Families Flock to Hail to the Trail Event to Learn More about Nature
More than 100 people enjoyed a beautiful fall day in the woods exploring nature and listening to live music by Willie White at the second annual Hail to the Trail event at the Chapman DeMary Trail in Purcellville.
We co hosted the November 6th event with Town of Purcellville and many local organizations and businesses came out to the trail to show the community how to connect with nature and how to protect our natural resources.
Several activities focused on water. People got their feet wet and caught and identified creatures in the South Fork Catoctin Creek with the Audubon Naturalist Society and were amazed at the discovery of all the small creatures that live unseen under water. Piedmont Environmental Council showed how our actions can either help (planting trees) or harm (overusing fertilizer) our watershed.
The Nature Generation table was crowded with people who tested their knowledge about water with a trivia game and many others used our “TreeTrek,” “I Spy Trees,” and “Find the Sign” scavenger hunt guides to help them slow down to truly see and appreciate the beauty of our natural environment.
Kids of all ages created works of art using nature; they used sticks to paint masterpieces at the Purcellville Arts Council table and made pet rocks with trail sponsor Jason Sengpeihl of Allstate.
The Purcellville Library mascot owls brought a sampling of the many environmental books available at the library. Culbert Elementary School Green Crocs environmental club displayed what they learned in the environmental books we donated to them and how through their partnership they have been helping to keep the trail litter free.
People of all ages enjoyed learning ways to identify animals with molds of tracks and scat from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Wildlife Ambassadors were a big draw with the snakes, lizards, turtles, ferrets and ducks demonstration that allowed people to get close up observations of these animals that live in the wild.
Keep Loudoun Beautiful ran a game to teach people the difference between trash and recyclables, and handed out reusable bags to encourage everyone to use them instead of plastic bags. Trail sponsor The Maid Brigade collected several box loads of plastic bags to pass on to Trex, who will turn them into outdoor benches. Trail sponsor Middleburg Bank once again showed their support by handing out a variety of free giveaways to attendees.
The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship displayed samples of plants and seeds that they are found on the Chapman DeMary Trail, and the Loudoun County Tree Stewards showed the many ways trees benefit the environment by cleaning water through filtration, and by cleaning air by absorbing pollutants and providing oxygen, to name just a few.
Three guided hikes were led by Gina Faber, winner of McGranaghan Stewardship Award; Carol Ivory of the Loudoun County Tree Stewards; and Paul Miller with the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.
Several individuals and businesses who support the trail were recognized. We bestowed the McGranaghan Stewardship Award to Gina Faber Gina for her dedication of time and talent to enhancing the trail and educating others about this natural habitat. Two boy scouts whose trail projects earned the rank of Eagle were praised: Joshua Eager (Troop 39) built a beautiful arched foot bridge at the entrance to the nature park; and Adam Broschkovetch (Troop 969) built a long boardwalk over part of the trail path that was often too muddy to pass.
Trail sponsors were also recognized for their generous financial contributions: The Dominion Foundation, Middleburg Bank, The Purcellville Gazette, Jason Sengpiehl with Allstate, Maid Brigade, Bank of Clarke County, Cabinet Showplace, Fieldstone Farm Bed and Breakfast, Purcellville Copy, Purcellville Rotary Club, Wholesale Screening Solutions, Browning Equipment, It’s a Piece of Cake Catering, Hudimac and Company, The Jimmerson Family, The Robic Family and Zicht and Associates
Another major announcement at the Hail to the Trail was The Dominion Foundation presentation of a grant check for $10,000 for a project designed to “Enhance Environmental Stewardship and Access to Nature” at the Chapman DeMary Nature Trail. Tim Sargeant with Dominion, presented the certificate to Amie Ware, Teach Green Program Director with The Nature Generation.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser of Purcellville was joined by children who planted three red bud trees near the new bridge. He then read a Proclamation for 2016 Arbor Day. Jim McGlone with the Department of Forestry talked about the value of trees and congratulated the Town for keeping its Tree City USA designation for the 9th year.
The Chapman DeMary Trail is part of a sustainable education partnership among The Nature Generation, Loudoun Valley High School, the Piedmont Environmental Council, and the Town of Purcellville. The Nature Generation is a nonprofit that manages and implements projects at the trail to provide environmental education and hands-on opportunities for students, scouts, and residents. The organization relies on the support of individuals and businesses in our community to bring these programs and opportunities at the trail.
Gina Faber is 2016 McGranaghan Stewardship Award Recipient
We established the McGranaghan Stewardship award to recognize volunteers who help care for and enhance the habitat, educate the next generation about the habitat, and encourage youth to be good stewards. This year, the award was presented to Gina Faber.
Mrs. Faber was given the award for her dedication and enthusiasm in volunteering at the Chapman DeMary Trail. Over the past year, she has helped students, youth groups, scouts, and other volunteers who have come to the trail for field trips and trail enhancements. During events at the trail, she has led nature hikes and shown kids what to look for at the trail, how to identify plants, and how to plant plants so they will thrive. She has also dedicated hours to help with projects that include enhancing the pollinator plot and working with students on a project to reduce the negative impact of invasive plants in the habitat. Her passion for plants and caring for habitats come through in all the ways she helps at the trail and teaches the next generation.
Mrs. Faber learned how much she enjoyed sharing her love of nature with children during her time as a preschool assistant teacher at the Loudoun Valley Community Center in Purcellville with “Mr. Garth” Adams, who was a role model for her. When she became a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in 2011, she built on that enthusiasm by revitalizing and co-chairing the Children’s Education Team for several years. She is also an active member in Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance (LESA) and the Green Team of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun (UUCL).
She is a talented musician who has played all over the county as a classical and tradition music performer on percussion, mandolin and guitar. She owns her own edible landscaping company and has recently started a gluten-free baking business, Gina’s Pies.
Mrs. Faber grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, graduating from University of Virginia with degrees in Math and Math Education. She has lived in Loudoun County since 1988. She currently lives is Round Hill with husband Joe and daughter Julia who attends JMU. Her hobbies include music, nature, gardening, meditation, cooking, knitting, environmental activism and reading.
The McGranaghan Stewardship Award is named after Loudoun Valley High School Environmental Explorations teacher Liam McGranaghan. He demonstrates what it means to be a good steward of the environment with his students and with the community through his work at the Chapman DeMary Trail and other areas. He and his students were instrumental in establishing the nature trail and serve as stewards of the area.