When the community of Reston was built, the association set aside 72 acres to promote education. The Walker Nature Education Center was born. In November, 2009, the Nature House opened its doors as a place for the community and visitors to connect with nature. When you step into the Nature House, it is unlike any facility you may have been to.
Nestled in the woods, it’s a certified green building, meaning almost everything in the building is environmentally friendly. Some of the features are harvested cypress siding, reclaimed hardwood floors from barns in Appalachia, recycled carpet flooring and a geothermal heat pump system. It is an impressive building evoking the feeling like you’re in a cozy cabin.
Let it be known that I am clueless about bird watching, yet I could spend hours looking at birds. Enter the naturalist. She was so nice and informative educating me on the types of birds that were hitting up the feeders and suet boxes. A variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies have been spotted on the property. On our visit, we saw the Eastern Gray Squirrel, American Crow, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Brown Creeper bird.
The Walker Nature Education Center participates in Project Feeder Watch. Twice a week from November to April, the center records feeder observations and sends the information to scientists at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The purpose is to help scientists learn more about winter bird populations.
The only living animals inside Nature House are an Eastern Box Turtle and Dace fresh water fish. It would be nice if they added a few more varieties. A small children’s area has stuffed animals and puppets, many of which are found on the property, a kid-sized table, coloring pages, books, magazines, and an animal tracks matching game. Children from infants to age 4 will enjoy these activities.
There are a few touch-and-feel items like a White-tailed Deer antler, Snowshoe Hare fur and bird feathers. A preserved Southern Flying Squirrel and other stuffed versions of animals and are in cases along with skulls of mammals and the foot of a Great-Horned Owl foot. Parents will like that there are tables, chairs and bay window seating to relax, read a book, or learn on the computer.
See turtles, tadpoles and various frogs in the wildlife pond or hike one of the trails. The area also has gardens, benches and a covered picnic pavilion. Just down the road is the fire pit which is available for rental. The building is stroller accessible and restrooms have a changing station. There is a large room with a kitchen that host nature-themed birthday parties. A little gift shop with apparel and stuffed animals is in the common room.
The Walker Nature Education center is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5pm and closed Tuesday. They are open Saturday from 10am to 1pm and Sunday from 1 to 4pm. Admission is free.
When you enter Nature House, check out the board showing upcoming educational programs, wildlife watch and plant preview. Pick up a magazine in the lobby a self-guided map of the park and a scavenger hunt sheet to use on your family’s nature walk. They host regular events for toddlers, elementary student, and adults, with some activities good for all ages.
Reservations are required along and there is an admission fee. Past events included Owl Investigations, and Paper Making. In February, attend Nature Game Night. While there wasn’t a lot of stuff my five year old could do, we still had fun spending time communing with nature.