Friends of Wolf Trap’s First Time Campers Program

First Time Campers Program: Spring 2019 (April 5 – 6)

April 5 @ 8:00 am – April 6 @ 5:00 pm

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, in conjunction with the Friends of Wolf Trap (FOWT) and Scouts BSA Troop 55 (Great Falls, VA) sponsors a camp out for Fairfax County 5th & 6th graders in the spring and fall each year. The campout helps campers learn new skills, demonstrate that outdoor activities can be fun, teaches them about different aspects of nature and fosters a meaningful connection to the natural world.

This is an opportunity for Fairfax Master Naturalists to help youth learn to become comfortable with the outdoors, have fun and build confidence, while not venturing too far from home. This is also a great way for parents to learn to become more comfortable that their child can thrive independently.

Fairfax Master Naturalists should refer to Project E248 in the Service Catalog for additional information on the program and participation requirements.

Canada Goose Management Strategies Workshop

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 10:00- 11:30 am
Fairfax County Animal Shelter 4500 West Ox Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030

A free workshop for parks, private citizens, homeowner associations, schools, golf courses, corporate parks, etc.

Learn about Canada goose behavior, effective goose management techniques (egg oiling, border collies, exclusion techniques), community case studies and regulations. This event is limited to 40 participants. Please register by March 4th.

Sponsored by the:

  • Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist
  • Fairfax County Park Authority 

For more information and to register please contact Kristen Sinclair by phone at (703) 324-8559 or email [email protected].

Want to become a Riverbend Park volunteer? 

Attend the next monthly Volunteer Orientation: Saturday, March 2, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm

Learn about our upcoming opportunities, projects, and events and get started on your training with a hands-on project!

Upcoming Opportunities 

  • Wildflower Survey (Feb-May) NEW – Identify & document native and non-native wildflowers 
  • Spring Salamander Survey (Feb-May) – ID, measure, and document salamanders 
  • Turtle Survey (Feb-May) NEW – ID native turtles and help us track & document their presence at Riverbend
  • Wildlife Camera Monitor NEW – Help us set up & track wildlife cams throughout the park and review footage for     some action! 
  • Exhibit Animal Care – Help provide care for our exhibit animals (min 4hrs/month for 6 months) 
  • Survey Data Entry (winter-spring) NEW – Enter data on our salamander survey onto a spreadsheet     
  • Spring/Summer Programs – Join our interpretive team and provide assistance at our camps & programs 
  • Dragonfly Survey (March-Oct) *training in March 
  • Bluebell Festival on April 6th! 
  • Ongoing Opportunities Watershed Clean ups, Habitat restoration, Trail maintenance and restoration, Gardening/plants Park Support 


Valeria Espinoza, Volunteer Coordinator [email protected]

Rita Peralta, Natural Resources Manager [email protected]

New spring projects at Hidden Oaks

Each of these projects is on the FMN Service Project Calendar and count toward your FMN hours.  

Friday, March 1, 9am-11:15 pm or Saturday, March 2,  Dr. Seuss Celebrations  

Assist a naturalist with a salute to native animals that have real adaptations that rival the author’s fanciful creations.  Contact Fiona Davies, [email protected] or 703-941-1065.

Saturday, March 9, 8am – 1pm, Office for Children, Reptiles and Amphibians

Assist a naturalist at Hidden Oaks with the professional child caretaker three hour workshop on reptiles and amphibians to include leading crafts, walks, games and, if desired, part of of the presentation to 50 adults who care from 5-25 preschool children. Class is half outdoors or more depending on the weather. Please contact with interest and questions to [email protected]

Monday, March 11, 3:00pm – 4:15 pm, Centreville Library Outreach (Spring Changes)

Lead or assist a spring changes program for families at Centreville Library based on Hidden Oaks’ proram. Materials, animals, craft etc. provided. Can carpool from Hidden Oaks or meet there if assisting. If leaving from Hidden Oaks, start time is 1:45. Contact Fiona Davies at [email protected] or call 703-941-1065 


Join Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, Saturday, April 13

The Alice Ferguson Foundation is sponsoring the Potomac Watershed Cleanup on Saturday, April 13.

Join the 31st Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. The official date is Saturday, April 13, however, there will be cleanups throughout the entire month of April.

The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is the largest regional event of its kind, and the Cleanup aims to engage citizens and community leaders and to generates momentum for change.

The Friends of Accotink Creek website has information about Accotink Creek watershed cleanups on weekends, April 5 through May 11.

This project is eligible for FMN service credit.

Hear bird calls at FMN Quarterly Meeting, Mar. 18

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale VA
Monday, 18 March 2019
7:30 – 9 pm

Public welcome!  The Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists will have a brief chapter meeting, enjoy some food and drink, give out door prizes, and enjoy a presentation on Beginning Birding by Ear by Colt Gregory. Colt Gregory has been pursuing birds since the 1970’s when he first saw an Oystercatcher through a scope at Assateague.
He started closely listening for birds when small children limited his outings to neighborhood walks.  He expanded his knowledge by listening to the Allen Kellogg LPs – (founder of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology) and moved on to CDs and MP3s! (Got to keep up with the technology.) Colt is an active member of Arlington Regional Master Naturalist, Northern Virginia Audubon Society, Northern Virginia Bird Club and volunteer for the National Park Service.  He participated in the two year birding census for National Park Service at Wolf Trap, leads a section on the Christmas Bird Count and co-leads the weekly Sunday bird walk at Great Falls National Park with Fairfax Master Naturalist Kristine Lansing.

Master naturalists can earn one hour of continuing education credit.


Friends of Wolf Trap host City Nature Challenge (and training!)

As urban development in Northern Virginia continues to accelerate, the management of open spaces becomes more important than ever. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, which encompasses more than 130 acres with 2.7 miles of trails, forests, native gardens, streams and a pond, contains important natural, recreational and historical resources for the community. As a not-for-profit organization, the Friends of Wolf Trap (FOWT) contributes to community awareness and assists the National Park Service with providing educational programs, recreation, and preservation through centralized volunteer efforts.  The FOWT are interested in increasing involvement from Fairfax Master Naturalist members in conducting citizen science projects and promoting the Park’s natural resources to the public.

Please register for one or more upcoming events listed at  and mark your calendars and join us for the following upcoming events:

  • Sunday, April 7, 2019 (10:00 am to noon):  iNaturalist Training and Hike at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts; Using iNaturalist to document and learn about nature is easy! Learn how, then participate in #CityNatureChallenge April 26-29.  In preparation for the 2019 City Nature Challenge, please join Deborah Barber, Director of Land Management from The Nature Conservancy, who will provide brief ‘classroom’ instruction in using the iNaturalist app before leading the group through the Park’s trails and gardens to obtain practical field experience using the app.  Be sure you have a fully charged smart phone and have already downloaded and signed in to the app.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2019 (1:00 pm to 4:00 pm): City Nature Challenge ‘Hike and Explore’ at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts; Take part in the 2019 City Nature Challenge at Wolf Trap! 130 cities across 6 continents are vying to prove that their area has the most nature and the most nature-loving residents – and we want the DC Metro Area to win!  Join us for a group hike or strike out on your own to explore the Park’s 130 acres including forests, trails, streams, ponds, meadows and gardens as you take pictures of Parks many plants and animals while taking part in the City Nature Challenge.  We will start with a brief introduction of how to use the iNaturalist app, so be sure you have a fully charged smart phone and have already downloaded and signed in to the app. (C260 is the appropriate service code)

Sign up to be trained as an Audubon at Home Ambassador

Are you a bird lover who wants to create habitat to attract birds to your or your neighbors’ yards?  Are you a native plant lover?  Are you intrigued by observing wildlife in your own yard?  Do you lament the prevalence of English ivy, and sterile, conventional landscapes and lawns in Fairfax County suburbs?

If so, this is the gig for you!  Sign up to be trained as an Audubon at Home Ambassador and help transform the landscape of Northern Virginia, one yard at a time.

A training/orientation session will be offered Saturday, April 1, at the National Fish and Wildlife Federation headquarters at 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, from 10 a.m. to 1.  Bring a bag lunch.

Please email Betsy Martin at [email protected] by Tuesday Feb. 26th if you’d like to sign up. 

Audubon at Home Ambassadors visit properties and provide advice to homeowners on what natives to plant, what invasives to remove, and how to improve wildlife habitat in peoples’ backyards.  We certify properties as Wildlife Sanctuaries when homeowners adopt Best Habitat Practices, and when beneficial Sanctuary Species actually show up and use the yard. (Our motto is, “Let the animals decide.”)  You can learn more about the Audubon at Home program at .

On April 1, Betsy Martin (Fairfax County Audubon at Home Coordinator) will give a presentation on the program and its philosophy, the role of Ambassador, and resources that will help you research and advise clients on native plants and habitat improvements.

After lunch, Charles Smith of Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division will lead a walk on the beautiful and natural NFWF grounds, showing trainees how to read a landscape, what to look for when assessing its habitat value, and how to think about creating wildlife habitat.

Audubon at Home is an approved FMN service project.  You will receive 3 hours of Continuing Education credit for attending this training session and service credit for each home visit.

How to identify plants on iNaturalist

Are you thinking about supporting the City Nature Challenge? Here’s a super easy-to-follow-video to learn how.

No need to say more–just watch.

Review of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannen

Reviewed by Tami Sheiffer

Studying mass extinction events from tens or hundreds of millions of years ago shows us that life on Earth is both precarious and resilient. In The Ends of the World, science writer Peter Brannen vividly describes the five past mass extinction events: End-Ordovician, Late Devonian, End-Permian, End-Triassic, and End-Cretaceous, and the lessons we can learn from them. This book offers something of interest to anyone interested in natural history, paleontology, geology, climatology, ecology, or evolution.

Brannen paints vivid pictures of life and destruction eons ago, interwoven with his personal tales of travel around the country talking with scientists and visiting paleontological sites. You can preview Brannen’s writing in one of his science articles, like this one titled “A Climate Catastrophe Paved the Way for the Dinosaurs’ Reign,” published in The Atlantic. Occasionally, Brannen’s storytelling risks anthropomorphism, as when he describes the first fish to walk on land in the Devonian as “bold explorers” and “brave pioneers.” However, Brannen’s engaging writing makes this book enjoyable reading for a broad audience.

By studying the causes of past mass extinctions, we find that most were caused by climate change. The Earth’s climate has changed naturally in the past, but drastic changes were violent and caused massive destruction. Life is ultimately resilient, and, eventually, surviving species evolved to repopulate a new Earth, but life after the extinction looked very different from life before. In the most deadly mass extinction, the End-Permian event, nearly all life was wiped out. This extinction event was caused in part by volcanic activity in the Siberian Traps burning underground coal basins and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Our present day fossil fuel activity has a similar effect of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but at an even faster rate than in the end-Permian extinction. The overarching theme of the book is that  past mass extinctions can teach us lessons for the present, as we find ourselves in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. This time, human activity is the cause of the extinction–beginning tens of thousands of years ago with the loss of megafauna like marsupial lions, giant kangaroos, woolly mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths due to hunting, and continuing today due to habitat loss and human-induced climate change. This book is ultimately a cautionary tale: learn from the past so we can avoid a catastrophe on the same scale today. 

On March 20, 2019, Peter Brannen will be speaking at an event at the Library of Congress called “Climate Change, Nature, and the Writer’s Eye”, along with distinguished authors Annie Proulx and Amitav Ghosh. The authors will discuss environmental change and a writer’s responsibility to the issue. This event is approved for FMN continuing education credit. The event is free but registration is required. 

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