ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Hundreds of people are learning more about the importance of the environment and preserving natural resources. On Saturday, James Madison's Montpelier hosted its first family-friendly ‘Eco Rodeo’ to celebrate Madison’s environmental stewardship.

“A lot of people don't know this, but James Madison, we can really call the father of environmentalism,” said Elizabeth Chew, vice-president of Museum Programs. 

In 1818, James Madison addressed the Agricultural Society of Albemarle. He spoke passionately about conservation and the importance of balancing what humans take from nature.

"He talked about preserving the woods, not chopping down all the trees, taking care of the soil, doing soil rotation and plowing in a way that didn't cause erosion,” said Chew.

Years later, Madison’s environmentalism is still being recognized and shared with others. 

"We have all kinds of speakers and groups. We have beekeepers and the SPCA and groups that are protecting soil and water and rivers,” said Chew.

The festival is co-sponsored with the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Virginia Wildlife Center.

"This Eco Rodeo event is right in our wheelhouse with the mission of the Wildlife Center which is to teach the world to care about wildlife and the environment,” said Shelly Hokanson, outreach volunteer for the Virginia Wildlife Center.

In order for animals and humans to continue to thrive, everything needs to be working together.

"Everything is all connected, the success of wildlife relates to the success of the environment and the success of the environment relates to success as humans,” said Hokanson.

Montpelier continues to exercise Madison’s environmental efforts through techniques such as adaptive reuse of buildings, and permanent protection of certain land plots through easements. Organizers said it will become an annual event.