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Get involved in Audubon’s Wildlife Sanctuary Program

Certifying properties as “Wildlife Sanctuaries” is a volunteer-driven project of the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Audubon Society.  It embraces the principles of the National Audubon Society’s Bird-Friendly Communities and promotes citizen participation in conserving and restoring local natural habitat and biodiversity.

The largest volume of acreage available for conservation and restoration of healthy green space in Northern Virginia is “at home” in our own backyards.  Incentives for participation include making a difference in aiding the environment and pride in property certification and registration as an “Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary.”

The program is open to residential properties, homeowner associations, schools, places of worship, parks and commercial properties and other potentially sustainable wildlife habitats, both public and private seeking.

Learn more about criteria, sanctuary species, and the certification process.

Encourage students to submit to Next Gen Capture Conservation Film Contest 2018

 The American Conservation Film Festival is sponsoring its annual  youth-targeted short film initiative to encourage young people ages 5 to 18 to explore their relationship with nature and the world around them through the medium of film and video. Deadline for submissions: 1 September 2018

Submission Guidelines 

1. All films must be uploaded to Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/groups/456630 and submitted online no later than September 1, 2018. 

2. Films cannot exceed four minutes in length, including credits. 

3. All films must be produced in 2017 or 2018 and feature the entrant’s relationship with environmental, cultural, and/or historic conservation. The theme is intentionally wide-reaching to allow for diverse creativity, interpretation, and message. 

4. All youth submitting films must be age 18 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Actors or interviewees in the film can be any age. If working under the direction of a teacher, mentor, or parent, that person must describe his/her role in detail. 

5. Film categories are: Students age 10 & under; students age 11 to 14; students age 15 to 18; and team projects of two or more students (up to 5 persons) age 18 or under. 

6. All entries must be accompanied by a submission form including student name, age, mailing address, email address (if applicable), phone number, and title of film. 

7. The film must be accompanied by the tagline “This film was created for the American Conservation Film Festival – Next Gen Capture Conservation Contest” in the credits. 

8. All videos must be the original work of the entrant. Entrants should NOT use music, graphics, or footage that was created by others without obtaining rights (a license) to use it. 

9. Winning filmmakers will be asked to sign a release form granting the American Conservation Film Festival the rights to use, display or distribute the film. The American Conservation Film Festival does not limit the original creator’s use of the work in any way. 

10. Entrants can help promote their film and the contest using the hashtag #NextGenCaptureConservation on social media sites. 

Learn more

Attend Community-driven Citizen Science for Health and the Environment symposium, 14 June

The AAAS Fellows Crowdsourcing & Citizen Science Affinity Group and the South Big Data Innovation Hub proudly present a free symposium: Community-driven Citizen Science for Health and the Environment

The democratization of science and technology represents a tremendous opportunity to empower communities to address issues of local concern and to expand scientific knowledge used in policymaking in both the environment and the health sectors. Citizen science presents a tangible opportunity for the general public to connect with research and science policy by creating opportunities for real, needs-based engagement. However, without intentional processes and design, it is possible to exacerbate existing inequalities. This symposium will address the intersection of two complementary approaches: community-driven research and citizen science.

At its core, community-driven research involves the impacted community into research question and hypothesis generation. Once identified, the research questions may combine traditional and citizen science approaches in data collection and analysis. In contrast,  many citizen science projects are conceived and initiated by scientists to answer research questions and leverage non-professionals as a means to crowdsource data collection and/or analysis. This symposium seeks to focus on questions and techniques developed outside of the traditional scientific community to engage communities in both participation and co-creation.

This symposium will begin with a keynote address presenting a common understanding of community-driven research and citizen science. Related policies, projects, issues, and strategies will then be addressed in a series of three panels that focus on different aspects of community-driven citizen science.

Panels will cover these three themes:

  1. Community-Driven Water Quality Projects Focused on Aquatic Systems
  2. Addressing Equity in Environmental Health Using Community-Driven Citizen Science
  3. The Role of Large Citizen Science Platforms in Supporting Community-Driven Projects

Panelists will reflect viewpoints across the citizen science spectrum: from funders, to researchers, to members of impacted communities. The panelists will address policy considerations and contributions, broadening participation of underrepresented groups, project design and implementation, and outcomes.

Additionally, an expo for local community-driven citizen science projects will highlight local projects and organizations. Lightning talks by the exhibiting groups, sharing their interests in and/or experience with community-driven projects, will provide conversation-starters to facilitate networking.

At the end of the day, the goal is for attendees to gain a better understanding of the potential research, public engagement, and policy applications of community-driven citizen science and to advance their involvement with a broader network of interested communities.

* Co-sponsored by the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub*

Follow the discussion on Twitter with #AAASCitSci and #BDHubs!

Symposium Panelists and Moderators:

Karen Andersen, Friends of the Shenandoah River
Jay Benforado, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Gari Clifford, Emory University
Jennifer Couch, National Institutes of Health
John Dawes, Chesapeake Commons
Julia Drapkin, ISeeChange
Maura Duffy, National Aquarium
Scott Loarie, iNaturalist
Liam O’Fallon, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Raj Pandya, American Geophysical Union
Amanda Rockler, University of Maryland
Rodney Sampson, Opportunity Hub, Brookings
Lea Shanley, South Big Data Innovation Hub
Trey Sherard, Anacostia Riverkeeper
Stinger Guala, U.S. Geological Survey
Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland

Organizations participating in the Expo:

Reston Association
OpenAQ (as DataKind DC volunteer)
GLOBE Observer/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
ISeeChange
Audubon Naturalist Society
American Geophysical Union/ Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX)
U.S. Geological Survey
Washington Square Park Eco Projects
The New York Botanical Garden
AAAS
SciStarter

Agenda:

8:00 AM Arrival, check in, coffee

8:45 Welcome remarks by Carrie Seltzer and Stella Tarnay

9:00 Keynote address by Raj Pandya, Thriving Earth Exchange

9:30 Break

9:45 Panel 1: Community-Driven Projects Focused on Aquatic Systems

11:15 AM Lunch: Citizen science project lightning talks and expo

12:45 PM Panel 2: Addressing Equity in Environmental Health Using Community-Driven Citizen Science

2:15 Break

2:30 Panel 3: The Role of Large Citizen Science Platforms in Supporting Community-Driven Projects

4:00 Reception & citizen science project expo (continued)

5:30 End

 

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Auditorium
1200 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, 14 June 2018
8:00 am-5:30 pm EDT

Register here: https://www.aaaspolicyfellowships.org/events/symposium-community-driven-ctizen-science-health-and-environment

 

Join Matt Bright for a Conservation Walk at Marie Butler Leven Preserve

Marie Butler Leven Preserve offers 20 acres of rich woodlands and meadows that are being managed step-by-step into a virtual library of plants native to the greater Washington, D.C. area. This visit to the Preserve will be split between a walk through the preserve and helping with management of invasives and planting of natives. The walk will pass by a partially restored meadow with a mix of native forbs and grasses as well as remnant turf grasses, and down the wooded slopes towards Pimmit Run to a small seepage-fed wetland. Volunteers will be given a tour of restoration efforts of the park as well as native flora of note.  The group will be working on removing Vinca from an area where it threatens native populations of Phlox divaricata and Erythronium americanum.

Be prepared! Given the work, come with sturdy shoes, appropriate clothing for avoiding ticks, and gloves if you prefer. Also sunscreen, bug spray, and drinking water. Gloves and tools will be provided.

Matt Bright is Conservation Manager at the Earth Sangha, where he has worked full-time since 2011 on plant propagation, conservation, and restoration here in Northern Virginia and in the rural Dominican Republic. He lives on site at Marie Butler Leven Preserve with his wife Katherine Isaacson, who is the Outreach and Development Coordinator also at the Earth Sangha. Matt is a Certified Horticulturist with the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and an instructor for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. Before joining the Sangha full-time, Matt attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Sponsored by VNPS, this program is free and open to the public. However, space is limited so please click here to REGISTER.

To CANCEL your registration or ask a QUESTION, please email vnps.pot@gmail.com.

Marie Butler Leven Preserve

1501 Kirby Lane, McLean VA  22101

Saturday, May 26th

1.00 -3.00 pm

Look for grants from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

State and federal grants are available for these conservation projects:

Learn more

Get involved in Audubon’s Climate Watch citizen science work

Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report predicts that over half of North American bird species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.

To test these predictions, Audubon has been running a new community science project, Climate Watch, since January. Climate Watch aims to document species’ responses to climate change by having volunteer community scientists in the field look for birds where Audubon’s climate models project they should be in the 2020’s, giving us an understanding on how birds respond to a changing climate.

There’s still time to get involved. If you would like to find out more about being a volunteer or how to coordinate in 

your area, please contact the Audubon Climate Watch Team at climatewatch@audubon.org

Reston joins the Biophilic Cities Network with the help of Virginia Master Naturalists

Doug Britt

In his 1984 book, Biophilia, Harvard ecologist E. O. Wilson popularized the premise that people need contact with nature and that humans are inherently hard-wired for this attraction. Since then, the scientific community has reported that humans derive substantial physiological, psychological, and behavioral benefits from interacting with nature. More recently the concept of biophilia has taken root in the fields of architecture and urban planning. 

Building on the concept of biophilia, Dr. Timothy Beatley (Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, School of Architecture, University of Virginia) suggests that, as people across the globe become ever more urban, making life sustainable requires increasing the density and compactness of urban centers to reduce our energy use and carbon footprint.  The task of increasing urban density while simultaneously remaining in contact with nature is such a challenge that Beatley argues calls for a different approach to urban design. He suggests creatively incorporating nature into the daily lives of their residents, an activity already underway in many progressive large cities. To this end, he has spearheaded a project that attempts to link such cities together to help them share their experiences and become even healthier and more resilient communities. The resulting Biophilic Cities Network currently has 13 participating cities around the world, with many more in the application stage in an effort to join. 

In Virginia, Reston led the way into the Biophilic Cities Network 

In 2018, Reston officially became the 13th partner community, joining such biophilic cities as Singapore;  Sydney (Australia); Wellington (New Zealand); Oslo (Norway); Edmonton (Canada);  Portland; San Francisco; Austin; and Washington, DC. Dr. Beatley presented the Reston Association Board of Directors with the Biophilic Cities Network certificate on 22 March 2018. 

In 2017, Reston Association (RA) charged its Environmental Advisory Committee with the task of assessing and documenting the environmental conditions of the community to establish a baseline against which future changes could be measured. Consequently, the Committee formed a nine-member Working Group [the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) Working Group] to undertake this task.  Among the group members were six Fairfax Chapter VMN program graduates: Doug Britt, Don Coram, Robin Duska, Linda Fuller, Lois Phemister, and Claudia Thompson-Deahl. 

The final 2017 RASER was published in July 2017. It evaluated 16 separate environmental attributes of the Reston community, concluding with a postscript arguing that Reston is a biophilic community by design and intent of its founding principles. Reston’s particular way of connecting its natural areas to its residents (through its many walking paths, trails, Nature Center, recreation areas, and education/outreach programs) maximizes such connectivity and promotes more frequent, longer duration, and more immersive interactions. The preservation of Reston’s green spaces also creates healthy viewscapes from much of the built environment. 

The RASER authors recommended to the RA Board of Directors that they consider applying for inclusion in the Biophilic Cities Network. The Board accepted the recommendation and tasked the RASER Project Director, Doug Britt, with drafting the application. Britt then contacted Dr. Beatley and explained the many ways Reston manages and monitors its natural resources and promotes connectivity between its residents and its natural areas. Dr. Beatley indicated an application from the RA would be given serious consideration.  

How the application process works

The application involves an official resolution by a city’s mayor (or a community’s primary governing body) stating that the community intends to join the Network and become a biophilic partner community. It requires documenting the key ways the community already is biophilic. It requires a statement of goals and aspirations for the future. It also requires specifying at least five different biophilic metrics that will be collected and annually reported.  

The successful applicant is expected to share best practices; participate annually in at least one webinar, workshop, or Skype/conference call; respond to requests for assistance from partner communities, if possible; host visits from delegations from other partner cities; attend where/when possible yearly or semi-yearly Biophilic Cities World Conferences; assist individuals and organizational members of the Network; and other expectations consistent with serving as a leader in the Biophilic Cities Movement.

There is a nominal $250 application processing fee, and the applicant must identify an individual to serve as the primary Biophilic Cities Network Coordinator.   

Your community may benefit as much as ours has 

The benefits include the ability to share best practices, lessons learned, and effective policies with other progressive urban communities. It identifies the community as a leader in the international biophilic movement. And it is designed to promote urban development strategies that improve public health, enhance environmental quality, and create a more resilient and productive community.

Additionally, ever more large corporations are adopting a biophilic philosophy, creating more productive and healthy work environments, and using biophilic architecture to recruit and retain employees in a competitive labor market. Being designated as a biophilic community may help attract such progressive companies, further strengthening a community’s commitment to see its residents connect with nature where they work, live, and play. 

There are certainly other communities in the Commonwealth that have biophilic attributes and a desire to protect and enhance their connectivity to nature. It would be wonderful if Virginia could become the first state to have multiple communities designated as partners in the Biophilic Cities Network.

See Minimalism, environmental film showing in Reston, 24 May

How might your life be better with less? Minimalism examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking viewer inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life. Register by 24 May: naturecenter@reston.org, 703-476-9689, ext. 3. Free, but a $5 donation is suggested.

Walker Nature Center
11450 Glade Dr., Reston
Friday, 25 March
7-9 pm

Become part of the Habitat Network

Cornell Ornithology Lab and The Nature Conservancy have joined together to create Habitat Network, the first citizen science social network. Habitat Network is a citizen science project designed to cultivate a richer understanding of wildlife habitat, for  professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments.

The Network collects data by asking individuals across the country to, literally, draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools, and gardens. They connect you with your landscape details and provide tools for you to make better decisions about how to manage landscapes sustainably.

The kinds of questions they are seeking to answer with your help:

  • What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
  • Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
  • Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
  • What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
  • Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?

Service Project C253-Habitat Yard Mapping is approved for credit for FMN graduates. You can map your own yard, a local park, or other public or private property for which you have access permission. 

Learn more

Attend 2018 Wildflower Symposium: 18-20 May 

The 30th annual Wintergreen Spring Wildflower Symposium offers diverse coverage of wildflowers and mountain ecosystems. The setting has more than 30 miles of hiking trails and convenient access to diverse geological sites. Participants learn about botany, geology, entomology, ornithology and ecology from 17 speakers and instructors.

Come learn from:

Dr. Tom Akre- Director of Virginia Working Landscapes, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Dr. Barbara Abraham- Adjunct Professor, Christopher Newport University and Retired Professor, Hampton
University

Dr. Chuck Bailey- Director and Chair, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary

Doug Coleman-  Field Botanist; Executive Director, The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen

Gerry DeWitt- Nature Photographer

Dr. Mary Jane Epps- Assistant Professor of Biology, Mary Baldwin University

Dr. Linda Fink- Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Ecology, Sweet Briar College

Allen Hale- Owner, Buteo Books & Field Ornithologist, Virginia Society of Ornithology

Clyde Kessler- Birding and Insect Enthusiast, Regional Editor of Virginia Birds

Shawn Kurtzman- Biologist, Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech

Sarah Loken- Professional Macro photographer of the insect/wildflower connection

Chris Ludwig- Chief Biologist, Virginia Division of Natural Heritage & Co-Author, Flora of Virginia

Dr. Chip Morgan- Board Member, Flora of Virginia and Member of the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine
Knot Foundation Board

Dr. Janet Steven- Associate Professor of Biology, Christopher Newport University

Nancy Walters-Donnelly- Director of Activities, Massanutten Resort

Dr. Dennis Whigham- Senior Botanist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center & Founding Director,
North American Orchid Conservation Center

Tom Wiebolt- Retired Curator, Massey Herbarium, Vice President, Virginia Botanical Associates and contributor,
Flora of Virginia

 

Schedule and registration