Alonso Abugattas is a Natural Treasure
Arlington's natural resources manager knows the local flora and fauna. His enthusiasm is contagious.
Alonso Abugattas usually spends his days amid the flora and fauna that make up Arlington’s ecosystems. During his three decades as a naturalist—the past nine as natural resources manager for Arlington County—he’s tracked wild turkeys, treaded through bogs, led preschoolers on wooded scavenger hunts and studied the building habits of carpenter bees. He’s happiest when his boots are muddy.
In December, however, Abugattas was sitting in front of his computer when he learned he was named a Regional Environmental Champion by the D.C.-based Audubon Naturalist Society. The award was announced during the organization’s Naturally Latinos Conference, which was held virtually in 2020.
Though clearly an authority in his field, “he is also a very humble, very approachable person,” says Serenella Linares, a school programs manager for Audubon. “He helps build that sense of inclusion, that nature is for everybody.”
Abugattas is an instructor for five master naturalist chapters in Virginia, co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club and a member of the Virginia Herpetological Society’s identification team. His passion for nature is palpable.
“When you learn about one thing, everything else is connected to it,” he says. “I have this philosophy that it’s a nature puzzle. Everything fits together, and when you learn about one thing, you can’t help but learn about everything else.”
As we look forward to spring and an end to the pandemic, many Arlington families are eagerly anticipating a return to the woods, with Abugattas as a guide. Read his nature blog at capitalnaturalist.blogspot.com.