Education Programs

First Saturday morning birders

Bill Shaw

School Field Trips

Chidren have been coming to the Ivy Creek Natural Area for school field trips since the 1980s. Trained nature guides from ICNA interpret the natural world with thousands of young visitors each year.  A school tour consists of approximately an hour walk on one of the ICNA trails where children are encouraged to observe and ask questions about what they find.  Children can explore a diversity of habitats, learn about watersheds, look for signs of wildlife, identify trees and see life cycles in context.  Each tour ends with time to explore the natural and cultural history exhibits on display in the barn and visit the demonstration beehive. Teachers may request a specific focus for their tours to align with current classroom learning.  Training for volunteers takes place each fall and spring season.

Little Naturalists

We start our connections to the natural world of Ivy Creek at a young age with Little Naturalists.  Trained guides from ICNA explore topics such as food chains, hibernation, how trees grow and more with 3 to 5 year olds and their accompanying adults. The program starts indoors for 20-30 minutes where the children engage with the guides through reading nature centered books and doing a hands-on activity related to the learning in the book.  This is followed with a short hike on one of the ICNA trails.  Little Naturalists meet year-round, on the first and third Mondays and second and fourth Thursdays of the month.  Gatherings are held from 10:00 to 11:30 am.   Little Naturalists follow the weather cancellation policies for Albemarle County Schools.  

Historic River View Farm Barn Openings

The barn is a focal point of the Natural Area and was built by Conly Greer in the 1930s.  It is open to the public from April to November on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 pm.  Visitors are greeted by trained Barn Docents who can explain the history of River View Farm  and walk them through the various exhibits and displays found within the barn, including the demonstration beehive.  Hundreds of people come through the barn each month during its opening. The barn is also a favorite stop for children on a school field trip.

Ivy Talks

Our lecture series offers three programs in spring and three in fall. Geared toward adults, Ivy Talks focus on natural and cultural history. Subjects range from “The Genius of Birds” to “Albemarle’s Black Classrooms.” It happens on the second Sunday of the month at 2 pm in February, March, April, September, October, and November.

Junior Naturalists

Children meet in two age groups: 5 to 8 and 9 to 12. The younger group explores the fields, forests and streams of the Ivy Creek Natural Area while learning about the native plants and wildlife of our area (including snakes, spiders and bats!). The older group hikes with creek study; wildlife and habitat exploration; an introduction to primitive skills such as shelters and water / food sourcing and nature-based art and service projects. All activities will be conducted outdoors unless severe weather moves us inside for hands-on workshop activities. It meets alternate Monday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 pm in the fall and the spring. Registration is required. To register for the younger group, contact Dan Bieker at danbieker @ gmail.com or 434-971-9618. Register for the older group by contacting Deborah Andersen at dandersen64 @ gmail.com or Steve Pullinger at hyker19 @ gmail.com.

Partner Programs

The Virginia Native Plant Society, Monticello Bird Club, Blue Ridge Young Birders, and Central Virginia Beekeepers Association hold their open monthly meetings at Ivy Creek.  The Virginia Native Plant Society and Monticello Bird Club also offer regular monthly walks at the Natural Area.  The Charlottesville Astronomical Society offers monthly solar/night sky viewings.  The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, , and the Rivanna Master Naturalists hold their annual training programs in the Education Building and also offer continuing education programs and workshops that are open to the public.  Many OLLI courses, offered through the University of Virginia are also held at Ivy Creek.  For specific information about times for these events, please visit our events calendar or the webpage of the organization.

Other Public Programs

In addition to our regular offerings listed above, Ivy Creek offers seasonal programs.  Many of these are nature walks of one form or another, such as Butterfly Walks, Learning Native Trees, Songs of Frogs & Toads, The Dragonflies of Ivy Creek, Insects of the Night, Animal Tracks and more.  To see what is scheduled to be coming soon, please visit our events calendar.

Reference and Resources

We have various educational brochures and hand-outs available in our Kiosk and Education Building.  Also in the Education Building is a small lending library.  The Ivy Creek Foundation serves to connect you with partner organizations and expert volunteers to help resolve a question you might have about the natural world.  Please call our office at (434) 973-7772 or email catherine@ivycreekfoundation.org.