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Friends of Patuxent

Supporting Research, Wildlife Conservation, and Education at the Patuxent Research Refuge
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  • 6 Mar 2023 8:16 AM | Courtnye (Administrator)

    person stands in front of wall of photographs, talking to group of people

    Graeme Simpson giving a talk in the Hollingsworth Gallery in February.

    By Courtnye Koivisto, Friends of Patuxent Board Member

    Not too far from Patuxent Research Refuge is Buddy Attick Lake Park, a community staple in Greenbelt, Maryland and an excellent place for wildlife viewing. Many photographers frequent the lake in the hopes of capturing some of the lake’s many resident and visiting wildlife, including Osprey, Barred Owls, Great Blue Herons, snapping turtles, Wood Ducks, and Ring-necked Ducks. 

    The National Wildlife Visitor Center at Patuxent Research Refuge recently hosted an exhibit in its Hollingsworth Gallery showcasing local photographers’ images from Buddy Attick Lake Park. The photographs were extraordinary, capturing the essence of Buddy Attick Lake and its seasonal changes throughout the year. For many of the photographers, this was their first time exhibiting their art and formally sharing it with the community. Graeme Simpson, an established and renowned nature photographer, coordinated the exhibit and gave insight into what it takes to organize a photography show. While the show was on display in February, Graeme gave a talk every Saturday about how it came together.

    Graeme saw this exhibition as an essential opportunity for amateur photographers to build confidence in their work. Many of the photographers have been visiting the lake for years, but never had the opportunity to formally display their work in a gallery setting. Graeme worked with the photographers to create a cohesive show that best presented the diverse wildlife of Buddy Attick Lake while still highlighting each photographer’s unique style.

    To help make this initial exposure easy and inclusive, Graeme made sure to keep the material requirements simple and straightforward. He shared that frames could be low-cost, photos could be from point-and-shoot cameras, and that prints didn’t have to be a specific size. These low-entry barriers were also important as a way to bring community members to the show since those were easier to relate to and recognize. To this point, Graeme made sure to include species that were both familiar to viewers and ones that are more unique to the area. 

    Once the photographs were ready and the gallery reserved, Graeme worked on publicizing the exhibition and building rapport with local newspapers and journalists. The Greenbelt News Review was indispensable for promoting this exhibition, especially since many of the photographers share and publish their photos in the paper. Getting the word out and sharing this exhibition made it a huge success. Overall, the exhibition’s works were captivating, and visitors relished the details and spectrum of colors these community photographers were able to express. 

    The photographers featured in the exhibition were: Kathryn Beard, Ken Briefel, Gary Brown, Gloria Brown, Rebecca Cagle, Bill Cornett, David Crissinger, Suzanne Flynn, Michael Garcia, Kevin Higgins, Charles Chuck James, Mike Kilberg, Mick Morgan, Ken Nguyen, Marc Siegel, Graeme Simpson, Bruce Smith, Tom Statas, Wade Stephen, Viad Tchompalov, Amy Wenzel, and Andrea Zukowski.

    To learn more about Graeme’s work, please visit Graeme Simpson Images.

    If you are interested in learning more about the John Hollingsworth Art Gallery at the Visitor Center, please contact Gallery Coordinator Mary Ann Hartnett at 

  • 22 Sep 2022 10:36 AM | Courtnye (Administrator)

    The Friends of Patuxent's Pollinator Festival 2022, first since COVID closures, will take place on Patuxent Research Refuge's North Tract (230 Bald Eagle Drive; Laurel) at the Education Building and vicinity, on Saturday, September 24th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Festival is free and open to the public (donations also welcome).

    Come enjoy free native-plant and milkweed-seed giveaways, science and art activities, monarch butterfly-tagging and releases, guided nature walks, and more! Learn and explore with us!

    Exhibitors and fun, educational activity stations for all ages will include: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center; the University of Maryland's Entomology Zoo; the Maryland Native Plant Society; the US Fish & Wildlife Service monarch butterfly tagging program; Master Gardeners of Anne Arundel County and Bowie Green; Laurel for Patuxent; the US Geological Survey's Bee Lab; the Rachel Carson Council, Inc.; the Maryland Natural History Association; BUMBA; and the Friends of Patuxent (FOP). The FOP Wildlife Images Bookstore & Nature Shop traveling pop-up shop will also be present, as will some appropriate, invited vendors who will share a percentage of profits with the Friends. 

    As always, the mission of the Friends of Patuxent is to support the missions of the Patuxent Research Refuge and the Eastern Ecological Science Center (EESC). The profits from income received by the Friends will benefit the Refuge and the EESC.


    The Festival needs a variety of volunteers/volunteer teams on Festival Day to help with, e.g., set-up (tables, chairs, tent canopies, exhibits), take-down (including trash pick-up), directing people's parking, and helping visitors and vendors find their way around. Some volunteer assistance may also be needed the day before (Friday).

    To inquire about volunteering or ask questions, please contact one of the Pollinator Festival 2022 Committee members:

    • Karen Atwood:
    • Liz Humes (Chair):;
    • Helen Lowe Metzman:

  • 1 May 2022 1:18 PM | Courtnye (Administrator)

    Group posing with finished planters

    Happy participants in the Friends of Patuxent-led pollinator garden planting program at Watershed are ready to take their new container pollinator gardens home.

    By Rich Dolesh, Friends of Patuxent Board of Directors Chair
    Photos by Felicia Evans

    Many of the residents of Watershed, a new planned townhome community being built in Anne Arundel County on the northern boundary of Patuxent Research Refuge have expressed keen interest in activities and programs taking place at the nearby North Tract and at the refuge in general. Friends of Patuxent has had a continuing interest in engaging communities around the refuge to learn about the refuge, so it was a natural for us to seek ways we could partner with the residents of Watershed. Planting mini-pollinator gardens in landscape containers proved to be an excellent way to connect with them.

    In the spring of 2021, the Friends of Patuxent conducted a highly successful cooperative program with The Links, a national professional society of African American women, planting mini pollinator gardens in large tubs and containers at the National Wildlife Visitor Center to serve as a demonstration garden to show how homeowners and renters can plant such containerized pollinator gardens for their own patios and decks and driveways. Based on this success, the Friends saw a great opportunity to enlist the residents of Watershed in pollinator conservation by planting their own large planters with native perennial wildflowers to attract pollinators to their own patios and decks.

    Participant carrying plants   Rich Dolesh speaking to group     

    Elm Street Communities, the developers of Watershed, in cooperation with the Homeowners Association of Watershed, provided containers, planting soil, and native pollinator-friendly plants for the well-attended planting party on June 4, 2022 at Watershed’s community center. Friends board members and volunteers Rich Dolesh and Liz Humes conducted a brief program about the importance of native pollinators in our landscape and the functions they provide in our local ecosystems. They emphasized that everyone can support pollinator conservation and can plant their own pollinator gardens no matter how small they are.

    After a brief summary of the types of pollinator-friendly perennial wildflowers provided for planting, including plants planted by volunteers at the Bee Lab on Central Tract, attendees of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens, selected a variety of plants they wanted to plant in their mini-gardens and set to filling their seven-gallon containers with a base of stone for drainage and planting medium specially designed for containers.

    There was a palpable energy and sharing of knowledge and skills by the participants. As the container gardens came together, there was also a shared sense of pride among the attendees as they compared their gardens to those of others. The Friends of Patuxent thanks Elm Street Communities for their generous donations of containers, soil, and perennial wildflowers. The program was a huge success and proved to be a great way for the Friends of Patuxent to engage a nearby community whose residents know very little about the Refuge. These residents of Watershed who participated are now plugged in to learning more about the resources of the Refuge and the research that takes place there, resources that they can now enjoy with their families and friends. Best of all, they now have a personal stake in pollinator conservation and by observing pollinators visiting their own pollinator gardens, will appreciate them even more on a daily basis.

    Want to learn more about pollinators and how to plant your own pollinator container garden? Come to the Friends of Patuxent Annual Pollinator Festival that returns to North Tract at Patuxent Research Refuge on September 24, 2022.

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Laurel, Maryland 20708-4011

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