The Shenandoah Soirée: An Evening of Nature & Neighbors

We are thrilled to announce that tickets are now available for the second annual Shenandoah Soirée, hosted by Trustee Dr. Douglas Ward & Rev. Earl Johnson at their home, the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge, in Woodville, Virginia. 

Inspired by Yukon houseboats, Doug and Earl’s home sits out on the largest body of water in Rappahannock County: a 39-acre lake within the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. “It’s a very spectacular and unique setting,” said Earl. “We’re right next door to Shenandoah National Park, and we look out on Marys Rock and Skyline Drive.” With native wildlife and migratory birds finding sanctuary throughout the year, the committee is hopeful that Soirée attendees will be greeted by a spectacular sunset and a visit from the refuge’s resident beaver and bald eagle! 

Doug and Earl both have generational histories in the Park, with both their families and one another, and they love being neighbors to Shenandoah. From childhood visits to Skyline Drive and a weekend getaway cabin just a mile from Old Rag to years of enjoying the Summer Safari fundraising event, the couple has loved Shenandoah National Park for as long as they can remember. “We really love the Trust and what they are trying to accomplish – their vision and their relationship with the Park,” said Earl. 

Earl and his father on Skyline Drive in 1954.

They are delighted to be hosting this year’s Shenandoah Soirée, viewing the event as a sort of continuation of the Summer Safari fundraiser that used to take place at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, but solely benefitting Shenandoah. 

This event brings like-minded people together in support of our Park,” said Trustee Cheri Woodard, who is co-chairing the planning committee with Doug and Trustee Nan Roberts for a second year. There will be fantastic food and craft, specialty cocktails. The stunning location will also provide an experience that will be unlike anything else you have seen. 

Rev. Earl Johnson, Trustee Dr. Douglas Ward, and Program & Community Outreach Coordinator Julie Shuren at the 2022 Shenandoah Soirée

Trustees Nan Roberts and Cheri Woodard at the 2022 Shenandoah Soirée

Shenandoah National Park is a major economic driver for the Rappahannock region, bringing more than a million visitors to the area every year. As residents of Rappahannock County, Doug, Earl, and Cheri all share a desire to bring their neighbors together in support of Shenandoah. “About 25% of the land in Rappahannock County is in Shenandoah National Park,” explained Cheri. “It’s so important for our friends and neighbors to be aware of the good work and positive impact the Trust has on the Park, and as a result, our backyard. 

We love living here, added Earl. “And there is a hunger after COVID for us to meet and greet our neighbors in the county and region, and we hope that this benefit will underwrite invaluable programs of the Trust and its future. 

The Soirée will be held on Sunday, May 7th, from 4:00-6:00pm. Due to the unique nature of the venue, tickets will be limited and are expected to sell out quickly. The planning committee is still accepting sponsorships for this event, which come with leveled perks, recognition, and complementary tickets. When you register, simply choose a sponsorship level in lieu of selecting a ticket. 

Soirée guests are also invited to a special guided Bird Walk at Seven Islands, home to Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and numerous species of ducks and other waterfowl. With the purchase of an additional Bird Walk ticket, guests can enjoy a two-mile, two-hour stroll around the lake led by some of Rappahannock’s top birding experts. 

All proceeds from the Shenandoah Soirée will benefit projects and initiatives that support our beloved national park 

Birds visiting the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit to Dr. Doug Ward & Rev. Earl Johnson.

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