Attend Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium 2018

Waynesboro Parks and Recreation presents A Gardener’s Palette, a learning opportunity for everyone from garden hobbyist to experienced landscape architect.

Proceeds from the event support our horticulture department’s Bloom Program.

Friday, March 16, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Best Western Inn & Conference Center, Waynesboro, VA

Learn more and register.


Attend Winter Waterfowl Workshop at Mason Neck

Saturday, January 27, 2018

9:00 AM 12:00 PM

Join the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia in preparation for their annual Winter Waterfowl Count. This field workshop will help hone your identification skills. Meet up at the Woodmarsh Trail parking lot, Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge. After a short hike to the observation deck, we’ll head back to our cars and drive to Mason Neck State Park Visitor’s Center.

This workshop is free, but there is a fee to enter the park. Larry Cartwright leads.

Volunteer opportunity: Help the Invasive Management Area program

The Fairfax County Park Authority has a volunteer program that battles invasive species, by removing them and replacing them with native species.  The Invasive Management Area (IMA) program is more than just pulling weeds. It’s also habitat restoration and a long-term commitment to parks.

Get involved! Even a few hours on a single day will help.  The IMA calendar is your opportunity to volunteer. To join a workday, click on the IMA Calendar or contact Erin Stockschlaeder at 703-324-8681 or Lindsay Edwards at 703-324-2598.

Learning opportunity: Identify Trees at Riverbend Park

A Field Trip with Emily Ferguson
Sunday, January 28, 2018
1:00 to 3:00 pm

Riverbend Park
8700 Potomac Hills St.
Great Falls, VA 22066

VNPS programs are free and open to the public, but space on field trips is strictly  limited.  Registration for field trips is required.

Emily Ferguson will lead a beginner winter tree walk providing easy tips to help identify native tree species.
Emily developed her interest in Virginia’s flora and fauna while living in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville.  When a career move relocated her to Northern Virginia, she struggled to maintain a connection with the natural world.  Emily completed the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist course in 2010, the Tree Steward course in 2011, and a bee-keeping class in 2012. Since then, she continues to provide support for activities involving trees and enjoys sharing her knowledge about them.
Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society
PO Box 5311
Arlington, VA  22205\potowmack


Volunteer opportunity: Serve as a Science Fair Judge

Every year thousands of kids do Science Fair projects.  Judges are needed to evaluate the projects done by our own Fairfax County high school students, and to give them an opportunity to practice their presentation skills.  This is an opportunity to get to know a younger generation and to hear and challenge their thinking.
Judging typically occurs on a school day afternoon or evening, or on a Saturday morning.  Judges work in groups according to their chosen fields within science, and judges are provided with the criteria to use in evaluating student work.  Each judge is assigned to evaluate 8 to 12 specific projects, and each project is assigned to 2 or 3 judges. All the participating students with their projects are stationed in a large room until they have had the opportunity to present their project to their judges.  Groups of judges meet afterwards to compare their evaluations of the projects and to identify those that should receive awards and be forwarded on to the countywide science fair.  First time judges work with experienced judges to become familiar with the process, and some schools can even provide childcare for their judges!
About two dozen Fairfax County high schools will be having science fairs this winter, starting on January 17  and continuing through February.  The typical time commitment is for 4 hours, starting at 2 pm in the afternoon.  This is a great opportunity to get to know teens who are working hard to gain skills and understand the world.  You will be impressed with how many of them care about good environmental stewardship.
Come encourage them!
Contact Cathy Greulich  to match your availability with the location and dates of the science fairs at the various high schools, or contact your local high school to find their date.

Review of Nature is One of the Most Under-appreciated Tools for Reigning in Carbon, by Emma Bryce

Reviewed by Tami Sheiffer

I’ve always been a big-picture person more than a details-person. in Virginia Master Naturalist basic training, I appreciated learning about the geology, flora, and fauna specific to Virginia and Fairfax County, and I value the focus on native plants and animals in our service projects. But my mind always wants to zoom out to the global scale and to my primary concern, which is human-induced climate change. I wonder, does our volunteer work as master naturalists have a significant effect on mitigating climate change, even when our service projects are not directly related to the issue? Encouragingly, the answer seems to be yes.

In Nature is One of the Most Under-appreciated Tools for Reigning in Carbon (20 October 2017) in the magazine Anthropocene, Emma Bryce summarizes Justin Adams’ (2017)  study, Natural Climate Solutions, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . The study found that natural climate solutions–reforestation, conserving wetlands, sustainable fertilizer use, and other land management strategies–have a great effect on removing carbon or keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. Even with constraints added to the model, to ensure that land requirements for food production are met, and costs are kept down, a conservative model estimates that natural climate solutions can save 11 billion tons of annual emissions, providing 37% of the mitigation needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goal of 2℃ of warming.

The study’s findings are encouraging, and Bryce sums up the key takeaways so that they are easy to remember. The article gives readers information about which land management strategies have the largest impact on carbon mitigation, and assures us that we have enough knowledge about their effectiveness to act on these solutions now.

It turns out that when we plant trees and other native plants, or engage in park restoration, or educate a landowner or farmer to use less fertilizer and disturb the soil less, collectively we are not just improving the local environment but the global one as well.

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

Paid internship opportunities at U.S. Botanic Gardens, 5 February deadline

The U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, D.C., is offering 12-week paid summer internships for students at least 16 years old as of 30 June 2018 and enrolled in school or college.


Position 1: Laborer or Gardener Aide

Position 2: Horticulture Aide

Compensation: $13.63/hour

Deadline to apply is 5 February

Job opening: Watershed Projects Manager for Arlington County, VA, 19 January deadline

Arlington County’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) is seeking a Watershed Projects Manager to support the County’s comprehensive stormwater management program. This employee will be responsible for implementation of watershed retrofit and stream restoration projects as part of Arlington County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit and Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan. This employee will manage capital stormwater projects from concept design through construction, work collaboratively to ensure projects are adequately maintained and monitored, and, in conjunction with outreach staff, will engage and inform residents, civic associations, community groups, commissions, County management and elected officials about stormwater capital projects. This employee will also review development plans affecting riparian buffers, streams and wetlands.

Applications received prior to January 19, 2018 will receive priority. However, applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Please visit for the full position announcement.

January 6 Hike to the Tundra Swans is postponed

The Friends of Mason Neck State Park’s hike to see the Tundra Swans on January 6 has been postponed.  The Great Marsh is freezing over, and the Tundra Swans will have to move further offshore or to another protected spot.  The hike will be rescheduled for February,  when the swans will be more visible.

2018 Native Seedling Sale: Plant List and Theme Announced!

Hold on to your trowels – the native species included in the NoVA Conservation District’s 2018 seedling sale have been announced!! This year’s species were all chosen for their deer tolerance. The Shrub and Small Tree Package ($16.95) will include two each of the following: Common Witch Hazel, Silky Dogwood, False Indigo Bush, Spicebush and Shadblow Serviceberry. The Tree Package ($11.95) will include two each of Eastern Redbud, Shortleaf Pine and Pawpaw. All species are Virginia natives and wildlife friendly! Online ordering will start February 1st, and seedling packages can be picked up at the Packard Center in Annandale on April 20th and 21st.