Whole Foods Market Holds “5% DAY” in Support of Robinson Nature Center


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The James and Anne Robinson Foundation proudly announced its selection as the beneficiary of Whole Foods Market Columbia’s “5% DAY” on May 15, 2015.

Whole Foods Market Columbia holds a “5% DAY” each quarter, donating 5% of a day’s total sales to a local charitable organization. The James and Anne Robinson Foundation is a non-profit foundation in Columbia whose primary mission is to support the Robinson Nature Center.

Members of the Friends of the Robinson Nature Center are familiar with supporting the Center through their donations of  time and treasure.

Whole Foods Market views its “5% DAYS” as an opportunity to not only give back to the community financially, but to also partner with a local organization in a meaningful way. “We feel happy and proud to be partnering with the Robinson Foundation that offers an outstanding experience for members of our Columbia community,” said Svetlana Bautista, the store’s Team Leader.

The James and Anne Robinson Foundation encourages  all members of the community — especially members of the Center and members of the Friends of the Robinson Nature Center — to support the Center by shopping at Whole Foods Market on May 15.  The James and Anne Robinson Foundation retains fiduciary responsibility for dollars donated to the Foundation’s 501(c)(3) trust. Corporate donations from “5% DAY” will become part of the Foundation’s designated funds targeted to support the Robinson Nature Center.


Annie’s Birthday Is Center’s Biggest Weekend Ever!

IMAG1166 (2)During March 14-15, the James & Anne Robinson Foundation sponsored a weekend long celebration of Anne Robinson’s 100th birthday. Approximately 1300 guests  – oh my! – attended the family-focused affair held at the Robinson Nature Center.  It was the biggest attendance weekend ever for the Center.

Guests selected free books to take home in honor of Anne Robinson’s lifelong love of reading.  In addition to enjoying free admission for the weekend and cupcakes, the children were enchanted by old-fashioned bird whistles and seed balls that they took home in their goody bags.

But it was more than the give-aways that intrigued the families during their visit. As Friends’ members know, the Robinson Nature Center is an exquisite facility surrounded by wooded pathways that meander down to the Middle Patuxent River. The LEED platinum certified building blends perfectly into the 18 acres of woods and meadows that surround it and the land backs up to the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. From the forest floor exhibit to the children’s Discovery Room to the exhibition bee hive and the digital planetarium, the Center has something for everyone.

Most visitors stayed in the building last Saturday because of the rain but hardy souls on Sunday ventured onto the walking paths to enjoy nature itself. Wandering along the pathways, one can visit Annie’s Garden, her old homestead site (which is now a teaching pavilion), the Simpsonville Mill ruins and even follow the Mill Race as it winds its way to the bend in the river.

The second part of Annie’s Centennial Celebration occurs during the week of April 1-5 when the Robinson Nature Center will feature “schools out” programs and activities during the Spring Break for Howard County schools. Weather permitting, the Spring Break activities include a tea party which will be held at the Pavilion overlooking Annie’s Garden. The tea party and all the Spring Break activities are free with an annual pass or daily admission.

We hope you plan to attend – and to bring someone who’s never been there before. They’ll be glad you did.

 pwsd – 3/27/2015

New Nature Notes for Kids

Hey, kids, want to learn about Maryland foxes? Wyosemite_4_bg_090504 (3)e’ve added a new page of Nature Notes for 2015 and this month’s animal is a gray fox! Just click on “Just for Kids” on the menu and look for Nature Notes 2015.

“Scope Out the Night Sky” – Redux – Saturday March 7 6:30-9:30pm

“Moon” photo courtesy of Ernest Douglas,  taken 2-3-15 through Galileo scope built during January 24 event

On January 24,  five or six families with young children 8 and older gathered in the auditorium of the Robinson Nature Center to build a Galileo telescope and then search the night skies.

Educational? Certainly.

Fun? You bet!

Building a telescope from a kit turns out to be a little more challenging than I expected. I was glad my 20-something son was there to help. Truth be told, he did most of it but my granddaughter and I watched and learned and put together the easier pieces. The experience gave me new respect for the dedication and perserverance it must take to actually build a telescope when you have to grind your own mirrors, etc.

We had it easy. The parts were all created for us and some very nice people from the Maryland Science Center (which co-sponsored the event through a grant to the Robinson Nature Center) were on-hand to give advice and help with the stickier bits of assembly.

Upstairs in the lobby, Dr. Joel Goodman, our very own “Stardoc”, displayed various meteorites from his collection and shared many interesting star facts while hot chocolate fortified us for a winter’s night of sky watching.

The Maryland Science Center’s personnel had brought larger telescopes so we could view the night sky and actually see the craters on the moon and count Jupiter’s moons that were now more visible to us! It also made me wonder how Galileo made the observations he did with the small telescope he created.

On Saturday, March 7, the event returns and, in my humble opinion, is well worth your time. The fee for the evening is $24 and for that each family (up to five members) gets to put together one telescope and receive a tripod. I might argue that the tripod alone is worth the price of admission. More importantly, perhaps, the event provides an extraordinary opportunity for families to explore our galaxy together and make memories for years to come.

“Scope Out the Night Sky” may just instill a love of going outdoors in the evening to identify constellations or to look for the Evening Star. In our house, the event sparked a renewed interest in star-gazing for my son who goes out with his daughter every clear night to gaze toward the heavens.

Best $24 I ever spent.


CORRECTION:  Maryland Science Center is the co-sponsor but the grant was awarded by Howard County Arts Council.

February Outdoor Events for Kids

P1000306Looking for a Winter Crisp Walk in the woods?  Want to watch the Woodcock dance?  Check out our Kids Activities section to find outdoor fun this February.

Kids! Enter our “Count the Birds” Contest this Winter Break


Visit our Just for Kids page to find out how to enter the “Count the Birds” contest during your Winter Break from school. The Baltimore Orioles like the bird shown here have flown south for the winter but Maryland has many other birds that spend their winters here  — right in your own backyard.

Make December 2nd Your Giving Tuesday!

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On December 2, 2014, Pledge Your Support to Friends’ Environmental Enrichment Sponsorship for Title I Students

In 2012, The Friends of the Robinson Nature Center introduced its Title I Field Trip Sponsorship Awards, increasing access to environmental enrichment programs that take place at the innovative Robinson Nature Center in Columbia, Howard County, Maryland. The awards are granted to those Howard County elementary schools whose students qualify for Title I funds under federal law. The award currently provides financial assistance that enables each of 12 Title I elementary schools to send one grade per year on a field trip to the Center.  So far in the 2014-2015 school year, Friends has awarded financial support to 8 out of 12 schools, covering approximately 700 students. The Friends’ current goal is to encourage participation by all 12 Title I schools in Howard County.

Why do we need “Giving Tuesday”?

We are hopeful that “Giving Tuesday” donations would provide the opportunity to increase the amount of each Title I Field Trip Sponsorship award, enabling Friends to reach those schools whose financial need is greater than can be met by the current $500 award. “Giving Tuesday” donations may also permit us to help qualifying schools who want to send more than one grade on the field trip each year.

Future goals include expanding our reach beyond Howard County to serve neighboring Maryland counties where the need for such enrichment programs is often as great, or greater, than Howard County’s own.

What do the students experience at the Center?  Weather permitting, children study nature outdoors. Robinson Nature Center field trips include nature walks through the 18 wooded acres surrounding the Center. Students investigate native plants and trees and come to know how invasive species affect the native plant’s environment. Students explore the streams and the river that border the Nature Center grounds and learn about aquatic life. They discover how seeds travel and examine the conditions animals require for sustainable habitats.

Students also can study the Center’s indoor honey bee observation hive, seeing first-hand how honey bees forage for nectar in the outdoor observation garden and then fly back into the hive via a see-through tunnel.

One activity that seems to be the children’s favorite is watching and learning about the skies in the domed NatureSphere (a digital planetarium).

Help us expand this worthwhile program. With additional donations, we can increase financial support to Title I elementary schools and further environmental education in Maryland. Dedicate your donation today on our Donation Page.

(For more information on the history of this global giving event,  please visit

November Trivia Night – Wooohooo!

Robinson Foundation Exec. Dir., Marianne Pettis, poses with her team's "angel fish" on Trivia Night November 6th!

The Robinson Nature Center held its second Trivia Night on November 6 and it was a grand success. The topic, “Streams and Such”, was perfect for the Watershed and Jug Bay participants. The Center even had a group return from the first Trivia Night and they brought their enthusiasm for the game.

A full house of around 40 contestants and 6 teams learned and laughed and showed their competitive spirit. Participants included teams from Patapsco Heritage Greenway, the Friends of the Robinson  Nature Center, Anne Arundel Community College, and various young professionals some of whom came from Harford County.  They sampled micro-brews from Jailbreak Brewery Company and all the proceeds benefited the Friends of the Robinson Nature Center Title I School Field Trip Sponsorships.

The next Trivia Night will be held in January (date to be announced).  The topic generally will be astronomy with a panel of astronomers who will try to stump you so all you amateur (and professional) astronomers out there, keep watching our calendar of events for the January date!