Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Grasses for the Masses” Workshop, 25 or 27 January: Register now

Here is a great project for gardeners and non-gardeners alike during the winter.  You can grow native plants indoors during the winter months, and install them in the spring where they can provide enormous environmental benefits.
The project is the “Grasses for the Masses” program that is sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).   The Grasses program provides an opportunity for Virginia residents to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s rivers. Participants will attend a workshop to receive a simple kit and instructions to grow native aquatic “celery” grasses (Vallisneriaamericana) in their homes, classrooms, or businesses during the winter, and plant them at Mason Neck Park in the spring. The grasses filter nutrients and provide important habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures.
The fee to participate is $40, which covers part of the cost of the kit and includes a one year membership to CBF.

Time and Location of Workshops in Arlington, VA:
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, 7:15-8:15 pm OR Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, 9:00-10:30am
Both workshops are at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 South Stafford Street, Room 118, Arlington, VA 22206

There are other workshops at NOVA Community College and Fredericksburg, as well as other locations around the state.
Registration is now OPEN.  Click HERE for locations and to register.  Spaces are limited, so don’t wait too long, or you will may miss a chance to participate!
For more information contact Ashley Reams  
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Regional Coordinator, volunteer

Michelle Prysby’s December Keynote Highlights Virginia Master Naturalists’ Response to State and National Needs

As wild habitat disappears across the United States, and funding for natural resource conservation recedes, the need for conservation volunteers has never been greater. According to Michelle Prysby, Virginia Master Naturalist Program Director, master naturalist programs help buffer natural and man-made threats in measurable ways.

Since the 1990s, master naturalist programs have sprouted up in more than 30 states, many inspired by the 20-year-strong Texas program and nurtured by grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Created in 2005, Virginia’s own program now has 29 chapters, with a new one in the works in the Middle Peninsula region, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2016, Virginia Master Naturalists delivered about 140,000 hours of volunteer work to the Commonwealth, worth approximately $4 million. Most of that work came in the form of citizen science.

This context for the Fairfax Master Naturalists was central to Prysby’s keynote at our December 8 annual meeting and graduation of the Fall 2017 class of volunteers. Prysby serves on the extension faculty of the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and spoke at the December meeting in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Fairfax chapter.

Prysby, who remembers the founding of our chapter, highlighted  outcomes that have helped natural resource agencies with conservation efforts. Results range from maintaining songbird habitat and native wildflower gardens to water monitoring and repairing riparian buffers that improve water quality.

With seven different natural resource agencies as sponsors, Virginia Master Naturalists is unique among programs in the United States. The agencies’ faith in and funding for this growing cadre of volunteer naturalists stem from the return on their investment in the program. Statewide, master naturalists deliver many benefits: Managing invasive species, adopting birding and wildlife trails, and providing needs assessment and strategic planning that support and expand agency capacity.

A certified Virginia Master Naturalist herself, Prysby also serves as the current president of a national organization–the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs. Wearing that hat in addition to her Virginia role gives her a keen perspective on conservation stewardship nationally.

To sustain and further our excellent work, Prysby and FMN leadership invite applications for the Spring 2018 class.–Michael Reinemer, FMN President

Alonso Abugattas speaks on interconnectedness of natural world, Saturday, 20 January, Frying Pan Park

Alonso Abugattas, the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, VA, and the Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of Region 2 of the National Association for Interpretation, will speak on behalf of the Annual Invasive Management Area meeting. Alonso writes the Capital Naturalist blog, found at . Brunch fare and drinks will be provided.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

9-11:30 AM

Visitor’s CenterAuditorium

Frying Pan Farm Park

2709 West Ox Road

Herndon VA 20171


RSVP by 8 January to [email protected] or [email protected] or by calling (703) 324-8681

Charles Smith speaks on relationships between plants, fungi, bacteria, and insects, Thursday 11 January, Green Springs

Charles Smith kicks off the 2018 Green Springs Gardens lecture series with a talk on the interactions and relationships in plant communities. Learn about organisms that interact with plants, such as insect larvae, lesser known pollinators and bacterial and fungal allies.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

7:30 – 9:00 pm

Green Spring Gardens

4603 Green Spring Road

Alexandria, VA 22312




Review of Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change (2nd ed.), by Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump

Reviewed by Jim Wilcox

The facts about global warming and climate change are indisputable at this point, but all good naturalists still do their own research. To this end, for the past five years, I’ve completed more than 20 online courses and read about 30 well-researched books (references coming in a related post). If you have time to read only one book now, though, consider Dire Predictions (2015, 224 pp).

Mann and Kump, both professors at Pennsylvania State University, cover the science behind global warming and climate change; Earth’s climate history; how the water cycle and carbon cycle affect climate change; projections for future changes and what impact those changes will have on our environment, ecology, and sociology; possible mitigating actions; adaptive responses; and much more.

As scientists, the authors don’t shy away from data or math, nor are they dogmatic. Instead they speak in terms of probabilities and write for a general reader in easily understandable terms. Photographs and effective graphics document and illustrate complex concepts. A comprehensive glossary serves as a ready reference as do the frequent embedded bookmarks to other sections within the book.

Dire Predictions draws its information primarily from the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (hence the book’s second subtitle: The Visual Guide to the Findings of the IPCC).

Dr. Mann is probably best known for his work showing the rise of Earth’s average temperature graphically, the graph for which became known as the hockey stick.

You can preview the contents and layout of Dire Predictions at no charge and with no effort by clicking on this link to the abridged pdf. The Fairfax County Public Library system has 13 copies of the complete book. Borrow one. Read it. You will walk away better able to have an informed discussion.

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

Fairfax County Park Authority Certified Interpretive Guide classes, 5-8 February 2018: Register now

This FCPA certification workshop teaches the skills you need to interpret natural and cultural resources to any audience you choose. You will graduate understanding how to connect learners to the value of natural resources so that they care about them and pay the message forward.

This is a national certification program offered by the National Association for Interpretation hosted by the Fairfax County Park Authority for its staff.

Two sessions with five spots per session are open to the public. Register online NLT 20 January for either the session at Green Springs Gardens in Alexandria or the session at Dranesville Tavern in Herndon.

Registration Cost: $230 (Certification is an additional $150). Qualifies for learning hours for master naturalists.


Review of Crash Course, by Hank Green and John Green

Reviewed by Marilyn Kupetz

Let’s suppose that you are a master naturalist charged with setting up classes in ecology, biology, evolution, and genetics. A clever person, you are opting for flipped classes so that participants can do the fact-based parts of the learning beforehand, while you use class time for hands-on collaboration.

Where do you go for high-quality content?

Crash Course at your service.

The Green brothers, both polymaths, have built a repository of user-friendly lessons on YouTube. Their hilarious 10- to 15-minute bursts are scientifically sound, relevant to what naturalists do, and lots easier to absorb than a long book or classroom lecture.

The Ecology playlist, for example, features Hank’s 12 lessons on the history of life, population ecology, human population growth, predators, succession, ecosystem ecology, hydrologic and carbon cycles, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, pollution, conservation and restoration—solid stuff, but designed for easy digestion.

Biology offers 40 lessons. Among them, “That’s Why Carbon is a Tramp,” “Animal Development: We’re Just Tubes,” and “Fungi: Death Becomes Them” remind you that humor is an awesome learning lubricant when what needs to go down are bits of covalent bonds and mycorrhizae.

Are these snacks the same as a full-length college course? Of course not, but for concepts, conversation, and test prep, they are delicious and filling.

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

Stream monitoring sessions in January: Plan now so that you can attend

Saturday, January 6

Stream Monitoring Workshop: Chantilly

Time: 1:30 – 4pm

Location: Big Rocky Run Stream Valley Park, Chantilly

Help monitor Big Rocky Run as it flows through a sliver of forested parkland between the residences of the Greenbriar neighborhood. Please RSVP to Dan Schwartz for directions and instructions.


Sunday, January 7

Stream Monitoring Session: Prince William County, Haymarket

Time: Noon – 2:30pm

Location: James Long Park, Haymarket

Join long-serving certified monitor Elaine Wilson and her team for fall monitoring at this beautiful site on the Catharpin Creek in the Gainsville area. This location has some outstanding and unique critters. Spots are limited. For more information and to RSVP, contact Elaine.


Wednesday, January 10

Fairfax County Public Hearing on the Environment

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Fairfax County Gov’t Center, Conference Rooms 9-10, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA

The Environmental Quality Advisory Council invites all interested citizens to share their views and concerns on the state of the County’s environment. Written, verbal or video testimony is encouraged. To be placed on the speakers list or for additional information, call the Dept. of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380 (TTY 711) or send an e-mail message (and/or submit written testimony) to [email protected]. For video testimony, upload to YouTube, Vimeo, or UStream and email the URL to EQAC by 5pm on January 3.


Saturday, January 13

Potomac River Cleanup

Time: 10am

Location: Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA

Participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by helping the Potomac Conservancy and its volunteers clean the river banks at Jones Point Park in the City of Alexandria. In 2017, this event prevented 12,000 pounds of trash from entering the river. Can YOU help break that record in 2018? Please RSVP online.

Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee looking for volunteers

Reston Association’s (RA’s) Environmental Advisory Committee is looking for volunteers to help prepare the 2018 Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER)

What is RASER?

It is an environmental report card that evaluates the condition of several environmental attributes of the Reston community and makes recommendations to protect or improve their conditions. The 2017 RASER can be viewed on the Nature Overview page of the RA website at:,RecreationEvents/NatureEnvironmental Resources/NatureOverview/tabid/959/Default.aspx

What do we need?

A few volunteer citizen scientists or environmental professionals willing to work in a team environment to collect, assess, and summarize data pertinent to one or more of the following topics: air quality, water quality, vegetation, wildlife, light pollution, hazardous and toxic waste, solid waste, noise, urban agriculture, and energy conservation.

When do we need help?

The 2018 RASER project gets underway in January with a final report to the Reston Association Board of Directors by September 2018. The RASER Working Group meets once a month, but individual chapter teams may meet more often.

How do I apply to help?

Contact Doug Britt, RASER Working Group Project Director, at: [email protected] and type “RASER interest” in the subject line.

Does it qualify for VMN service hours?

Yes it does: Under Citizen Science # 245.

First Day Hikes, Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park is celebrating the new year with free entrance to the park and three guided hikes.

At 10 a.m. is a 3.5 mile hike of moderate difficulty but at an easy pace.

At 11 a.m. the park will feature a fast-paced, heart pumping hike incorporating several trails that will cover 6.2 miles. (That’s 10K for those who are metric system challenged!)

At 3 p.m. is a leisurely stroll on the Bay View Trail covering 1.0 miles and at an easy pace.

Of course you are always welcome to hike on your own. Mason Neck is a dog friendly park! You must have your four legged friend on a leash at all times.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation also is sponsoring a New Years Challenge and and a First Day Hikes Photo Contest. Prizes of up to $500 will be awarded to the winners. More information is available at

So come out to the park on January 1 and get a good start to the year!

Monday, January 1, 2018

10:00 AM — 4:00 PM

Visitor Center, Mason Neck State Park