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Friends of Fonticello Park Awarded Virginia Outdoor Foundation Get Outdoors Grant for Native Meadow Project

The native meadow will serve as an educational hub, providing children and community members with the opportunity to learn about native plant species, their role in supporting local ecosystems, wildlife and pollinator conservation, as well as their contributions to improved soil health and cleaner waterways.

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Friends of Fonticello Park, a dedicated all volunteer non-profit organization with a mission to honor the history of the park, while creating a safe, welcoming and nourishing outdoor space for our community and neighbors, is delighted to announce that they have been chosen as the recipient of the Get Outdoors grant from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF).

The Get Outdoors grant program, established by the VOF, aims to support initiatives that promote outdoor education, conservation, and community engagement throughout the state of Virginia. This highly competitive grant program recognizes projects that encourage individuals to connect with nature, explore the outdoors, and cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation for the environment.

The Friends of Fonticello Park’s project proposal, titled “The Native Meadow Project: Creating Equitable Access to Natural Urban Educational Spaces in Fonticello Park,” was selected from a pool of exceptional applicants due to its innovative approach to creating a vibrant educational space within the park. With the generous grant of $20,000 from the VOF, the organization will undertake the transformational task of establishing a native meadow within Fonticello Park.

Virginia Outdoor Foundation Executive Director, Brett Glymph shared, “We are thrilled to support the development of the native meadow, and we especially love that kids will help with its design and construction. Spaces such as these are vital to strengthening communities, improving health, and connecting people to nature.”

The native meadow will serve as an educational hub, providing children and community members with the opportunity to learn about native plant species, their role in supporting local ecosystems, wildlife and pollinator conservation, as well as their contributions to improved soil health and cleaner waterways. The project aims to engage neighborhood schools and organizations, involving children in various aspects of the project, from plant selection and space design to land preparation, planting, and ongoing maintenance and educational programming. This project is aligned with the vision of the Friends of Fonticello Park to bring more programming in the park in order to combat and eliminate the rash of gun violence that has plagued the park in recent years, including the death of 9 year old Markiya Dickson on Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the Get Outdoors grant from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation,” said Teresa Cole, Board Chair of Friends of Fonticello Park. “This grant will allow us to create an inclusive and educational natural space within Fonticello Park, where community members, particularly children, can connect with nature, learn about our local ecosystem, and actively participate in its preservation. This also allows us to support one of our goals to return the park to a natural state through a process of rewilding that will support the local ecosystem, reduce stormwater runoff,  and contribute to the reduction of the heat island effect in our community. Most importantly, it allows us to deliver high quality, positive programming for our community to combat the gun violence that has become a part of our park’s history.”

Friends of Fonticello Park will collaborate closely with local schools, organizations, and community members to ensure the successful implementation of the native meadow project. The organization is committed to fostering equitable access to educational and recreational opportunities, promoting environmental awareness, and strengthening community bonds within the Fonticello Park area.

The Get Outdoors grant from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation signifies the dedication and hard work of Friends of Fonticello Park in their mission to positively impact the community. The organization gratefully accepts this grant and looks forward to embarking on this transformative project that will enrich the park and the lives of its visitors.

For more information about Friends of Fonticello Park and their initiatives, please visit fonticelloparkrva.com.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.