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!

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

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 [email protected].

Join the North American Butterfly Association Count at the Clifton Institute, 28 July

The Clifton Institute is hosting its 23rd annual butterfly count and celebrating its 16th year in collaboration with the North American Butterfly Association July count. They need novice and experienced butterfly enthusiasts to serve as citizen scientists. As a participant, you will be assigned to small teams, led by an experienced butterfly counter. Teams will survey a variety of sites within our count circle.

What you need to know:

Saturday, July 28, 8:00AM-4:00PM (Check-in begins at 8 am with refreshments. Volunteers should be on site no later than 8:30)

$5 fee for participating adults; children 8 and older may participate (fee waived), when accompanied by a parent

Bring your lunch and spend the day. Outdoor clothing and shoes, hats, sunscreen, and water bottles are essential. Cameras and close focus binoculars are suggested. (If you are a photographer, please let us know. We would like to place one photographer on each team!)

Contact Bert Harris at [email protected] for more information and to RSVP (required).

Professional development courses for teachers from Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a five-day summer professional learning adventure on the Bay or one of its tributaries. More than 30 courses are offered that will explore the mountains of Virginia, the rivers of Pennsylvania, the islands of the Bay, and many places in between. Learn how to integrate the environment into your classroom and to help your students achieve environmental literacy success.

Learn more 

Environmental education grants on offer

Two environmental education grant programs are currently accepting applications:

EcoTech Grants offer up to $2,500 to engage children in inquiry-based, STEM-related projects that leverage technology and/or use nature-based design to address environmental problems in local communities.

Project Learning Tree’s Greenworks Grants offer of up to $1,000 to fund student-implemented projects that green the school or improve an aspect of the neighborhood’s environment.