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Rust Nature Sanctuary   Leesburg, Virginia

Rust Sanctuary is a partnership between the Audubon Naturalist Society and NOVA Parks



RUST Manor House hosts weddings, receptions, parties, and meetings. For information, please visit You may also email at, or call 703-669-0755.

Fresh Air Kids at Rust Nature Sanctuary

tree frog at Rust Sanctuary in LeesburgEnjoy nature at the Rust Nature Sanctuary throughout the year. Each season has something to fascinate nature lovers, from spring frog choruses to turkey tracks in the snow. And the more often you visit, the more you'll find.

Our 68 acres encompasses meadows, forests, and ponds where you'll find a variety of wildlife and plants. During a visit, you might encounter nesting songbirds from the tropics in the oak-hickory forest, a fox hunting in our meadow, or colorful dragonflies darting above the pond.  Trail Map

Come and enjoy the Rust Nature Sanctuary anytime from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, every day of the year. No admission fee required. Bring your binoculars, camera, and a picnic lunch. Take photographs, and leave with pleasant memories and plans to return again and again.

pond at Rust Nature sanctuary in Leesburg


Nature Activities & Programs

For more information: 703-669-0000 or email

Environmental Residencies
Perfect for PTO sponsors!

Bring naturalists to your school for an extended residency! GreenKids, our partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools, has developed high quality, project-based environmental residencies for your school in one of the following areas: Salad Science, Stream Science, and Becoming a Green School. Contact GreenKids Director, Diane Lill, at for more information. Minimum fee: $1200.


Fresh Air Kids – Two Locations!

Fresh Air Kids Nature Program at Rust Sanctuary in LeesburgChildren are born naturalists. The Audubon Naturalist Society builds on children's inherent curiosity about the world by using hands-on, nature-based activities to foster social, physical, and academic skill development. Our Fresh Air Kids Class is for children ages 5 and younger along with a parent or caregiver. Classes might involve crafts, songs, books and always a hike. Bring your lunch or snack. Mingle and meet other caregivers!

Rust Sanctuary, Leesburg ,VA

8 Fridays, March 18 – May 20 ,2016 (10-11:30 am)
No Class on March 25 and April 15

Cost: $100 (siblings 21 months and older $85 ,siblings under 21 months free)
To register email Susanne Ortmann at   Reservations not confirmed until payment received (checks only). Please mail checks made payable to ANS and send to Rust Sanctuary, 802 Children’s Center Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175.

Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, VA

Pick one session or both.

Time: 10-11:00 AM
Session 1
Six weeks: March 14- April 25, 2016
No class March 21
Cost: $ 65 ( Siblings 21 months and older $55)
Session 2
Four weeks: May 2- May 23, 2016
Cost: $50 (Siblings 21 months and older $40)
*siblings under 21 months free for all programs

To register please email Susanne Ortmann at  Reservations not confirmed until payment received (checks only). Please mail checks made payable to ANS to Rust Sanctuary, 802 Children’s Center Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175. Offered in partnership with NOVA Parks.


Susanne -

The phrase, "thank you," cannot satisfactorily express how grateful Sam and I are for having been a part of FAK this Spring. My typically shy 2.5 year old came out of his shell and talked non-stop about what he learned at Mrs. O's class and how excited he was to go to Rust and see more nature. You brought him out of his shell and exposed him to so much. Being outside is hugely important to my husband and I and Sam's always been out with us, but to watch him take exploring on by himself and to hear him use his new vocabulary blows Doug and I away. Case in point, a Morning Dove has built a nest in our curly willow. Sam spotted her and said, "Mommy, she's on a nest - it's her habitat!"

Enjoy your summer.

With gratitude,
Karen and Sam Kunc


Thank you for leading such a fantastic nature program! You're a wonderful teacher and my daughter talks about you often. She was always engaged and loved going every week. It enriched her vocabulary (and mine, I learned a lot!), got her asking even more questions and gave us a jumping off point for many nature hikes and explorations to come. The topics and vocabulary exceeded our expectations!

~ Courtney Dillon ( Tessa Dillon’s mom)

Spring Family Program - All Ages!

Ponds Awaken to Spring at The Rust Nature Sanctuary
*Friday , April 1( 6:00-8:00PM)
cost:$7 per person

The wintering ponds at Rust Sanctuary are awakening to the Spring Season. Enjoy close encounters with wildlife such as
salamanders , frogs, and toads. Come explore the magical sights and sounds that surround this 68 acre nature sanctuary. Our
adventure will end with a tasty treat of marshmallows around a warm campfire. Please dress for the weather, hiking boots
are highly recommended, headlamps and field equipment provided. 

Space is limited. To reserve your spot, email and mail a check made out to ANS to The Rust Nature Sanctuary, 802 Children's Center Rd. Leesburg, VA 20175

*Rain date is Saturday April 2, 2016 6:00-8:00 PM

Naturalist in the Classroom

Can’t come to Rust on a field trip? Reduce your carbon footprint and we will come to you!

ANS programs support key components of project-based learning via real world connections and are designed to meet Virginia Standards of Learning. Programs highlight human impacts, ecological systems, natural resources, investigations, and natural processes through hands-on, STEM focused classroom activities. 

Program times and presentations can be adapted for multiple age groups. We can suggest the programs most popular with each age group. Book your program for the 2015-16 school

  • PreK-5th: Wonderful Worms, Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds of a Feather, Green Cleaners

  • 3rd-5th: We All Live Downstream, Skull and Scat, Watts Up, Paper making, Enviroscape, Erosion in a Bottle.

Email Susanne Ortmann for more information and to book a school visit.

Unplug and Play Afterschool Programs

Expand your afterschool program to include Unplug and Play!
This unique afterschool program takes the fun outside as students discover their natural world through games, hikes, and eco-crafts. Each week has a different theme that may include adaptations, life cycles, plant and animal basics, habitats and erosion. Typical hours for the afterschool program are 2:45-3:45 pm. ANS naturalists are available to teach Monday-Friday, one day per week for six weeks. To run the program, we require a minimum of 8 students at a cost of $70 per student for the 6-week program. Email Ellen McDougall at  for more information and to book your school’s afterschool club.

Nature Birthday Parties

Give your child the gift of nature with a party at Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg, VA or the Broadlands Nature Center in Broadlands, VA. Parties are held weekends year-round. Many nature themes to choose from!Cost is $225 for ANS members and $260 for nonmembers, which includes a one year membership to ANS. Contact Susanne Ortmann for more information:  or 703-669-0000.

Times for Birthday Parties at Rust:



School Programs

For programs at or near our Rust Nature Sanctuary
(Leesburg, Virginia):

Fax:      703-669-1234
Mail:      Audubon Naturalist Society
School Programs
802 Children's Center Road
Leesburg, VA 20175


Fall 2015 Field Trip Programs  Bridge walk at Woodend

spring environmental science school programs

Winter 2015-2016 In-School Programs 
in-school program

Winter In-School Programs


artworkAudubon Naturalist Society's Rust Nature Sanctuary is the recipient of a collection of artwork from the family of Roger Tory Peterson. We are honored to be able to showcase the art to the community by our environmental education office and encourage you to pay a visit to our Rust Sanctuary to view this wonderful collection.



802 Children's Center Road
Leesburg, VA 20175  

From the DC Beltway, exit onto the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267). Follow the Toll Road local lanes until they become the Dulles Greenway (still Route 267). At the end of the Greenway (approximately 13 miles) take the left exit to Leesburg. This is the Leesburg Bypass. Go west on Bypass to the second exit (Route 7 - Business Leesburg). Caution: Do not take the first Leesburg exit, Route 15. Turn right at the top of the exit ramp onto Rt. 7. Turn right at the first traffic light, Catoctin Circle. Continue 1/8 mile on Catoctin Circle to Children's Center Road (on your right). Turn right and follow Children's Center Road until you reach the cul de sac at the end. The middle drive-at sign-will take you through the Sanctuary to the Manor House.

From Ashburn or Sterling and points east of Leesburg: Follow Route 7 west to Leesburg, and turn left onto Catoctin Circle at the light. Continue on Catoctin past the Post Office (on left) to the light at Rt. 15 (King Street). Continue on Catoctin through the light and across Dry Mill Road to Children's Center Road (on your left). Turn left and follow Children's Center Road until you reach the cul de sac at the end. The middle drive-at sign-will take you through the Sanctuary to the Manor House.

From points west of Leesburg, VA: Follow Route 7 east and take the first Leesburg exit (Leesburg Business). Turn right at first stoplight, Catoctin Circle, and continue 1/8 mile to Children's Center Road (on your right). Turn right and follow Children's Center Road until you reach the cul de sac at the end. The middle drive-at sign-will take you through the Sanctuary to the Manor House.



A History of Rust Nature Sanctuary Property

an informal history of rust sanctuaryThe Rust Manor House is a site rich in Virginia history and public service. It was built in 1910 by Henry Harrison, a descendant of the first European recorded as visiting Loudoun County, for his wife, Anne Lee who was a cousin of Robert E. Lee. Anne lived here until her death in 1928. Having no heirs, she left the property to the St. Emma Agricultural and Industrial Institute, a school for young black men established by an order of nuns near Richmond.

William Fitzhugh Rust, another scion of a distinguished Virginia and Loudoun County family, purchased the property from St. Emma in 1929 and substantially remolded the house, copying many architectural elements from old Rust plantation homes. William died in 1940, but his widow, Mary, lived in the manor house and operated the property as a dairy farm through World War II.

After the war she and her son sold the property to Ida K. Polen, a very successful business woman from Arlington. After Ida died, the property was put up for auction and William Fitzhugh Rust, Jr., the son of William and Mary, bought it. He also donated the land for Ida Lee Park and The Rust Library to the Town of Leesburg..

In 2000, following the wishes of their mother, Margaret Dole Rust, the children of William and Margaret donated their family home to the Audubon Naturalist Society to create the Rust Nature Sanctuary. -- Prepared by the Audubon Naturalist Society

buy online:
An Informal History of The Rust Nature Sanctuary: The Place and The People