee for nonresidents)
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Nature Center is not offering birthday parties or taking any reservations at this time. Please check back for updates.
Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts
Bring your troop to earn a badge, patch, bead, challenge, or "try-it" at the nature center. We will provide the learning activities, program materials, and set a time to suit your troop's schedule (you provide the badge, patch, etc.)
Are you working on an individual badge or award? Contact us to create a project tailored to your requirements.
$50 per troop for up to 15 children ($5 for each additional child).
Dora Kelley Nature Park
Just outside the Nature Center lies Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland. A paved bike trail connecting Sanger Ave. and Van Dorn St. winds through the park which is ADA accessible.
Seasonal tours of the park are offered periodically by the City's Natural Resource Manager, Rod Simmons. Stay tuned for upcoming dates. These tours are free of charge.
Stop by the Nature Center for more information or a map.
A variety of volunteer opportunities are available through the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center for ages 16 and above. Positions include naturalist aide, trails and grounds maintenance volunteer, and visitor experience volunteer. Volunteer opportunities for groups can be arranged by contacting Tarryn Lee.
Visit www.alexandriava.gov/Volunteer for a complete list of available volunteer opportunities, position descriptions, and to submit an application.