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.
|The Unique Snowflake||1/14||7-10||$5|
|Why Can't Penguins Fly?||1/21||2-6||$5|
|Solar System Explorers||1/23||6-11||$75|
|Tracking the Force of Nature||2/1||14+||$5|
|Animals, Plants, Fungi, Oh My!||2/18||10-12||$5|
|The Ecology of Snakes: Serpentology!||2/22||14+||$5|
|Art and Nature||3/13||6-11||$75|
|Bioluminescence: How Animals Glow||3/16||12-18||$5|
|What to Do When You Encounter Wildlife||3/22, 3/23||6+||5|
|Winter Tree ID Hike||3/2||16+||Free|
To see program descriptions and to register, click here then click the "Environmental Education" tile.
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.
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
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 a visit from some of your favorite live animals, and an animal feeding. Families will be given an additional 30-minutes each for set-up and clean-up. Maximum 15 children.
City of Alexandria residents: $275 ($300 non-residents)
Optional: craft add-on $3/child
- Creepy Crawlies
- African Adventure
- Alexandria Natives
- Survival Strategies
- Animals from Around the World
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 Stephen Florence.
Visit www.alexandriava.gov/Volunteer for a complete list of available volunteer opportunities, position descriptions, and to submit an application.
Steve Florence, Manager
MJ Jarrar, Program Coordinator
Erin Dempsey, Environmental Educator