Fairfax Station Patch Article (by Elizabeht Vittori)

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Walney Amphibian Campfire Program

As a young boy growing up in Centreville and Clifton, Mark Khosravi always had a fascination with nature.

“Especially things that crawled or moved around,” Khosravi, who now lives in Clifton, said.

He spent much of his time in the then woods near Cub Run observing turtles, fish and frogs.  He credits several family friends with nurturing his early curiosity, teaching him to fly fish, introducing him to nearby waters via boat, and instilling in him an appreciation for Civil War history.

A biology teacher at Lake Braddock High School since 1998, Khosravi now shares his passion for the outdoors, particularly reptiles and amphibians, with his students.

“Something so common to me like a box turtle draws excitement and questions from the kids,” Khosravi said.

While he enjoys seeing young student’s reaction to the species he introduces in class, he is concerned that young people today do not have the same unfettered access to the natural world’s activity that he did.  

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“When I was a teenager, I had a demanding schedule.  I played sports, but we were still outside in open areas and spaces,” Khosravi said.

As a resident of the Southwestern part of Fairfax County for 45 years, Khosravi is concerned by the changes he observes in the local environment.  

While he was quick to point out that his observations come strictly from personal experience, he has noticed more trash and solid waste in local streams and parks, naming Bull Run, Hemlock and Popes Head parks specifically.  

“Take queen snakes for example; you just don’t see them that much anymore,” Khosravi said. He noted the decline in several bird calls that he heard regularly as a boy.  

He suggested the rapid pace of area development may be the cause.  As a teacher, a volunteer naturalist and a blogger, he hopes to reverse that trend.  In fact, Khosravi has several classrooms that stretch well beyond the campus of Lake Braddock High School.

A member of the Virginia Herpetological Society and several other historical and conservation-conscious groups, Khosravi spends a good part of his spare time educating area residents on threats to indigenous local wildlife.  

His blog, “On the Trail with Mark and Mike, Our Encounters with Nature and the History Beneath our Heels” details his first-hand experience with all things natural from arachnids to blooming bluebells to the moon and beyond.

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On any given day, residents might expect to find him monitoring streams and wildlife, working with Fairfax county biologist Vicky Monroe, or hosting a seminar on historical awareness.  

Khosravi admits that his varied interests often pose a challenge to his schedule.  

“I wish I had a photographic memory.  I want to absorb everything I can and stay updated in current knowledge. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough,” Khosravi said. “There’s not enough time.”  

A self-described collector, his goal is to procure “a collection of knowledge.”  

He said he accepts and may even relish the demands of pursuing so many passions concurrently: “There’s discovery even at my age.”

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