Nature Forward connects Washington area residents to nature, inspiring them to appreciate, understand, and protect their forests, wetlands, water resources, and open spaces through education, advocacy, and conservation. And that connection with nature can start early. Each year, more than 7,000 children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade visit Nature Forward's two beautiful sanctuaries, where enthusiastic naturalist teachers emphasize hands-on, interactive learning. GreenKids, a unique collaboration with the Montgomery and Loudon County Public Schools (and plans to expand through metro DC) fosters the development of school environmental resources such as gardens, nature trails, and recycling programs. Protecting and preserving natural habitats and local clean water are all part of Nature Forward’s community outreach plan. In a world of ever-higher environmental stakes, supporting Nature Forward, and the local environment makes natural sense.

Headquarters: MD-Montgomery County

Where They Operate: DC-Citywide; MD-Montgomery County; MD-Prince George's County; VA-Fairfax County; VA-Loudoun County; VA-City of Fairfax

Age Groups Served: Pre-K (3-4); Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-49); Seniors (50+); All

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Asian American; Caucasian; Latino/Hispanic

Population(s) Served: Students; ; Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members

Schools They Work In: Montgomery County Public Schools: GreenKids Partnership Schools ; Burning Tree Elementary; Captain James E. Daly Elementary School; Cedar Grove Elementary School; Gaithersburg Elementary School; Glen Haven Elementary School; Greenwood Elementary School; Highland View Elementary School; Lakewood Elementary School; Meadow Hall Elementary School; Strathmore Elementary School; Summit Hall Elementary School; Takoma Park Elementary School; Whetstone Elementary School; ; Montgomery County Public Schools: GreenKids Network of Alumni Schools; Arcola Elementary School; Ashburton Elementary School; Bethesda Elementary School; Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School; Beverly Farms Elementary School; Chevy Chase Elementary School; Clarksburg Elementary School; College Gardens Elementary School; East Silver Spring Elementary School; Forest Knolls Elementary School ; Garrett Park Elementary School ; Harmony Hills Elementary School; Jackson Road Elementary School; New Hampshire Estates Elementary School ; North Chevy Chase Elementary School; Northwood High School; Oakland Terrace Elementary School; Piney Branch Elementary School; Rock Creek Forest Elementary School; Rocky Hill Middle School; Rolling Terrace Elementary School; Rosemary Hills Elementary School; Sherwood High School; Sligo Creek Elementary School ; Somerset Elementary School ; Stonegate Elementary School ; Takoma Park Middle School; Westbrook Elementary School; Westland Middle School; Woodlin Elementary School; Loudoun County Public Schools: GreenKids Partnership Schools; Potowmack Elementary School; Waterford Elementary School; Loudoun County Public Schools: GreenKids Network of Alumni Schools; Emerick Elementary School; Hillsboro Elementary School

  • Number of people (clients, patrons, students, etc) your organization serves annually:   20,000 plus
  • Number of volunteers who work with your organization annually:   More than 500
  • Number of hours of advocacy you engage in annually:   Full time
  • Number of clients served in outdoor education programs (students/others) annually:   20,000 plus

Awards & Recognition

Spring 2011 - ANS's 40-acre Woodend Sanctuary was re-certified by the Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education as an official Green Center. The prestigious award is given to nature centers that model environmental best practices in their facility operations and that support environmental learning in area schools.

Fall 2011 - ANS Virginia Conservation Advocate, Stella Koch, was recognized with the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The award recognizes individuals whose actions embody the spirit and values of stewardship resulting in tangible environmental benefits in the County.

Fall 2011 - ANS received the Graduate School USA's Community Award in honor of our 50-year partnership conducting college level courses on local natural history and conservation.

2011- Deputy Director, Lisa Alexander, served on the the Every Student Every Year subcommittee for Maryland's graduation requirement for Environmental Literacy.

Fall 2010 - GreenKids Program Director, Diane Lill, awarded the Montgomery County Board of Education's 2010 Distinguished Service to Public Education Award. The annual award was established to honor individuals and organizations that have made exemplary contributions to education in the County.

Fall 2010 - Executive Director Neal Fitzpatrick and Conservation Director, Diane Cameron, were among 40 local environmentalists recognized by Montgomery County, MD officials for their leadership and work on stormwater runoff regulations, habitat and green space preservation, and training workshops geared to wathershed protection.

Summer 2010 - ANS Senior Naturalist, Stephanie Mason, invited to join the Maryland Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee.

Spring 2009 - Awarded the Standards of Excellence certification by the Maryland Nonprofits.

Spring 2009 - ANS Environmental Education Director, Lisa Alexander, was the recipient of the Washingtonian Magazine's annual Green Awards, honoring those who work to protect and preserve our local environment and teach the virtue of living green.


Budget (FY2023)

  • The current budget for Nature Forward is: $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

About Spur Local

Each year 150+ community advocates review applicants on the basis of governance, equity, and impact. Each featured nonprofit has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. Spur Local charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $57 million for nonprofits across the Greater Washington region.

Spur Local looks to friends like you to keep our services independent and entirely free of charge. Consider a small contribution to Spur Local to cap off your gift and help the causes you care about get the full support they deserve!

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