National Zoo Kid’s Farm looking for volunteers

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Kids’ Farm exhibit is home to domestic animals rather than exotic animals or wildlife. Volunteers will be trained to perform keeper aide tasks, such as preparing diets, cleaning enclosures and creating enrichment items. Additionally, unlike any other program at the Zoo, volunteers will also be trained in interpretation techniques, including interacting with the general public, giving public demonstrations and educating visitors about environmental issues.

Shifts are available daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers must be able to commit to at least one four-hour shift every other week for a minimum of one year.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Volunteers should be physically fit and willing to work in all types of weather, as the Kids’ Farm animals are housed outdoors and in a large barn. Volunteers should be interested in learning about and caring for a variety of domestic animals, such as cows, alpacas, chickens and donkeys as well as interacting with Zoo guests about environmental issues. Some animal care experience is preferred but not required.


Once provisionally accepted, volunteers must complete mandatory online and in-person orientation and training. Additional training will be provided on the job. There is a probationary period for all volunteers.


Washington DC





Zoo Support

Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

These positions are highly competitive, and there are limited spaces available. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement. Applicants will be interviewed by unit staff, and those who are provisionally accepted will undergo background checks, including fingerprinting, as a requirement for approval as a volunteer. Once accepted, volunteers must submit proof of required vaccinations, including tetanus and a negative TB test, to the Zoo’s health unit.

Please note: It is the Zoo’s policy that individuals who keep venomous animals in personal collections will not be accepted as volunteer keeper aides.

Apply here

Seven Myths About Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a great way to handle runoff on your property, but it is important to do it right. Rain gardens serve the dual purpose of improving landscape aesthetics and draining stormwater in an environmentally friendly and natural way. Whether you are planning to install a rain garden at home or simply curious about the process, Fairfax County’s Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District teaches about some common myths and misconceptions about rain gardens.

Virginia Master Naturalist Photo Contest Update

Author: Michael Reinemer

Telling stories and connecting dots about the natural world in Virginia are among our roles as Virginia Master Naturalists. Photographs can speak volumes about the flora, fauna, landscapes and our volunteer work in the Commonwealth.

So Fairfax Master Naturalists was pleased to receive a treasure trove of terrific images from members for the 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist photo contest. Selected entries from Fairfax Master Naturalists will be submitted for the state competition.

Milkweed seed, Kent Gardens Park, VA. Photo by Fred Siskind.

Beyond the contest, these types of photos help us spread the word about conservation, stewardship, and the wonders of nature we get to see up close.

A big thanks to contributors this year, including Michael Fox, Ana Ka’ahanui, Tami Sheiffer and Fred Siskind.

If you have photos about your FMN experience or Virginia’s natural world that you wouldn’t mind sharing with the public via FMN, feel free to send them to us with a caption and photo credit.

Paint Nite for the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

BlueRidge Wildlife Center is hosting a Paint Nite in the Ronald M. Bradley Learning Center, and invites the community to come paint with local artist Carol Erikson and the staff of BRWC.  Prior to painting, you can visit with their Wildlife Ambassadors.

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, 106 Island Farm Lane, Boyce, VA

Saturday, August 18, 2018

7 – 9 pm

BYO refreshments. Water is available, but all guests are encouraged to bring drinks and snacks for the event.

Tickets are $45 per person which covers all supplies.

$15 of each ticket will go toward Blue Ridge Wildlife Center’s rehabilitation work.

The deadline for purchasing tickets is August 4th, 2018.

Go to the Paint Nite website to sign up for this fun event!

New (and No-Cost) Statewide Beehive Program

Virginia has experienced a sharp decline in beehives. You can help rebuild the critical local buzz that’s needed.

Virginia’s recently established Beehive Distribution Program provides beehives to both new and established beekeepers in an effort to increase the number of actively managed bee colonies.

“Last winter, Virginia lost 59.5 percent of its hives,” said Keith Tignor, state apiarist. “The Beehive Distribution Program will help counteract those dramatic losses by assisting beekeepers in establishing new hives.”

The program provides beehive equipment directly to eligible beekeepers. Residents of Virginia who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to receive up to three beehive units per year. Individuals who receive a beehive unit will be registered as beekeepers, allowing for periodic inspection of beehives by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Learn more and apply for the beehive program.

Apply for Earth Sangha plant grant

The Earth Sangha Plant Grant supports small-scale, citizen-led restoration efforts across Northern Virginia. Twice a year, they accept applications for restoration projects on public lands in need of local-ecotype native plants. They then offer a matching grant on plants purchased (essentially a buy-one, get-one free offer) good for one season up to a certain dollar amount. No project is too small, whether it’s a community-led invasive pull, or a larger project with multiple partners, they want to support thoughtful restoration efforts on public lands.

More info and application

Fall volunteer opportunities at Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Want to share your love of nature with children and families?  Great opportunities are coming up this fall for Master Naturalists and other interested volunteers. Here’s a sampling:

Meaningful Watershed Education Experience, Hidden Oaks, Sept. 26 & 27, 9am-12:24pm; Oct. 2, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17, 18, 24, & 25, 9:15am-12:45pm.  Assist at stations including stream studies, stewardship, benthic macroinvertebrate study or live animal exhibits for 7th grade classes.  Contact Kim Young,

Fear-less Fest, Hidden Oaks, Oct. 27, 5:30pm-9:15pm. Join as a trail leader or costumed creature explaining away their scary reputations, or lead a craft.  Light supper provided. Contact Fiona Davies,

Monarch Tag and Tea, Hidden Oaks, Sept. 9, noon-4pm.  Assist with crafts and monarch butterfly tagging.  Can do part of presentation, if desired. Contact Fiona Davies,

Nature Playce Celebration, Hidden Oaks, Sept. 29, noon-5pm.  Hidden Oaks celebrates outdoor play and environmental stewardship at the 10th anniversary of Nature Playce and the watershed-friendly parking lot.  Lead a craft or activity station. Can volunteer for a minimum of two hours.  Contact Fiona Davies,

Plants and Trees for Child Care Professionals, Hidden Oaks, Oct. 13, 7:30am-12:45pm.  Prepare crafts in advance or assist on the day for Office for Children Institute of Early Learning workshop on native plants and trees for up to 50 licensed child care professionals.  Contact Suzanne Holland,

Master Naturalists can record hours for the programs above as E110: FCPA Nature Programs.

Find more opportunities by contacting a Fairfax County nature center or park near you.  Hidden Oaks, Huntley Meadows, Riverbend, Ellanor C. Lawrence, Frying Pan, Green Spring Gardens, Hidden Pond, and Cub Run RECenter have a wide variety of volunteer needs in nature programs, citizen science and stewardship.

Aid in native plant rescue, 21 July

Friends of Accotink Creek invites you to help rescue native plants in the path of a stream restoration project along Flag Run. Be prepared to take your plants away for replanting at home or other authorized location. Bring trowels, shovels and buckets.  Sturdy work shoes, long pants, and long sleeves are recommended. Water and work gloves will be available.  RSVP here.

Elgar Street between Ravensworth Road and Juliet Street, Springfield, VA

Saturday, 21 July 2018

10 am – 1 pm

Learn about dragonflies in Reston, 26 & 28 July

Dragonflies are fascinating and colorful insects with bizarre behavior.  An educational program on dragonflies will be offered in Reston on July 26 and 28, 2018.  The program consists of a class on the biology, conservation, and identification of local dragonflies followed by an opportunity to observe dragonflies in the field.   The class will be taught on Thursday, 26 July 2018 by Ken Rosenthal, Park Naturalist, Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation, Gulf Branch Nature Center, and Don Coram, Fairfax Master Naturalist, Class of Fall 2016.  The field observations will be held on Saturday, 28 July 2018, going out from the Walker Nature Center.  A dozen or more different dragonflies may be observed.  The class and field observation are free if you do both; the class is $5.00 if you just take the class.  To register, sign up on the Reston website,, or call the Nature Center, 703-435-6530.

Walker Nature Center

11450 State Rte 4721, Reston, VA 20191

Class:  Thursday, 26 July 2018

7-8:30 pm

Field observations:  Saturday, 28 July 2018

9:45 am-1 pm


Join Dragonfly Workshop at Clifton Institute, 11 August

On Saturday, August 11, 1:00PM-4:00PM, join Dr. Steve Roble, zoologist with the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage, for a program on dragonfly and damselfly biology and identification. Dragonflies are some of the most mysterious and beautiful animals that live at the Clifton Institute. And northern Virginia is a hotspot of dragonfly diversity, with at least 65 species present.

Steve Roble is a leading expert on the dragonflies and damselflies of Virginia. He will present on the fascinating biology of these insects and then we will explore the field station in search of dragonflies. We will visit lakes, streams, and fish-free vernal pools, each of which host distinct dragonfly communities. So far we have observed 34 species of dragonflies and 14 damselflies at Clifton.

Clifton Institute has a project on iNaturalist to host your observations.

Come help us add to the list! To RSVP please email Bert Harris at