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Page updated Apr 13, 2014 11:54 AM

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Nature Center big imageJerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center

5750 Sanger Ave.
Alexandria, VA

Director: Mark S. Kelly, Naturalist
Hours of Operation: 

  • Wednesday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
  • Sunday: 1 - 5 pm (April - November)
  • Closed: Monday & Tuesday
  • Holiday Schedule 

Visit Alexandria’s very own Nature Center! At the Nature Center, you can see live animals up close and learn about the cultural and natural history of Dora Kelley Nature Park. The Naturalists on staff are here to help you and your family explore and enjoy Alexandria’s wild side! The Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center provides year-round programs and exhibits on Alexandria’s human and natural history. For more information, or to make program reservations, please call the Nature Center at 703.746.5525. 



Nature "Buddies" Afterschool Program

The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities is offering a new afterschool program at the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Center, 5750 Sanger Avenue, where children can stay until parents get off work. This alternative program provides a safe, quiet setting for homework, study, reading, nature walks and other nature -oriented activities. Open to children ages five to ten, the program operates Monday through Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., September 2, 2013 through June 20, 2014.

Program roster for the afterschool "Buddies" is currently full, but parents are encouraged to add their child's name to the wait list by calling the Naturalist staff. Registration fee is $325 per month. Bus transportation is available from select City of Alexandria public schools. Juice and snacks are included in registration fee.

For additional information, call the Naturalist staff at 703.746.5525.


Dora Kelley Nature Park Dora Kelly 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. Naturalist-led tours of the park are available upon request for groups of eight or more (reservations required). A self-guided booklet, available at the Nature Center, interprets the natural features of the park using numbered signposts along the trail. A paved bike trail connecting Sanger Ave. and Van Dorn St. winds through the park which is ADA accessible.







Nature Center Exhibit 2Year-Round Exhibits 

  • Mary Anne Warner’s beautiful 16’ x 7’ oil mural, “Wildlife of the Dora Kelley Nature Park”
  • Mounted black bear, red fox, turkey and bobcat
  • Interpretive exhibits on local geology, prehistory, and history
  • Live turtles, snakes, toads and salamanders
  • Aquarium with large Eastern snapping turtle from Holmes Run
  • Exhibit on Alexandria’s birds of prey
  • Reference library with children’s section
  • Games and activity stations for children
  • Greenhouse with tropical rainforest plants and live parrot



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.) $30 per troop for up to 15 children ($2 fro each additional child). Please call 703.746.5525 to reserve.



School Field Trips  Nature Center Field Trip 

Teachers are encouraged to set up a field trip to the newly expanded Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center this school year, or let one of our Naturalist staff come to your school for an outreach program! Interpretive programs are designed to assist teachers in meeting Virginia’s SOL requirements. Please call 703.746.5525 for more information.




Volunteer Opportunities 

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available through the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center for ages 16 and above. Positions include front desk attendant, park conservation aide, and park watch assistant. Volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups in outdoor conservation and trail maintenance are also available from 10am-12pm on the first Saturday of each month. Sign-up for volunteer training or to dchedule community service by calling 703.746.5525.



Birthday Parties Nature Center Birthday Parties 

The Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center now offers birthday parties for ages 4 to 12. Each 90 minute birthday party features live animals, a nature-oriented activity, and use of a private room. Fee (residents): $165 for a party of up to 12 children. To secure a party date, prior registration and payment are required. For booking information and forms, please call 703.746.5525.





Facility Rental

The Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center’s activity room is available for use and rental by community groups and organizations. Please call 703.746.5525 for more information.






Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center "Nature News"

Good News! The Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center’s quarterly “Nature News” has gone digital. Now, you can learn about nature programming and special events free of charge. Upcoming weekend nature programs, volunteer opportunities, adult hikes, and special events are listed with direct links to the City’s registration webpage. In addition, the new and improved newsletter features informative articles and photo features depicting the latest information on the flora and fauna Dora Kelley Nature Park.   




Nature ProgramsNature Center Programs 

All classes are held at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center (BUDEF) unless otherwise noted. To view and register for Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center classes and activities on line, CLICK HERE and search on Nature Programs in the Activity Type. For additional information, call the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center staff at 703.746.5525.






















1108 Jefferson St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.838.6344

Office Hours
8 am - 5 pm

James B. Spengler