One of the Izaak Walton League’s primary goals is to educate – members and non-members, legislators, policy-makers – about conservation and about proper stewardship of water, air, soil, woodlands, and wildlife. Our Chapter’s educational efforts and the opportunities present here are as expansive as our 624-acre Farm, which we see as a living classroom for members and guests. Here are examples of how our conservation education programs work:
Woodlands. We maintain miles of trails through hardwood forests, where those who care to can find unusual flora and geological formations.
Our Interpretive Walk in the Woods for local high school students teaches the students to become “seers” of nature, and to understand the chemistry, physics and mathematics of the woods. The Interpretive Walk in the Woods was recognized by the Izaak Walton League nationally as the most outstanding conservation program in 2019.
We have partnered with university biologists, who are using our Farm as a plant and insect study site.
The Chapter maintains an American Chestnut orchard and has raised hundreds of seedlings in furtherance of the American Chestnut Foundation’s effort to bring about a blight-resistant American Chestnut.
Water. Our ponds and streams provide members not only with opportunities to fish (many kids have caught their first fish in our fishing pond), but also to observe, to monitor and to foster the health of the water and its inhabitants.
Using training provided by the League’s Save Our Streams Program, members monitor local stream health through observation of aquatic invertebrates and water chemistry, which data is provided to a national database (the Chapter was recently awarded the League’s national Save Our Streams award).
Wildlife. Through years of hard, careful work, the Chapter has managed and nurtured its wildlife. One prominent example of this stewardship is the Chapter’s Avifauna Program, which was recently awarded the League’s National Hall of Fame Award for the cultivation and monitoring of the Farm’s bird habitat. The Program’s two decades of efforts, including its NestWatch program, have brought about healthy, growing populations of swallows, Purple Martins and Bluebirds on the Farm.
The Farm’s fields and woods are very good places to observe a wide variety of bird species. The Chapter employs best practices in managing its game animal populations, including deer and turkey.
Soil. Our acres of fields are planted and maintained using no-till methods and no insecticides; crops are selected to not only provide food for wildlife, but also to build the soil. We engage with and host farmers and scientists focused on building soil health.
Regular Conservation Speakers. Our monthly dinner meetings frequently feature speakers on conservation-related matters. We have within the last several months had the pleasure of presentations by the Director of the NOAA’s Coral Reef Research Program; a former Chief of NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology’s Assessment and Monitoring Division; the recipient of the 2019 Royce Hanson Award (for her work in agricultural education); the former Coordinator of Maryland’s Hunter Education Program; a producer of the award-winning film “The River Runs Through Us,” about the Potomac River; Climate Change Advisor to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; the Director of the Potomac Conservancy; a Director of the North American Bluebird Society; the Director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance; and the Deputy Director of Montgomery County’s Recycling Program. In addition, we annually hold a Conservation Dinner, which features a more in-depth presentation on a particular conservation-related subject.
Hunting and Fishing. The League views hunting and fishing as tools of conservation, and for those who choose to hunt, our Chapter offers a nationally-recognized beginning hunting seminar, put on by experienced hunters who teach students not only about the methods and means, but also the ethical approach to hunting. The Chapter’s big pond is carefully tended to make it a wonderful place to fish. The Chapter has hosted fly-fishing seminars and youth fishing events at its ponds.
Take a Video Tour of the Big Pond
The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter’s Conservation Farm is a wonderful place to learn about and to actively participate in conservation work. We invite you to join us.