Monthly Archives: April 2013

Help Colvin Run Mill Win $100K!

Colvin Run Mill is competing to win $100,000 in restoration funding. Vote for the mill at

Colvin Run Mill is competing to win $100,000 in restoration funding. Vote for the mill at

The Fairfax County Park Authority is trying to win $100,000 for repairs at Colvin Run Mill. Receipt of this award would allow the Park Authority to reprogram voter-approved bond money set aside for that project.  It’s dollars we can save as good stewards of resources in Fairfax County.  

Of course, to make this happen, we need your help.  It won’t cost you anything, except a bit of time over the next two weeks.  

Colvin Run Mill is part of an online contest sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express. It’s very simple. The site that gets the most votes gets the most money. It works like American Idol or Dancing With The Stars. Participants vote online for the site of their choice.

Here’s what to do. Go to Use your email address and a password to create an account.  The Trust will send you a single email with a link asking you to confirm that you’re you.  Click on that link and you’re registered to vote.

 Colvin Run MillThen vote for Colvin Run Mill.  One time, every day through May.  That’s the important part – every day. It takes about three minutes to register.  After that, it takes about 30 seconds of your day to log in and vote. Colvin Run gets more points if you take another 30 seconds and tweet #ColvinRunMill.

We’re asking the employees and residents of Fairfax County to pitch in for a few minutes over the coming 10 days to do something for the place we call home.

Protect resources.  Use taxpayer money wisely.  Improve the quality of life.

Simple concepts. They’re in mission statements, news releases and official statements. They’re in the everyday actions of county employees. Now, through May 10, we’re asking our employees and our county residents to take one of those simple daily actions that take so little time and could have such a big impact.

Here’s a chance to do one small thing that will make one of the county’s parks a better place.

Vote for Colvin Run Mill at Thanks for your support!

The miller pours corn into the hopper to be ground.

The miller pours corn into the hopper to be ground.

Written by Dave Ochs, editor, ResOURces Newsletter

Spring Ephemerals In Bloom At Hidden Oaks

Longing to enjoy the beauty of spring but don’t have the time or energy to hike out and find the elusive native wildflower spring blossoms? Walk one hundred feet of sidewalk from our driveway to the front door and enjoy a burst of spring color from over a dozen native plants!

Blooming today are Virginia bluebells, toad trillium, squirrel’s corn, violets, golden ragwort, spring beauties and the unusual Dutchmen’s breeches. Also marvel at the redbud tree with the bright pink blossoms popping right off the limbs and the last of the tiny yellow flowers of the spicebush. Wander a short woodchip trail to see more flowers plus mayapples and ferns. 

Jacob’s Ladder will be blooming soon, so head over to the nature center to see these spring ephemerals before the shade of the trees wraps up one of nature’s glorious shows. If you have a few minutes more, head over to the pond around the other side of the nature center. Thousands of yellow-spotted salamander eggs are catching some rays and wood frogs are munching on plants in their tadpole stage. Any day now the male toads will arrive, trilling for their mates and strings of toads eggs will be added to this busy little pond.

Suzanne Holland, visitor services manager, Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Naturalists Take On Summer

Riverbend staff members Ethan Kuhnhenn, Julie Gurnee, and Michelle Brannon attended the American Camp Association's Tri-State Conference in Atlantic City, NJ.

Riverbend Park staff members Ethan Kuhnhenn, Julie Gurnee, and Michelle Brannon attended the American Camp Association’s Tri-State Conference in Atlantic City, NJ.

I was lucky enough to attend the American Camp Association’s (ACA) Tri-State Conference held in the Atlantic City Convention Center a few weeks past. Although most visitors may have been thinking about a winning hand or their latest bet, those in attendance at this conference were focused on campfire sing-alongs, sunscreen, and flip-flops. That’s right, we were thinking about summer. Summer camp, that is.  This conference was completely focused on nothing but summer camps, and the city was stuffed full of people ranging from counselors to directors, and everything in between. Everyone there had one goal: make this summer great.

Fairfax County Park Authority is no stranger to making summer great. In fact, it has a strong reputation for being one of the best providers of day camps in the D.C. area. This is no secret. The real surprise is how many different opportunities for summer activities there are between here and Maine for everything from day camp to week long cabin camping to extreme excursions in the woods. Knowing there are so many different opportunities and being a part of such a great organization really hits you as you meet people from all over the East Coast.

I attended several really great sessions, and I got to spend half my time at the conference playing games. Remember, this is conference on summer camp! I picked up not only new techniques for dealing with children, but I also learned new ways to get them to settle down and focus on activities.

My very first session was also my favorite. I attended something called “Campfire” and I was surprised when I walked in the room. Instead of a PowerPoint projector and rows of seats, I found a darkened room, a fake fire pit in the middle, and chairs spread all around in a circle. There were people in chairs, standing along the sides, and even sitting on the floor. It was clear this program was the one to attend, and people continued to flock in right up to the end of the session.

The important thing I gleaned from this session wasn’t that people like campfires (although they clearly do!), but that there is a fine balance in the ways people remember things, especially children. Children need a balance of the sentimental and the ridiculous, and that balance from the campfire can easily be transferred over to the camp dynamic. Campers enjoy both serious learning opportunities and the chance to play and relax their brains and bodies. A successful camp will have that balance of both, creating one complete experience. My goal for this summer is to find and create that perfect balance where campers and counselors are not only learning, but also enjoying their summer. Let’s bring the fun back!

Written by Michelle Brannon, naturalist, Riverbend Park