Nature Volunteers Overview

Nature Volunteers

Removing Invasive Plants

Reston’s Habitat Heroes have worked for years removing invasive exotic plants that have taken over the native vegetation in our natural areas. Some of the plants we have focused on removing are Oriental Bittersweet, Chinese Wisteria, Japanese honeysuckle, Bush honeysuckle, Bamboo, and Garlic Mustard

Invasive plants reproduce rapidly, spread over large areas of the landscape and have few, if any, natural controls to keep them in check. These plants often produce large numbers of seeds, spread aggressively by runners or rhizomes and often disperse seeds away from the parent plant through various means such as wind, water, wildlife and people. Sometimes they spread from neighbors yards and seriously threaten local ecosystems, taking away vital food and habitat from our native wildlife populations. 

Our dedicated and hard-working volunteers often do more than remove plants. They also replant many natural areas with attractive and important native ferns, wildflowers, shrubs or trees. Not only are the volunteers removing plants but also adding beauty and food for our songbirds and other wildlife with native plants. So this name change reflects the true nature of the work that is being done in our community. Our Habitat Heroes will continue to work on restoration projects on our natural areas. 

For more information or to volunteer, contact Ha Brock, Volunteer Reston Manager, at habrock@reston.org or 703-435-7986.

Habitat Heroes Program

Reston Association needs volunteers like you to help rescue Reston’s beautiful parkland from aggressive plants. Please join us and spend a couple of hours in our parkland protecting our natural areas. We meet the fourth Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.-noon during the months of March-November, except August.

You don’t need to be an expert to assist in protecting our forests and help us restore Reston’s forests to their natural state. RA's volunteering opportunities each month provide you with all the training you need. Habitat Heroes do a lot of invasive removal year-round. In the fall, we also focus some of our efforts on replanting of shrubs and trees, as it is the best time of year to plant for maximum survivability and site success.

For all projects: Please wear long sleeves and long pants to protect against biting insects, thorns, and poison ivy. There is poison ivy at all sites. Bring gardening gloves if you have them. RA will provide some tools, gloves, snacks and water.

All projects: 10 a.m.-noon (unless otherwise noted).

Invasive plants:

  • Out-compete beneficial native plants
  • Replace native food and habitat that birds and other wildlife depend upon
  • Eliminate host plants for native insects such as butterflies
  • Disrupt plant-pollinator relationships, which allow native plants to reproduce
  • And do all of this at an aggressive speed

Want to get involved?

  • You can help stop the spread of invasive plants by signing up to become a Habitat Heroes. Training takes place on the fourth Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.-noon from March to November, except in August.
  • Be careful. If in doubt, don’t pull it out. If you’re not sure what something is, leave it be. It may be an important part of the native plant community. Feel free to send us photographs of plants you are unable to identify.
  • For all projects: Please wear long sleeves and long pants to protect against biting insects, thorns, and poison ivy. There is poison ivy at all sites. Bring gardening gloves if you have them. RA will provide some tools, gloves, snacks and water.

Workdays 2017

Habitat Heroes volunteers can sign up for events at: http://bit.ly/2017HabitatHeroes


Stream Monitoring

Reston streams are monitored all year, including winter. RA welcomes new volunteers to assist with stream monitoring at several locations throughout Reston. Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s streams. Not only do you get to learn about Reston’s streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends.

If you are interested in assisting with stream monitoring for more than one or two sessions, training and practice opportunities are offered by joining seasoned volunteers and RA staff. You can earn a stream monitoring certificate after successfully demonstrating your ability to identify macro-invertebrates. Each monitoring session consists of 2-3 hours. Any interest and commitment level is appreciated.

Click here to sign up for 2017 stream monitoring events. For more information, contact Ha Brock at 703-435-7986 or email habrock@reston.org.


Special Annual Events

There are several special environmental events that require the assistance of Reston volunteers each year. For more information, contact Ha Brock at 703-435-7986 or email habrock@reston.org.


Storm Drain Marking Project

What can you do to protect our local streams, lakes and the Chesapeake Bay?

One way is to participate in the Storm Drain Marking Project. Our storm drains prevent flooding of roads and neighborhoods by carrying rain and snowmelt away from streets and sidewalks. Unlike water from our taps and tub, water flowing into our storm drains is not treated. Storm drains connect directly to our streams and empty into our lakes. Trash, pet waste, motor oil, paint and other materials dumped or washed into storm drains pollute our watersheds and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Markers on each storm drain remind all of us to keep storm drains and our streams clean.

Contact Nicki Bellezza, Reston Association’s Watershed Supervisor, to get involved in the Storm Drain Marking Project. Since there are over 4,000 storm drains in Reston, many volunteers are needed to mark the storm drains and to help educate the community about the connection between the storm drains and our streams and lakes. Call 703-435-6560 to participate or visit the Storm Drain Marking website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/stormdrained.htm.

The Storm Drain Marking Project in Reston is sponsored by the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, the Virginia Department of Transportation-Northern Virginia District and Reston Association.


Scout Projects

Are you a Boy Scout looking for a Life or Eagle service project or a Girl Scout looking for a Silver or Gold Service Project? If so, we have some ideas for you and would welcome the opportunity to assist scouts in the completion of projects benefiting the Reston community.

To discuss project ideas, you will need to be an approved volunteer with Reston Association.

Scout troops, school groups and other organized youth groups or clubs can also participate in the Habitat Heroes program.

For more information on scout projects, contact Ha Brock at 703-435-7986 or e-mail habrock@reston.org.


Nature Center Volunteers

Nature Center Special Events Assistant
Volunteers will help with hands-on nature crafts, games and a variety of other duties. Events will include the 5K Benefit, Earth Day Festival and Halloween festivities. Special events are one time commitments. Training is on-site the day of the event. For more information contact Ha Brock at 703-435-7986.


Reston Adopt-a-Spot Program

Encourage citizen participation in litter cleanups in designated areas of the community at regular intervals. In exchanged, volunteers are given materials to help them with the cleanups. When applicable, a sign will be posted with the participant’s name in the adopted area. Adoptable locations include parks, parking lots, pathways, streams, wooded areas, ballfields, public groups, and other littered areas.


Bird Box Monitors

Monitor bird boxes in our community conducting long term research on the health of our native blue birds and providing a safe haven for them from invasive non-native species.