Riverbend fern walk, led by Kit Sheffield

Sunday, June 23
8:30-11:30 a.m.

On this hike in Riverbend Park, Kit will discuss the characteristics that differentiate ferns from other organisms and talk about what to look for when identifying ferns. The group will cover about two miles at a moderate pace on trails that are well maintained but may be muddy if there has been recent flooding. Expect to see and identify fifteen+ species along the way. Learn to identify Christmas fern, to distinguish between cinnamon fern and interrupted fern, what ferns to avoid in your garden, and why scouring rushes are now included in the ferns.

Kit Sheffield is the Membership and IT Coordinator for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and Vice President of the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists (FMN). With a passion for pteridophytes, he leads fern hikes for PATC, FMN, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Audubon Naturalist Society.

VNPS programs are free and open to the public.
However, you must register to attend. Please click here to REGISTER.
To CANCEL your registration or ask a QUESTION, please email [email protected]

Fairfax Food Council Presents: Indoor Gardening, July 16th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22030
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
7 – 8:30 pm

Ryan Pirault, Founder of Livity Works LLC, will be sharing his techniques, knowledge and experience in this introductory class on “Whole House Permaculture.” Building a culture of permanent agriculture and sustainability is something all of us can participate in even if we live in a tiny cramped apartment. Take this class to learn about growing mushrooms, sprouts, and other healthy food inside your home or apartment. Click here to register.

Native Bees: Why they matter and how to support them, June 22nd

Brambleton Library
22850 Brambleton Plaza, Brambleton, VA
Saturday, 22 June 2019
12 – 2 pm

At this Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sponsored event, you’ll learn about the many fascinating and bee-utiful native bees that live in our gardens and the plants that support them. You will get a close-up look at Mason and Leafcutter Bees, discuss some simple ways that you can attract native bees in your garden, and help them thrive. Hosted by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, RSVP here.

2019 Fairfax County ESLI Environmental Education Conference, June 22nd

Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Saturday, 22 June 2019
9 am – 3 pm

Connect with high school and college students from around Virginia, DC and Maryland to learn about ways you can get involved with environmental education initiatives in your school and community. Learn effective environmental education games and teaching skills that you can use to teach kids in your community, and enjoy a free sustainable meal. This one-day conference will be held on June 22, 2019 and is located at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, VA. The event is free for students. Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.eslileaders.org to learn more, and click here to register.

Fairfax Food Council Presents: Gardening with Deer, Squirrels, and Other Hungry Creatures, June 18th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22030
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
7 – 8:30pm

Are you feeding wildlife instead of the people your garden produce was intended to nourish? You’re invited to hear Adria Bordas give a presentation on preventing deer, squirrels and other creatures from overwhelming your garden. The last half of this workshop will be a roundtable discussion of local gardeners sharing tips and techniques for making your garden a less easy target for birds and four-footed filchers. Click here to register by June 14th.

Rain Barrel Workshop, June 15th

Fairlington Community Center
3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA
Saturday, 15 June 2019
10am – 12pm

Rain barrels purchased from retail sources can be expensive. As part of a regional initiative, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District offers build-your-own rain barrel workshops and distributes low-cost rain barrels to Fairfax County citizens. You will learn how to install and maintain a rain barrel and take one home! By installing a rain barrel at your home you will provide your plants with water they will love, save money and water, and protect the Chesapeake Bay! The workshop is free to attend and learn more about rain barrels, and building a rain barrel for you to take home is $55. Learn more about the program and register to attend this workshop.

Stream monitoring and stream clean up events, June 15th, 22nd and 29th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Potomac Cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center
8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring MD
Saturday, 15 June 2019
9 am-12 pm

Join Potomac Conservancy, The Office of Congressman Jamie Raskin, and Montgomery Parks in a stream and park cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring, MD! They’ll be collecting trash, beautifying the community, and fighting for clean water on a beautiful summer day! Potomac Conservancy will provide trash grabbers, gloves, bags, and all other materials for a successful cleanup. Register here.

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park Monitoring Workshop
Leigh Mill Rd., Great Falls, VA
Saturday, 22 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) as they discover aquatic life in Difficult Run! This official NVSWCD stream monitoring workshop covers watershed health, what macroinvertebrates tell us about stream quality, and what you can do to prevent pollution in your local stream. This workshop will also help to prepare you to become a certified stream monitor. Registration is limited. Send questions to Ashley Palmer and RSVP here.

Prince William Water Quality Monitoring
Powells Creek, Along 15601 Northgate Dr., Montclair, VA
Saturday, 29 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Buck Arvin and the Merrimac Master Naturalist Team in monitoring the Powell’s Creek in the Montclair area. Residents are welcome to come support the data collection of this stream and learn more about the water quality in their local stream.
For directions RSVP to Buck Arvin at [email protected].

Riverbend Park: A story of abundant opportunities to volunteer

Tom Blackburn

When I graduated from the Master Naturalist training program about five years ago, Riverbend Park was the first place I looked for volunteer opportunities.  Although I volunteer with other parks and organizations, Riverbend has long been my favorite place to work.  Over the years, I have helped with kayak trips, astronomy programs, Bluebell Festivals, Native American Festivals, summer camps, scout merit badges, educational hikes, and trash cleanups.  I even created and led “Moonshine and Mayhem” hikes, with guidance from Park staff, during which I interpreted the history of the park during the Prohibition Era.  But my most rewarding time at the park has been as a School Programs Lead Volunteer (E 110).  

Riverbend hosts numerous classes of second through fourth graders who come to learn about the park’s natural resources, Native Americans, ecology, and the environment.  School Programs Lead Volunteers have a unique opportunity to open students’ eyes and imaginations to the natural world and the cultural history of the area.  Grade school students have a sense of wonder and excitement about the world that inspires me every time I lead a class.  Their enthusiasm as they learn to shoot a bow and arrow, figure out why sand is deposited along a trail, squeal over frogs and snakes, or learn life cycles of animals and plants always leaves me even more energized after the class than when I begin it.  I end each session convinced that I benefited from the class at least as much as the students.   

Working at Riverbend is particularly enjoyable because of the park’s welcoming and appreciative staff.  Rita Peralta, the Natural Resources Manager; Jordan Libera, the Senior Interpreter Program Manager; Valeria Espinoza, the Volunteer Coordinator; Julie Gurnee, the Visitor Center Manager; and the Interpreters are all committed to their tasks and a pleasure to work with.  

Numerous other FMNers have found Riverbend to be a rewarding place to volunteer.  To name just a few, Kris Lansing and Robin Duska lead bird walks (C106); Nancy Yinger, Jean Skolnick, Jerry Peters, Doreen Peters, and Janice Meyer conduct citizen science surveys of wildflowers, salamanders and dragonflies (C106); and Marilyn Kupetz provides care for the park’s animals (S182).  Other FMNs have helped with eliminating invasives and planting native plants at the park.  

It’s easy to begin volunteering at Riverbend.  Valeria Espinoza coordinates volunteers and sends periodic messages about volunteer opportunities.  If you contact her at [email protected], she will tell you how to get on her list.  And the Park  is accepting applications for School Programs Lead Volunteers through September, at https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179279. 

Come volunteer at Riverbend–you’ll be glad you did!

“Trees to Products” Environmental Education Conference, July 8-11

Best Western
124 Woodland Dr SW, Wise, VA 24293
Monday 8 July-Thursday 11 July 2019

The Trees to Products teachers’ program is designed to provide teachers with factual and credible information about Virginia’s hardwood forests. These concepts are linked to the Virginia Standards of Learning and provide training in Project Learning Tree activities. A variety of hardwood forest management techniques and forest products industries will be examined in detail. The goal is to offer teachers an in-the-field tour of sustainable forest management techniques.

Teachers will tour key forest-industry sites to learn about sustainable forest management. They will also learn about how forests provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, and the importance of forests in view-shed and water-quality efforts.  Participants will see how trees are converted into a variety of everyday products.

The Trees to Products program is designed to correlate with the Virginia Standards of Learning for grades K – 12. It awards 30 hours of professional development credits for participants, along with Project Learning Tree certification. Project Learning Tree is a multidisciplinary environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation for educators of students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.

Participants pay a $25 registration fee for the four-day conference. The costs of all meals, transportation, and lodging are provided by the sponsors, with the exception of transportation to the conference headquarters at the Best Western in Wise, Va.

“We are pleased to offer this program for teachers again this year,” said Bill Worrell, Extension agent for forestry and natural resources in Southwest Virginia. “This is an excellent opportunity for teachers to get an in-the-field tour of sustainable forest-management techniques, as well as professional development credits, at a very low cost.”

Conference agenda and registration form can be found here. For more information or to register, contact Bill Worrell at (276) 889-8056 or [email protected].

Job opportunity: Community education pilot called Watch the Green Grow

The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking an individual to manage a new community education and social marketing pilot project called Watch the Green Grow. The successful candidate will work across agency divisions to implement and evaluate the pilot project at stream valley parks across Fairfax County.

Salary: $20.00-$25.00 Hourly non-merit, benefits eligible (medical coverage is available with a portion of the premium covered by the county)

Location: Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway) and various field locations

Schedule: This position is scheduled to work 20 to 30 hours per week with a minimum of 1039 hours per year but not to exceed 1,560 hours per calendar year. There is no guarantee of a minimum number of scheduled hours (daily, weekly, monthly) Weekend and evening work hours should be expected.  Position funding only lasts 1 year July 1, 2019- June 30, 2020.

Job Description

  • Design & deliver messages to various audiences that target park neighbors with wildlife friendly messages including encroachment prevention.
  • Design and develop associated media, resources and trainings to drive implementation of the Watch the Green Grow program.
  • Build collaborations with current and new partners
  • Manage project budget and supplies.
  • Recruit, supervise and train volunteers and rover staff as needed
  • Market and conduct outreach programs to multiple audiences including Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences for schools and presentations to neighborhood associations.
  • Manage crowdsourcing app reports and promote reporting among participants and community partners.
  • Evaluate success of efforts and provide written report at end of pilot study


BA/BS in resource management, education, communication/ marketing or related field or equivalent education and experience combination.

  • Demonstrated success in program development or design.
  • Familiarity with ArcGIS mapping a plus.
  • Strong relationship management and communication skills. Ability to relate to field staff and community program partners, and to develop trusting relationships quickly.
  • Strong management skills and the ability to motivate, excite, and educate both internal and external resources. Ability to inspire others.
  • A strong work ethic coupled with an enthusiastic and passionate approach to one’s work. The successful candidate will be a highly energetic, hands-on individual who can meet deadlines and produce products.
  • Willing to travel in-county, and work with a team and network of field staff, volunteers and community partners.

How to apply: email cover letter and resume to [email protected]