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

Enjoy 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.

Nature Programs

Rust Watershed Adventures

For more information on how to apply for Rust Watershed Adventures 2016-17
Susanne Ortmann 703-669-0000 

Rust Watershed Adventures (RWA) is a partnership project of LCPS Science Office and the Audubon Naturalist Society. RWA is a free, grant-based program offered for either 3rd or 5th grade. This program will continue as long as funding is available.

Note: Alumni schools are encouraged to apply so grade levels who did not participate in previous years are served.

This program and has 3 Phases.

Phase 1

FREE training for 2 teachers at the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg focused on watershed education.  Dates are October  26th  for grade 3 and October 27th  for grade 5.  Substitute time will be provided by LCPS Science Office.  Teachers who complete the training will be awarded professional development/continuing education credits by LCPS.

phase1 stream study

Phase 2

FREE Watershed field trip to the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Spring 2017 for the entire grade level – all classes AND $500 towards transportation fees. 


RWA rosa lee carter

Phase 3

FREE visit to your school following Rust field trip to provide teacher training on how to assess on site watershed features.  We will also offer recommendations for possible Project Based Learning opportunities. 

 erosion in a bottle - lesson grade 3

Highlights of the Rust Watershed Adventure include:

  • Authentic learning opportunities
  • Hands-on STEM activities
  • 3rd & 5th grade science SOLs
  • Project Based Learning  and One to the World opportunities
  • Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences
  • Civic Component-Stewardship activities at Rust to positively impact the watershed

To ensure the best RWA experience possible, schools must commit to the three phases of this program.   Rust Watershed Adventures (RWA) is a partnership project of LCPS Science Office and the Audubon Naturalist Society.

The following schools have already completed the RWA program, so please feel free to reach out to any contacts you may have to gain their perspective on the program:

Cedar Lane
Cardinal Ridge
kenneth W. Culbert
Balls Bluff
Little River
Rolling Ridge
Mill Run
Mountain View
Seldens landing
Rosa Lee Carter
Frederick Douglass

Sycolin Creek

Reviews and Pictures

Phase 1:

enviroscape watershed lesson RWA tracher training grade 3

The RWA  phase 1 training was very helpful to me because I never truly understood what a watershed was and specifically how to link it to the 3rd grade curriculum. It was great to see the different ways to incorporate it into our lessons and where it fits. It was also very helpful to experience the activities that the kids will be doing on the field trip so that we can prep for them. A lot of times, I have no idea what will happen on a field trip and being able to experience it first without the kids is very very helpful!

We also loved the materials that were provided, especially the maps of our school! It helps to see that there is water around us, even when we don't see it since we are in the middle of the town of Leesburg. Thank you again for a fantastic training!      Erica Allder-3rd Grade Teacher-Frederick Douglass Elementary School

watershed in a panAn email to the LCPS science dept:

Hello Odette and Pat,

I wanted to send you a note to thank you for selecting Ball's Bluff Elementary as one of the schools to participate in the Rust Watershed Adventure program.  I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful day Kara Grichtmeier, another 5th grade teacher, and I had at the Rust Center!

Susanne Ortmann and Christine packed a day to the brim with hands-on activities that we could bring back to our classroom and use with our students.  This included the STEM approach to each lesson and how we could integrate all of the core subjects into each activity.  The sheer enthusiasm of the participating teachers made it easy to see how positively our students will react to these lessons.  Subjects like weathering, erosion, and living systems came to life with the tools they gave us to bring these concepts back to our classroom.  The round table discussions over lunch and as we walked to the pond gave everyone the chance to share ideas that have proven successful in our own classrooms.  

In these times when budget cuts force everyone to look hard at each program and closely scrutinize the value of the money spent,  this is an excellent investment into bringing STEM lessons to our students. Thanks again for giving Ball's Bluff the opportunity to participate!- Ann Tydings- grade 5 Balls Bluff ES

Phase 2:

THANK YOU for an incredible learning experience. Our students were excited, engaged and eager to test out our school pond. I appreciate the positive vibe all of your naturalists exhibited throughout the gloomy, raining morning.        Catherine Votroubeck- Rosa Lee Carter ES commented on her phase 2 field trip to Rust

The students loved the project based lessons. Lessons were well planned, included plenty of active engagement, and helped students recognize their role in supporting the environment. The Rust staff modeled best practices for teachers and gave them ideas and resources to use with future lessons. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students. Thank you!    Jennifer M Scott- Principal  at Sterling ES

RWA rosa lee


Phase 3:

Phase 3 was awesome. It really helped to see where the watershed is being affected by us in our immediate area. It helps to know this information so that the kids can really see how they are impacting their environment and how even things as small as the sediment in the road can harm the watershed. -Erica Allder -3rd Grade Teacher, Frederick Douglass Elementary School

 phase rwa 

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
Fridays (10-11:30 am)
Fall - September 30-December 2, 2016  No class on 10/28 and 11/25
Winter - January 13-March 3, 2017
Spring - March 17-May 19, 2017  No class on 4/7 and 4/14
Cost: $100 (siblings 21 months and older $85, siblings under 21 months free)
Sign up for all three sessions and receive $50 off!

Reservations not confirmed until payment received (checks only). Please mail checks made payable to ANS and send to The Audubon Naturalist Society's Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase ,MD 20815. Please address the envelope to ANS Accounting Office. Please also write "Fresh Air Kids RUST" on the memo line.
Register Online

Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, VA
Mondays (10-11 am)
IMG 1839Fall - September 26-November 14, 2016   No class October 10 and Nov 7
Early Spring - March 13-April 24, 2017   No class on April 10
Late Spring: May 1-June 12, 2017   No class on May 29
Cost: $65 (siblings 21 months and older $40, siblings under 21 months free)
Sign up for all three sessions and receive $30 off!

Reservations not confirmed until payment received (checks only). Please mail checks made payable to ANS and send to The Audubon Naturalist Society's Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Please address the envelope to ANS Accounting Office. Please also write "Fresh Air Kids Algonkian" on the memo line.   Register Online 


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)


Naturalist in the Classroom

classroomCan’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 2016-17 school year! view the brochure

  • 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, onsite Water Quality Monitoring

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:




I can't speak highly enough about the wonderful experience we had hosting our daughter's 3rd birthday party at Rust Nature Sanctuary. It was so exciting to see all the kids (and adults) get equally if not more excited about engaging in STEM activities rather than your typical birthday party activities -- it is a testament to Ms. O's abilities to engage with the kids and make learning about the outdoors so much fun. And of course, what better place to have such a party than Rust -- with all the different ecosystems (pond, woods, meadows, vernal pool, etc.) all in one place, it was such a beautiful backdrop for hosting such a special event. It was also really nice to have the option of the room upstairs in the manor house, as it was slightly chilly that morning and everybody was happy to go back to the room for food/drinks after having a great time at the pond. Ms. O was very attentive to our and our daughters interests/preferences -- we are very thankful we had her help in throwing a "green" birthday party where we learned, had fun, and felt good about what we were doing!

~ Quote from Vineet and Pooja Aggarwal regarding their daughter’s birthday party

Field Trips

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


2016 Field Trip Programs  

Bridge walk at Woodend


in-school program



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. 

Audubon 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


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