Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center

Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center 5750 Sanger Ave. Alexandria, VA 22311. Visit Alexandria’s very own Nature Center! *Free Admission*

Page updated on Jan 7, 2021 at 4:15 PM

The Nature Center is open, according to Phase Three Guidance from the Governor's Virginia Forward Plan, as well as guidelines set forth by the City of Alexandria. These guidelines include limiting our total visitor capacity, conducting temperature checks at the door, and requiring face masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance while inside the Center.

All interactive exhibits and play spaces will remain closed and there will be no animal interactions outside of registered programs at this time.


Visit Alexandria's very own Nature Center! At the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center, you can see live animals up close and learn about the cultural and natural history of the neighboring Dora Kelley Nature Park. We offer year-round programs and interactive exhibits for children and adults of all ages. Come explore and enjoy Alexandria’s wild side with us!

Hours of Operation: 

Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

5750 Sanger Ave. | Alexandria, VA | 703.746.5559

Nature Programs

To view and register for Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center's classes and activities online, use WebTrac and select our center in the Locations drop down menu (Buddie Ford Nature Center), and All in the Type drop down menu. For additional information, contact us at 703.746.5559.

Winter 2021 Programs

  Groundhog's Day (in-person)   Saturday: January 23    Open
  Tracks & Traces (in-person)   Saturday: February 6    Open

*Virtual program registration closes 1 week prior to the start of the program.

To see program descriptions and to register, click here.

Weekdays at the Nature Center

**Currently on Hold**

Enhance your weekday visit to the Nature Center. All mini-interactives start at 11 a.m. and are free and open to the public

Storytime – Join us for a short story in our library.

Animal Brunch – Watch our turtles, frogs, or newts dine on their favorite foods.

Animal Meet & Greet – Get to know an animal that lives at the Nature Center.  

Nature-Themed Birthday Parties

**Currently on Hold**


The Nature Center offers birthday parties for children ages 4 to 12. Each birthday party includes two-hour use of the party room, a Naturalist-led hike and a visit from some of your favorite live animals. Families will be given an additional 30-minutes each for set-up and clean-up. Base fee covers up to 14 children. $10 for each additional child (up to 20 children total).


  • City of Alexandria residents: $225 (additional $40 fee for nonresidents)


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Nature Center is not offering birthday parties or taking any reservations at this time. Please check back for updates.

School Field Trips  

Nature Center- ProgramTeachers are encouraged to set up a field trip to the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center this school year, or let one of our Naturalist staff come to your school for an outreach program! Interpretive programs are designed to assist teachers in meeting Virginia's SOL requirements.

Some of our program topics include:

-  Life Cycles
-  Animal Adaptations
-  Animal Classifications
-  Hibernation

For more information or to request a program, please email Tarryn Lee. Please provide at least 4 weeks advance notice when scheduling programs.

Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts

Nature Scouts

Bring your troop to earn a badge, patch, bead, challenge, or "try-it" at the nature center. We will provide the learning activities, program materials, and set a time to suit your troop's schedule (you provide the badge, patch, etc.)  

Are you working on an individual badge or award? Contact us to create a project tailored to your requirements.

 $50 per troop for up to 15 children ($5 for each additional child).

Dora Kelley Nature Park

Just outside the Nature Center lies Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland. A paved bike trail connecting Sanger Ave. and Van Dorn St. winds through the park which is ADA accessible. 

Seasonal tours of the park are offered periodically by the City's Natural Resource Manager, Rod Simmons. Stay tuned for upcoming dates. These tours are free of charge. 

Stop by the Nature Center for more information or a map.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Nature Center Volunteers

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available through the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center for ages 16 and above. Positions include naturalist aide, trails and grounds maintenance volunteer, and visitor experience volunteer. Volunteer opportunities for groups can be arranged by contacting Tarryn Lee.

Visit for a complete list of available volunteer opportunities, position descriptions, and to submit an application. 

Contact Information

Colleen Litzenberger, Manager

Majd “MJ” Jarrar, Program Coordinator

Tarryn Lee, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator