School Programs - Frequently Asked Questions
The Audubon Naturalist Society is the oldest independent environmental organization in the Washington, DC region. ANS is a pioneer in environmental education.
Our Mission and Vision.
Our educational programs encourage students in public schools, private schools, homeschool groups and scouts to learn by interacting with nature. Our programs foster natural curiosity, enrich classroom experiences and help youngsters connect with their environment.
The Rust Sanctuary is located 15 miles from Sterling, VA at 802 Children's Center Road Leesburg, VA 20175 703-669-0000. We are right of off Route 7.
The Woodend Sanctuary is located just north of Washington, DC inside the 495 beltway near Connecticut Ave. at 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815.
We are 38 minutes from Fairfax, 40 minutes from Frederick and approximately 20 minutes from Ashburn.
- About how long does it take to get to the Woodend Sanctuary from Capitol Hill/Germantown/College Park?
Depending on traffic and the time of day, it can take anywhere from 25 minutes to one hour to reach us from these locations. Please consider rush hour traffic and other delays when booking your program so you have plenty of travel time.
Download and complete our registration form.
Please complete one form for each program. Indicate four preferences for day, date and possible start and end times.
For programs at or near our Woodend Nature Sanctuary (Chevy Chase, Maryland):
For programs at or near our Rust Nature Sanctuary (Leesburg, Virginia):
1½ Hour Program: $6.50 per student
1 Hour Assembly: $4.00 per student. $150 minimum.
Yes, all Naturalist in Your Classroom programs have an additional $50 per day travel fee for schools up to 30 miles away from Rust or Woodend.
- What hours and days of the week can I bring my class for a field trip or have you visit us with one of your Naturalist in the Classroom programs?
All programs are offered Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
We offer programs for children in preschool through grade 5. If you see a program in our catalog offered for a different age group other than your own that you are interested in, please contact us and we will discuss the possibility of adapting it to your grade level, including middle and high school.
Most programs can accommodate up to 50 students. If you have more than 50 students, please call us and we will try to work out a schedule that works for us all.
Yes, if more than 50% of your school's children are in the free or reduced lunch program (FARMS), we may be able to reduce your program fee with a scholarship. Please contact us to receive a scholarship application.
The trails at both sanctuaries are unpaved, mulched trails. Rust has one paved trail down to the pond. There are several hills and natural stairs throughout the property, along with wooden slats to aid in preventing soil erosion. Students with walkers and wheelchairs have made it through, with the aid of teachers and other students providing aid along the way.
Please let us know at the time of registration if you have a student needing special accommodations, so we can plan to take trails with gentler changes in terrain ahead of time.
At the Woodend Sanctuary, please follow the driveway from the main entrance all the way to the back exit. Along the exit driveway, there is a gravel parking area to the right with signs stating, "School Programs Parking 9 am – 4 pm". School buses should park here.
When leaving, buses may exit through the back gate, turn left onto Brierly Rd., turn right onto Jones Bridge Rd. and then follow that back to Connecticut. Ave.
At Rust, follow the long driveway past the entrance pillars to the top of the hill. Make your first left into the bus parking lot.
At the Woodend Sanctuary, there is ample parking on both the north and west sides of the mansion. Please leave the gravel parking area open for buses.
At the Rust Sanctuary, parents may drive up our driveway and at the top of the hill go around the circle to the lot by the picnic tables.
At the Woodend Sanctuary, the naturalist(s) will be waiting for you near the bus parking area. If they are not there yet, please unload and have the students and teachers meet them in the grassy field directly across from the bus parking area.
At the Rust Sanctuary, the naturalist(s) will be waiting by the picnic tables at the top of the hill.
Please contact the School Programs Coordinator at 8:30 a.m. the morning of your program and we will discuss potential alternatives.
It all depends on the circumstances, such as how much time is left in the program, how long the storm is supposed to last, the schedule of our naturalists, etc. We may go inside one of the main buildings and wait the storm out with some indoor activities or we might try to reschedule the program for another day. We try to be as flexible as we can and we ask that you do the same.
- What can my students do if we are early & waiting for our program to start or we have some down time in between programs?
When visiting either of our sanctuaries, you are welcome to bring recreational equipment to play with in the fields around the picnic areas. You may also want to print copies of any of our optional scavenger hunts. We do ask that you try and stay off the main trails during this time, so the students will have fresh eyes for them during the program.
At the Woodend Sanctuary, a single bathroom can be found just inside the main entrance to the mansion and then immediately to the left. Another single bathroom can be found on the opposite side of the building, under the portico and on the right.
At Rust, the bathrooms are located by the left entrance of the manor as you are looking from the parking lot.
- Where do we eat snack/lunch if our students are having a picnic? Do you have any lunchtime policies?
Both sanctuaries follow Leave No Trace principles. Please bring plenty of trash bags with you to collect and dispose of any waste you create. These must be brought back with you to school and disposed of at your school dumpster.
We recommend asking students ahead of time to bring waste free lunches which include: reusable bottles,, containers, and lunch boxes instead of plastic and paper bags and one-use water bottles or juice boxes to help cut down on the amount of waste you must bring back to school with you.
At both sanctuaries there are at least 5 picnic tables. The picnic tables at Rust are located right by the parking lot. At Woodend the picnic tables are located on the south lawn. You are also welcome to bring blankets and eat on the grass.
Trail map for the Rust Sanctuary.
Trail map for the Woodend Sanctuary.
Yes, as we try to keep our forest and meadow habitats as natural as possible, we do have some poison ivy. Please stay on the marked trails when hiking and you will most likely avoid it.
Yes, both sanctuaries have large white tailed deer populations. Wearing long pants and long sleeves as well as checking your body for ticks when you get home are great precautions to follow.
The Woodend Sanctuary Shop is open Monday - Friday from 10am – 5 pm, Saturday 9 am – 5 pm and Sunday 12 – 5 pm.
Teacher Discounts: Don't forget to show the shop your teacher ID to receive a 20% discount on classroom learning materials!
The grounds at both the Rust and Woodend Sanctuaries are free to visit and are open dawn to dusk, seven days a week.