Simmons, Roderick H. (Active)
City of Alexandria, Parks
Rod is a plant ecologist, with a background in biology and geology, who has extensively surveyed the flora and natural communities of the mid-Atlantic region, especially the inner Coastal Plain and Piedmont of the greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a Research Associate with the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution; a member of the Virginia Botanical Associates; a former consulting botanist with NatureServe; and works closely with the Virginia and Maryland natural heritage programs. Rod is the author of numerous technical reports, papers, and articles, and has published in scientific journals. He is a member and a past president of the Botanical Society of Washington, a past president of the Maryland Native Plant Society (MNPS), serves on the boards of both the Virginia Native Plant Society and MNPS, and is a regular field trip leader for all of these organizations. Rod has worked for nearly 21 years as the Natural Resource Manager and Plant Ecologist for the City of Alexandria, Virginia. Rod is a lifelong resident of northern Virginia and has witnessed innumerable changes in the natural landscape and culture of the region over the years. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 70s in the Lake Barcroft area near the old Falls Church municipal airport at today's Skyline, Rod has an indelible memory of the many tens of thousands of acres of floristically diverse and largely undisturbed forest, field, stream, and wetland habitats throughout the greater region - and happily exploring a good number of them. In those days, natural areas and wildlife were close at hand and one could simply walk down the street to find them. Much of the outlying suburbs were still rural. Also fondly remembered are the countless weekend trips as a youngster with his father to a number of the region's famous old nurseries - Hill's, Westcott's, Campbell and Ferrara, and others - where one would spend many hours perusing the stock, looking for new and rare specimen plants. These outings undoubtedly further inspired Rod's innate affinity for plants in particular, and natural communities as a whole. Rod obtained a BS degree in Biology from George Mason University in 1987 and has completed continuing education studies at Indiana University, Virginia Tech, and others, all at the undergraduate level and interdisciplinary. In the early 1990s, Rod was hired as the curator of flora and plant ecologist at the Winkler Botanical Preserve in Alexandria, Virginia, which was at that time a fairly large, pristine, forested natural area with a spectacular remnant flora and habitats. This role took on a myriad of duties, and presented considerable opportunities for collaboration with federal, state, and local scientific communities, including drafting "Guidelines for the Use of Native Plants" for the Federal Native Plant Conservation Initiative that was newly created in 1992 after President Clinton signed an Executive Memorandum ordering the use of native plants on federal properties. Since that time, Rod's work has involved conservation biology, systematic botany, vegetation ecology, herbarium science, environmental policy and law, environmental education, and natural lands management and ecological restoration. He was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 2017.