FMN Spotlight – Virginia Native Plant Society

FMN once again flicks on the spotlight – this time to shine it on longtime Stewardship opportunity provider, Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and FMN Alan Ford, our chapter point of contact for VNPS.

Alan getting to the root of a problem – photo Carol Wolter

Spotlighting our partners and the opportunities they offer creates membership awareness and associates a name with an organization. This also affords FMN a chance to thank them for their tireless contributions over the years.

VNPS has 12 chapters supporting 2750+ members state wide and has endeavored for over thirty years in encouraging appreciation for and promoting engagement with the natural wonders of Virginia. Alan is President of the Potowmack Chapter, which is involved with numerous local and state program initiatives. Activities sponsored and funded by the VNPS include unstinting support for the development and publication of the new Flora of Virginia Project; supporting the Virginia Department of Natural Heritage in their missions, including plant identification, land acquisition and protection; and various educational programs for their membership and the public.
Six Fairfax Master Naturalist’s participated in the inaugural Flora of Virginia Ambassadors certification program in 2024, which was open to all VMN chapters (FMN code E002: Flora of Virginia Ambassadors – – VMN). The next FOV Ambassadors program is projected to convene in spring 2025.

Alan with Lisa Bright (Co-founder & Director Emerita Earth Sangha) sorting native grasses – photo courtesy Alan Ford

The Potowmack Chapter, co-founded the statewide VNPS organization along with the Prince William Wildflower Society. It is the largest VNPS chapter, representing 780 members in the counties of Arlington and Fairfax; cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church. Being the largest chapter in the most urbanized region, poses some challenges on programs and outreach. The chapter is involved with various urban landscape efforts and strives to alleviate the challenges of park funding and invasive plant management.

FMN’s service code for working on VNPS activities is ‘S231: VNPS field work including Green Spring Gardens service — VA Native Plant Society’. This service opportunity provides local stewardship activities for organizing and participating in native plant rescues; assistance with maintaining the Green Spring Gardens Native Plant Trail; and other stewardship and educational programs. VNPS provides lecture presentations, nature walks, and other activities to help the public learn more about local native flora. VNPS provides FMN with many training and volunteer opportunities.  Their programs and field trips are amazing.  VNPS programs emphasize public education, protection of endangered species, native habitat preservation, and encourage appropriate landscape use of native plants. 

Please contact Alan Ford, Potowmack Chapter President, [email protected] for more information on how to get involved as an FMN volunteer or directly in VNPS.
Alan, a former computer science professor at American University, has been an FMN member since 2008 and has accumulated over 2500 FMN service hours, as well as, thousands of hours in service to outdoor parks in Northern Virginia and surrounding communities.

Home Page – VNPS Potowmack Chapter

Alan Ford contributed content and photos for this article.
Marilyn Schroeder contributed the spark.
Cover Photo – Green Springs Gardens, courtesy of FCPA.