Virginia Working Landscapes fall workshop: Supporting wildlife in winter

Photo: Lori Scheibe

November 22, 2019
9:00 am – 02:00 pm
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, Virginia

Category: Workshops

Join Virginia Working Landscapes for an informative workshop to learn how to optimize your property to promote habitat for native biodiversity through our coldest winter months!

The morning will include lectures from:

  • Dr. Amy Johnson, Virginia Working Landscapes, on how to support overwintering birds.
  • Dr. T’ai Roulston, Blandy Experimental Farm, on what pollinators need during the winter months and how you can help.

The afternoon will include a field trip to (address provided closer to event date for registered attendees) to see some of the winter habitat features discussed in the presentations.

More details coming soon….but don’t wait to reserve your seat! Event is Free but registration is required.

Please note: No pets allowed at SCBI


Lead and contribute to FMN Chapter committees in 2019 and 2020

Photo: Ana Ka’Ahanui

From President Joe Gorney to Chapter Members,

As a volunteer organization, our chapter succeeds based on the collective efforts of many people participating in an array of service activities. The same is true of the management of our chapter. At the end of this year, we will have a significant number of people rotating out of Board positions. Please consider serving on the board as an officer or committee chair, or as a member of a committee.  Your perspectives and ideas are enormously valuable.  Serving in one of these positions would take only a few hours each month but would be invaluable in helping our chapter to thrive.  And all of these hours count toward your service hours! Please submit your expression of interest to Fairfax Chapter Virginia Master Naturalists. Don’t delay!

Listed below is a description of the respective officer and committee chair positions. And if you’re not ready to be an officer or committee chair but would still like to help, you can still be a part of a committee as a member.  (We would especially like to have a diversity specialist under the Outreach Chair).

Secretary (officer)

Solicits board meeting agenda items; posts meeting agendas; takes and records meeting minutes; maintains chapter bylaws and handbook. Keeps us all accountable and working together!

Treasurer (officer)

Maintains the budget and accounting records; produces a monthly financial report; pays bills; collects dues; presents the financial records for audit; coordinates with committee chairs to produce the annual budget. Allows us to spend our money wisely to accomplish our mission!

Hospitality  (committee chair)

Coordinates general member meetings and basic training graduation activities including logistics, activities, and refreshments; orders and manage sales and/or distribution of fundraising items and logo items if needed. A welcoming presence at our activities!

Outreach (committee chair)

Promotes the chapter and its mission through outreach activities; manages booth staffing for outreach events; opens the eyes of the community to our mission and our work; helps ensure a diverse membership; motivates others to become members. Keep our good works in the forefront!

Continuing Education (committee chair)

Identifies, solicits, and approves continuing education proposals based on the criteria provided by VMN; notifies members of approved opportunities; maintains a catalog/calendar of opportunities.  Help us all to stay motivated and sharp!

Membership (committee chair)

Leads a small, dedicated, and experienced team; responsible for maintaining FMN and VMN membership directories; tracks and issues service awards and certifications; serves as member of Student Selection Committee.  Help welcome new members and foster camaraderie among current members!

Service (committee chair)

Approves service project proposals using established criteria; notifies members of opportunities; maintains a diverse catalog of opportunities. Help us all to serve our community!

Communications (committee chair)

Maintains the chapter public website, newsletters, social media, and chapter email account. Leads three or four strategically-minded people who communicate effectively and enjoy keeping all of us in the know. Earn hours from the comfort of your home while connecting us all to the chapter!

Ecopsychology-a talk on the intersection of us and nature

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Rust Library
380 Old Waterford Rd NW, Leesburg, VA 20176
Saturday, 5 October 2019
1 – 2pm

Dr. Laura Rodriguez will speak on Ecopsychology: From Nature as Other to Us as Nature.

Every day you hear or read news stories describing the ecological devastation of our time. You question, can I, one person in 7.7 billion, do anything to turn this tide? Yes, you can! Like a flock of starlings swooping, diving, and wheeling in the sky, you are vital to the forward movement of the whole.

The emerging field of Ecopsychology can point the way of individual thought and action which benefits the whole. Through Ecopsychology, as we expand our concept of “us as nature,” we can create change in the narrative of disconnection with nature and foster an ecological ethic of care for our communities and the world.

Dr. Rodriguez is on the faculty of Viridis Graduate Institute, an international graduate school for Ecopsychology. She has also spoken on this topic many times including at Science Alliance for Valuing the Environment, Lourdes University, OH; Mercy Health – St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Multidisciplinary Medical Grand Rounds, OH; and others. This program is presented by the Virginia Master Naturalists, Banshee Reeks Chapter.

World Migratory Bird Day film festival, Oct. 23rd

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir.

NVCC Annandale Campus, Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center (CE) Forum and Theater
8333 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22003
Saturday, 23 October 2019
9am – 3pm

9:30 a.m. – “ALBATROSS” – CE Theater
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Secret Life of Birds and Bees: Raptor Lecture, Live Owls – CE Forum
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Exhibitor Hall – CE Seminar Rooms
12:45 p.m. – Panel Discussion – CE Forum
1:30 p.m. “BIRD OF PREY” – CE Theater

Synopsis of the Fairfax County Recycling Program presented September 16th

On Monday, September 16th, Erica Carter, the Fairfax County Recycling Coordinator spoke to the Fairfax Master Naturalists at their quarterly meeting. The bottom line: Recycling in Fairfax County is very complicated! One reason it is complicated is that Fairfax County has standards for what can and cannot be recycled in their facilities based on what products its brokers will purchase. However, curbside haulers who use different brokers or buyers for their recycled items may have different standards. A RESIDENT MUST CHECK WITH THEIR OWN CURBSIDE HAULER TO DETERMINE THE STANDARDS FOR THEIR RECYCLING. E.g., American Disposal (call (703) 368-0500) and Republic do not use Fairfax County standards because they have their own buyers for processed recycling.

Glass breaks and contaminates other recycling so it is no longer accepted in County single stream recycling. Large purple containers are located near many County government centers where glass is collected for recycling.  Learn more here.

Any kind of clothes hangers, hoses, cords and plastic bags are huge problems for the recycling facilities because they catch in the machines and must be detangled by hand. In addition, dirty diapers, takeout food containers and shredded paper cause other problems.  PLEASE DON’T RECYCLE THESE ITEMS!

Good news about the receptacles for plastic bags located outside of grocery stores!  Bubble wrap, plastic packing tear off balloons, and zip-lock bags which are clean and dry are also acceptable.

Buyers seek out recycled plastic when oil prices are high because it is less expensive than making new plastic; when oil prices are low recycled plastic is less in demand.

Fairfax County is currently recycling about 50% of the items that come to its two transfer stations. There is no landfill in Fairfax County. Unrecyclable material is incinerated and the resulting energy is used to provide electricity to 80,000 homes.

FMN Members are big winners in VMN photo contest

“Handsome Meadow Katydid,” First Place in the Macro/Night Category. Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

At the 2019 VMN Statewide Conference and Training held 20-22 September 2019, VMN Program Director Michelle Prysby announced the 2019 photo contest winners.

FMN photographers won in three categories!

“Chincoteague Sunrise,” Third Place in the Virginia Landscapes Category. Photo by Fred Siskind.


“Snakeball,”  First Place in the Virginia Wildlife Category.  Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir.






South Run Rec Center “Erosion Knoll” needs gardening TLC volunteers

South Run Recreation Center
7550 Reservation Drive, Springfield VA
1st and 3rd Wednesdays from 9-11 am
2nd Saturdays from 9-12 for May-October and 12-3 pm from November – April

Enthusiastic and energetic volunteer gardener at South Run is seeking like-minded individuals to provide input on erosion control native plantings for a fairly small incline. Ideally, these volunteers would supervise the planting and maintenance of this area once the plants are obtained. South Run has dedicated landscape volunteer days monthly as shown above but knowledgeable supervision is much needed.

Interested? Contact Sally Berman via [email protected].  Planning volunteers may meet with Sally outside of scheduled volunteer times.

Those who just want to volunteer occasionally can go to

Those that want to volunteer regularly go to:

Native Plants Intern needed at Meadowlark Botanical Garden

Meadowlark Botanical Garden
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna, VA 22182

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, a NOVA Park, is seeking a paid intern to support its work with native plants and conservation gardening.
Meadowlark has several native plant collections including the Potomac Valley Collection (PVC) and the Virginia Native Wetlands Collection (VNW). The gardens within the PVC are based on biogeography and floristic composition within the Potomac River basin. The VNW includes species that occur within the state as a political unit.
The Native Plants Intern will gain experience:
• Managing and communicating with volunteers;
• Participating in all aspects of horticultural duties-weeding, mulching, planting, propagation;
• Maintaining databases of bloom time, plant records, etc.
This position is a paid, two day a week internship from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. If interested, please email Keith Tomlinson, Park Manager, at [email protected].

Community Associations Supporting the Local Ecosystem

Article by Plant NOVA Natives

Homeowner and condominium associations make many of the decisions that will determine the future of the birds and butterflies of Northern Virginia. Not only do community associations set standards for landscaping on private property, they also own and control large amounts of community property, including much of what is left of the undeveloped land in Northern Virginia and the environmentally sensitive areas along many streams. In recent years, the managers and Board members of more and more community associations have started adopting practices that both increase home values and support our local ecosystem.

Each community has its own needs and standards, but there are some common themes. For example, most developments have lawn areas that require heavy inputs of chemicals and labor to maintain. Often these lawns came into existence not because they were needed but because sowing turf grass was the fastest way for the builders to prevent soil erosion after the area was regraded. In the long run, erosion and stormwater control would be managed better by naturalized areas. Excess lawns can be thoughtfully converted simply by planting more ornamental native trees and shrubs along the edges and gradually allowing them to fill in. Another common situation is lawn that is being mowed right down to the edge of a stream or pond, which results in contamination of the waterways from runoff. It is a simple thing to create a buffer of native plants, ideally 100 feet on either side, though any buffer is better than none. Yet another example is invasive plant management, a problem that might not have existed when the community was first developed but which by now has become an unavoidable component of responsible land stewardship.

Some communities enjoy a more relaxed look, while others prefer a more formal appearance to their landscaping. Either way, there are many opportunities for helping songbirds and turtles without any major change to the overall aesthetics. Among the hundreds of species of Virginia native plants that are available from nurseries, there are ample examples of those that conform to a conventional look. Healthy lawns can be maintained by using organic materials to enrich the soil and reduce the need for chemical applications.

To help residents and decision-makers in community associations explore the many options that are available to them, the Plant NOVA Natives campaign is hosting a series of short symposiums, starting on October 4 and November 2, which will be repeated over time to allow participation by representatives from the thousands of HOAs and condo associations in Northern Virginia. Details and registration can be found at The campaign has also created a website section that outlines ideal practices, local resources and many examples of what local communities have already accomplished, often in a budget-neutral method. It can be much cheaper, for example, to control erosion by the strategic use of native plants than by digging trenches or building walls.

Volunteer at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court
Vienna, VA 22182
Any morning Monday through Thursday

Calling all gardeners! Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, a NOVA Park, needs volunteers to supports its 95 acres of ornamental display gardens and native plant collections for the enjoyment and education of our community.

To volunteer any morning Monday through Thursday in any of the ornamental display gardens:
-Email Tammy Burke at [email protected]

To volunteer Tuesday or Wednesday with native plants (Potomac Valley and Native Wetlands Collections) : Email Keith Tomlinson at [email protected]