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
Seniors in Action at Westminster Lake Ridge Retirement Community
Upon an invitation by Dr. Larry Heath, landscaping committee chair of the Westminster Lake Ridge Retirement Community, the Friends of the Occoquan gifted them with two rain barrels to complete their planned Rain and Pollinator garden project. FOTO members conducted a workshop which was well received by all who were present at their fantastic community workshop, where the barrels will be assembled and painted/decorated by residence artists.
Occoquan Recreated: A Grand Reopening!
June 23, 2018
FOTO had an opportunity to be part of Occoquan Recreated, a festival commemorating the reopening of the Occoquan Regional Park which has been home to major changes and improvements. New features include: • The River View at the Jean R. Packard Center - A premier event space for up to 300 seated guests, featuring the 1608 room, and interpretive foyer depicting John Smith's voyage on the Chesapeake Bay. • Brickmakers Cafe - A casual riverfront cafe with outdoor seating. • Riverfront Improvements - Improved waterfront plaza and boardwalk. • Large Group Pavilion - Located in the back of the park, the new pavilion will accomodate large groups and special events. • 5k Loop Trail - A perfect trail for the casual walker or for organized events.
FOTO worked alongside American Water presenting water conservation activities for festival attendees.
Boy Scout Occoquan District Event
Upon invitation, the Friends of the Occoquan introduced their multiple programs to help clean up local waterways and encourage community gardens at the Boy Scouts of America Occoquan District Program launch that was well attended.
Coles Elementary School Garden Club
Coles Elementary Garden Club
Coles Elementary School in Prince William County has transformed a schoolyard into an outdoor “green” classroom that reconnects students with the natural world that surrounds them. The environmental education efforts of Coles Elementary School have gained statewide attention, carving its place as one of 50 schools recognized in the Virginia Naturally program. The leader for this garden is kindergarten teacher Ms. Ramona Richardson and with the help of staff, students and parents the garden thrives each year with new themes and learning experiences. This year Coles Elementary received plants from the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Master Gardener (VCE) Jamie Nick and FOTO member Sonia Monson were invited to come help the Coles Garden Club get the flowers and herbs into the raised beds. Following this activity student s planted watermelon and zinnia seeds (provided by FOTO) for their home gardens. Coles Elementary is looking for volunteers to help water their school gardens during the summer. Visit their website for more details at https://coleses.pwcs.edu/
"Ending Plastic Pollution: Opportunities for the Public/Private Sectors"
April 23, 2018
FOTO members Sonia Monson and Renate Vanegas attended an interesting event at the Finland Embassy in Washington, DC. "Ending Plastic Pollution: Opportunities for the Public/Private Sectors. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our environment. In the US alone, 100 Billion plastic shopping bags are used and discarded annually and only 5% are recycled, and it takes 1,000 years to degrade them. The European Union with Finland as one of the leaders, adopted a strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy which will transform the way plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled.
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.
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