Explore Community Organizations Engaged in Environmental Action
From promoting awareness on native plants to expanding low-income access to solar, to managing natural sites for visitor access, local groups are active in dozens of nature-oriented and climate-friendly projects. Getting involved in area non-profit work is a great way to practice direct action while getting to know the Rockbridge County community. Sign on to a mailing list, attend an event, volunteer, maybe even join a board! You'll be surprised by how many interesting things you learn and wonderful people you meet.
Rockbridge Conservation "Promoting the wise stewardship and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources for present and future generations. Rockbridge Conservation sponsors committees on Watershed, Land Conservation, Trails and Land Management, Energy and Climate and Waste Prevention. All board and committee meetings are open to the public. Rockbridge Conservation offers a free monthly seminar serious on zoom, often connecting local issues with broad environmental topics, and publishes a monthly calendar of area events of environmental interest.
Boxerwood Education Association The Boxerwood mission is "to educate and inspire people of all ages to be environmentally responsible stewards for the Earth." In addition to managing a 15 acre woodland garden and nature center, Boxerwood delivers award-winning environmental education programs to the community, including to the entire local public school system. The nature center and woodland garden, located within a 8 minute drive from the W&L campus, is beautiful place to visit and is open to wanderers from dawn to dusk every day. Boxerwood can also be reached from campus on foot, with much of the route along the Woods Creek Trail.
Brushy Hills Preserve This 560-acre preserve just outside of Lexington offers great walking and hiking, with periodic programming, often focused on tree and wildflower identification. Volunteers help with maintenance of the trails, among other projects. The preserve is the site of a recent major invasive plant removal project.
Friends of the Chessie Trail The Chessie Nature Trail runs a total of seven miles along the Maury River from the city of Buena Vista to Lexington. Periodic events and volunteer opportunities are listed on the Friends of the Chessie Trail facebook page.
Natural Bridge State Park The park offers access to the famed "natural bridge" as well as 7 miles of hiking trails, Lace Falls and a Monacan Indian Village. Regular programming includes self guided Dark Sky Nights.The park is on route 11, a roughly a 20 minute drive from the W&L campus.
Virginia Conservation Network This statewide organization "began as a roundtable for major conservation groups and has grown to include over 150 Network Partners across the Commonwealth. VCN is committed to building a powerful, diverse, and highly coordinated conservation movement focused on protecting our Commonwealth's natural resources." While VCN is not a conduit to Lexington-based meetings and events, reviewing the website is a great way to get an overview of environmental issues facing the state and the huge number of community partners working on different aspects of conservation throughout Virginia's diverse regions. VCN has a major focus on legislative advocacy and may be of particular interest to students interested in policy and looking for a window into VA politics.
Valley Conservation Council The VCC is a land trust that has "helped to protect tens of thousands of acres of farmland, forests and wetlands, open spaces and historic properties" by working "directly with farmers and other landowners who want to voluntarily protect their land through conservation easements and agricultural and forest districts." While volunteer opportunities are limited, the newsletter offers an interesting perspective on land conservation work and the specific issues and interests in our area. VCC offers a student membership category.
Rockbridge Area Master Gardeners Association The Master Gardeners provide "educational outreach on scientific horticultural topics to the citizens of the Rockbridge area through gardening hot lines, clinics, education in the public schools, gardening programs and maintaining demonstration gardens."
Virginia Native Plant Society The VNPS "seek to further the appreciation and conservation of the priceless heritage" of native plants. Rockbridge County is served by the Upper James Chapter, which offers programming including self guided plant tours of Brushy Hills and the Chessie Trail.