Friends of the Occoquan is a non-profit organization of local citizens who preserve and maintain the natural integrity of the Occoquan River and other Virginia and nation wide watersheds by promoting community awareness through public and private partnerships.
Vision of the Friends
To energize individuals, community and business groups to take on the challenges of keeping Virginia’s and the nations reservoirs and rivers clean, by controlling excessive sedimentation and pollution. This message will be brought to schools, civic groups and community organizations, as well as local and federal government agencies.
Coordinate watershed management efforts and programs.
Open communications and develop cooperation among intergovernmental jurisdictions regarding the rivers and watersheds.
Provide decision makers, policy makers, and citizens with accurate information.
Develop public and private partnerships focused on maintaining the natural integrity of drinking water sources.
Engage the community, including the Spanish speaking population, to become stakeholders of our rivers and streams.
Education and Coordination FOTO is working with community groups, schools, federal, state and local governments to promote watershed preservation.
FOTO continues to expand contacts with other groups to enlarge watershed stakeholders. Installation of international signs along the watersheds is one of our projects.
FOTO is proceeding to engage the Spanish speaking community to become stakeholders of our watersheds and become active in maintaining clean and safe our rivers. In addition to the bilingual signs described below, we will be installing other bilingual signs in DC, Fairfax and PrinceWilliamCounties. Also we are preparing videos, literature and some TV programs.
Washington Post Article on FOTO's Cleanup Efforts.click here
INSIDENOVA Article on FOTO's Spring 2018 Cleanup click here
FOTO’s Spring Cleanup a Contribution to Earth Day!
FOTO’s Spring Cleanup a Contribution to Earth Day!
April 21, 2018
It couldn’t have been better weather to bring out 224 faithful volunteers to aid FOTO clean up at the Bull Run, Fountainhead, and Lake Ridge Marinas and the Town of Occoquan. We are grateful and thank each and every one of the volunteers who came out in full force: Cub Scouts 108, BS Troops 1369 & 295, Woodbridge HS JROTC cadets, SEV1Tech, American Water Company, Jenna Connor Harris with her Lake Ridge Middle School student’s green club, Manassas Rotary and Optimist Clubs, Glenn Richman with his platoon boat, Duane DeBruyne with his Braddock Crew Boosters, NOVA Geocachers, Rockledge Robolies, and many families who relieved the river of 126 large bags of trash, 62 bags of recyclables, 6 tires with rims, 2 car bumpers, building material and wood, oil drum, 4 empty cans and 4 buckets, 3 long plastic pipes, several cinderblocks, 2 metal tubing, a rusted grill, paddle boat, building lumber and supplies, 3 Amazon play stations, 4 trash bins, 2 plastic chairs, 2 pocket knives, 8 syringes, one pellet gun, prescription pill bottles and fishing rods and lines. Other groups who helped out with the upper Occoquan were the PR Trails and Stream Coalition and the Soil & Water Conservation District. Occoquan supervisor Ruth Anderson stopped at the sights to thank the participants. The park managers at Bull Run, Fountain Head and Lake Ridge’s Mike Tiller and big helper Chris provided FOTO with boats and disposed of the trash collected. Tony Rigolizzo from American Water made certain that no one went thirsty by contributing a large container of ice-cold drinking water. FOTO volunteers who manned the signup stations were, Linda Murray/Bull Run, Sonia Monson & Betty Vanegas/Fountainhead, Kimm Barry and Renate Vanegas/at Lake Ridge Marina and Julie Little/Town of Occoquan. Alex Vanegas took most of the photos. Thanks to all—you helped make this a successful event. Thank you to our sponsors Dominion Energy, American Water, Fairfax Water, NOVA Parks and Clean Virginia Waterways.
Planning a Pollinator Garden at Lakeridge Middle School
April 12, 2018
Jenna Connor-Harris's gifted Green Club class at Lake Ridge Middle School is getting ready to plant their future pollinator garden with the help of the Friends of the Occoquan who will sponsor their efforts. FOTO members, Sonia Monson and Renate Vanegas introduced their programs and had a discussion on water conservation and the negative impact of litter on our waterways. This was followed up by a garden activity which consisted of planting water melon and zinnia seeds for the students to take home and nourish until they are ready for transplanting.
All Things Water
“All Things Water,” was the theme at Penn Elementary School’s Family STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) night, in Woodbridge, VA. Science teacher Loriann Pawlick and Principal Elliott Bolles, together with 250 excited students and their parents lined up to take part in activities related to water conservation, public water supply, keeping watersheds clean and other progressive systems. American Water Company, Friends of the Occoquan, Merrimac Farm Master Naturalists of Virginia, Service Authority of Prince William County and Public School’s Aquatics Center displayed and demonstrated their work related to water, from rain harvesters to how water is treated, the importance of recycling and other water conservation techniques.
FOTO sponsors an Eagle Scout garden project at Hunters Woods Elementary School in Herndon, VA.
October 15, 2017
Friends of the Occoquan sponsored an Eagle Scout community garden project at Hunters Woods Elementary School in Herndon, VA. This was added to the school’s already existing garden project. Science Teacher Rachel Negri cooperated with Boy Scout Brad Mitchell of Troop 1983 to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. The project consisted of two raised garden boxes, including all labor and materials, which will help students learn of how to plant, maintain and harvest their own vegetables. FOTO thanks Hunters Woods Elementary School’s Administration, Mrs. Negri and Troop 1983 and Brad Mitchell for allowing FOTO to continue with our water conservation program.
FOTO Builds Wheel Chair Accessible Raised Bed for Granby Elementary in Norfolk, VA
A big thank you to FOTO team member and Eagle Scout Adrian Monson for assembling this wheelchair accessible raised bed for Granby Elementary School's garden in Norfolk, VA.
FOTO Donates Rain Barrels to the Benedictine Sisters in Bristow, VA.
On Saturday, September 23, 2017 FOTO visited the St. Benedict Monastery, located in Bristow, Virginia. Two rain barrels and other supplies were donated to their gardens.
The property is a haven of gardens with winding pathways to meditative silos, a grotto, and a labyrinth. It offers a respite from the busy pace of everyday life. Visitors and staff are welcome to take self-guided walking tours of the grounds, with maps and brochures available at the Portress’ desk.
The Place of Peace Columbarium, on the grounds of Saint Benedict Monastery, provides an environment of natural beauty and spiritual living.
Renate Vanegas, Sister Pat, German Vanegas
Fall Garden Prepping for Park Place Peace Garden
On Monday, September 4, 2017 FOTO members and volunteers from the Park Place Peace Garden worked on prepping the garden for fall planting and the return of the children and staff of James Monroe Elementary School in Norfolk, VA. FOTO was able to provide the PPPG with 4 straw bales, 13 potted flowering plants and items to build Bucket Head the garden scarecrow. The garden will be using the bales to experiment with straw bale gardening. First round-flowers. As the afternoon unfolded several neighborhood children dropped by the garden to meet Bucket Head and took a garden tour with PPPG volunteer Kim Williams.
Soil is Everything
On Thursday August, 2, 2017 Park Place Peace Garden and FOTO members prepared soil samples to be sent to the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory which is a part of Virginia’s Cooperative Extension .
A routine soil test package includes analysis for soil pH, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, and B, along with fertilizer and lime recommendations for the specified crop. Soluble salts and organic matter tests are also available. Local Cooperative Extension offices in counties and cities throughout the state can provide soil sample boxes and information sheets.
Soil samples are analyzed and computer recommendations generated usually within three working days of receipt. The completed soil test reports, along with one or more soil test notes containing additional information on fertilization and liming, are either mailed or emailed directly to the client. A copy of the report is also made available to the local Cooperative Extension office.
FOTO Helps Sponsor "Food For Others" Community Garden
On July 7, 2017 FOTO met with “Food for Others”, a Fairfax non-profit organization serving a growing number of families. They provide food for 700 families and will be delivering fresh vegetables with the establishment of their new community garden which FOTO helped sponsor. FOTO will cooperate with these types of community gardens as part of our program. To date we support community gardens in Prince William County, Fairfax and the city of Norfolk.
Friends of the Occoquan would like to thank the Krieg Family from Norfolk, Virginia for opening their home and garden to us. A big thank you to Isabelle Krieg for teaching FOTO all about raising Swallowtail butterflies. So much to learn from our Eco Kids! Note from Isabelle's Mom: Isabelle was interviewed by Friends of the Occoquan for her work with Butterflies 🦋 This was such an amazing experience for Isabelle.....she has worked very hard and gained so much knowledge about Black swallowtail butterflies.How to raise and care for them🦋🦋..it's so cool for her to be able to share what she does to help Mother Earth🦋
Photo credits- Kelly Krieg
Make a Contribution or Donation:
Please send a check or money order payable to FOTO to the address below:
or pay with credit card using paypal by clicking the link below:
Friends of the Occoquan P.O. Box 1452 Woodbridge, VA 22195-1452 Tel. (703)624-7124