Invite Flying Squirrels to Your Backyard with a Feeding Box, October 23rd

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority, Flying Squirrel in feeding box

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale, Virginia

Program fee for two people: $15.00
Extra supply fee: $25.00

Click here for more information and registration details. 

Flying squirrels are just as common as grey squirrels in our area. As they are nocturnal, flying squirrels often glide under our radar. From November through March, they are easy to welcome to backyards with large trees.

Families can learn proven strategies to encourage these amazing native flying squirrels to your treed backyard. A naturalist will show you how to recognize their presence and guide you in assembling a feeding box to take home. Two attendees are permitted per registration (one adult and one child over age 4 or two adults). This is an outdoor program. Please bring your own hammer and Phillips-head screwdriver. A $25 supply cost will be included at check out. The program fee for two people is $15.

“Make Your Own Flying Squirrel Feeding Box” is on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Hidden Oaks.

Plant NOVA Trees — One Year On

September marks the first anniversary of the launch of Plant NOVA Trees, a regionwide effort by over a hundred local organizations and thousands of individuals to promote native trees and shrubs in Northern Virginia. There is no regional tree planting agency that can do the job for us. Rather, it is up to each individual to look around to see how they can contribute, at home, at work, or on common land. Plant NOVA Trees connects people to the resources they need to do that.

There are many ways to participate. The simplest is to identify every appropriate site and plant young trees or shrubs there now, preferably canopy trees if there is room. They may not look like much the first couple years, but soon they will grow and provide shade and cooling for humans as well as shelter and food for our birds and butterflies. Information on how to choose and plant a native tree or shrub is available on the Plant NOVA Trees website. Fifty volunteers have visited local garden centers to hang thousands of tags on the native trees, making them easy to identify. (The same volunteers have been putting red stickers on all the native plants in those garden centers for several years.)

Each of our local jurisdictions and park services has tree planting plans for public lands. For example, the Prince William Soil and Conservation District has been working with 3rd and 4th graders to plant trees on school grounds. Kudos go especially to Purcellville, which planted 118,100 trees last year on former farmland that is owned by the town.

Members of local communities have also gotten together to plant trees in their common areas and to help residents plant on their own properties. So far, residents have self-reported 7850 trees and shrubs  on the Plant NOVA Trees website form. The Virginia Department of Forestry is collecting these figures as it works to meet its goal of 600,000 planted in Northern Virginia by 2025. This number is intended to help our region meet its obligation to protect the Chesapeake Bay, since runoff from roofs, roads and empty lawns is causing damage downstream, and trees are nature’s tool for capturing water. Those who appreciate our waterways should give careful thought to how they can contain stormwater on their own properties before it rushes off to erode our streams and dump sediment and pollutants into the Bay.

Despite all these efforts, Northern Virginia is gradually losing tree canopy. Multiple factors contribute to tree death. Some are hard to change on a local level, such as the stress on trees from climate change. Others are absolutely within our control, such as poor planting and mulching practices or the sacrifice of trees for more roads, buildings, and park amenities. Each native tree lost is one less home for birds and other wildlife as our local ecosystem suffers its death from a thousand cuts.

Invasive vines (as opposed to the beneficial native vines) pose another important threat to trees, and this has become one of the foci of the Plant NOVA Trees campaign. Volunteers for the new Tree Rescuers program spot trees that are at risk from English Ivy, Asian Wisteria, or other invasive non-native vines and drop off literature with the owners to alert them to the easily-mitigated problem. While they are at it, the volunteers count the trees at risk so we can get a more precise handle on where resources should be concentrated. So far, over two hundred volunteers have alerted 799 residents to 3491 trees at risk in 4.2 square miles of residential properties. In addition, they have counted almost 22,000 trees at risk in 3.3 square miles of non-residential areas. The data collection is too preliminary to make an accurate extrapolation, but it would appear that the total number of trees in need of rescue in Northern Virginia’s 1,300 square miles may be in the millions.

There are numerous opportunities around Northern Virginia to help control these invasive vines by cutting them near the ground. Over 3500 trees have been reported as saved so far. Besides saving the trees on their own properties, volunteers can organize the work on common land within their communities or join the invasives management programs of the various park services, listed on the Plant NOVA Trees “Rescuing Trees” page. Residents and communities can obtain a permit to clip the vines on VDOT property. In general, though, the resources to control invasives on government-owned land and easements will need to come from the governments themselves (and ultimately from the taxpayers.) It is also critical that everyone stop planting invasive plants to begin with, not only the invasive vines but all the other invasive non-native landscaping plants such as Bradford Pears and Burning Bush that escape from our properties into natural areas.

Businesses have been helping with the regional tree campaign in several ways. Local garden centers are promoting native trees and shrubs in honor of Celebrate Native Trees Week (Sept 26-Oct 2). Landscaping companies are increasingly choosing native species,  and a few have started to offer invasive plant removal services. Any company could educate its employees and customers and provide financial support to neighborhoods that need help with their open spaces.

Those businesses that control property can plant and preserve native trees there, which in some places may mean tearing up concrete to make room.

So what can you do to support the native tree campaign? Plant NOVA Trees is essentially an educational organization. The success of this initiative depends on the individual efforts of residents  across the region. So what can you do to support the native tree campaign? Plant NOVA Trees is essentially an educational organization. The success of this initiative depends on the individual efforts of residents across the region. There is no shortage of ideas on how to get involved, whether where you live or work or on a wider scale. Find these ideas on the Plant NOVA Trees website.

Bluebirds at Langley Fork Park Continue to Thrive

Feature photo: Bluebird nestling residents of Box 6 (May 21, 2022). What are they thinking?

Article and photo by FMN Stephen Tzikas

The 2022 Bluebird box monitoring season at Langley Fork Park in McLean was my second year, and first as its trail leader. The trail leader duties came unexpectedly, but it successfully concluded thanks to the existing and new trail monitors who helped me with this success. Although I wrote an article last year on the extraordinarily successful season at Langley Fork Park, in part due to the cicada bounty, I was pleasantly surprised that this year’s Bluebird fledglings approached very close to the number we had last year.

In 2021 we nurtured 63 total protected birds which included 26 Bluebirds. In 2022 we had 57 total protected birds which included 24 Bluebirds. This can be contrasted to the 5 years prior to that in which Langley Fork Park monitoring succeeded with about 40 protected birds per year which included about 5 Bluebirds a year. Since our efforts are on behalf of the Virginia Bluebird Society and the Bluebirds themselves, having about a 5-fold increase in Bluebirds these past couple years was phenomenal.

As trail leader, I had a closer look at the total 7-year record of data at Langley Fork Park in order to determine if any changes in the location of the Bluebird boxes were necessary to increase the effectiveness of the Bluebird program even further at Langley Fork Park. This data is part of the Nest-Watch database administered by Cornell University. I found the record-keeping in the years prior to 2021 to have some gaps, but this did not detract from the large increases recorded for the Bluebirds at the park. Nonetheless, the gaps were an interesting comparison that should not be ignored for a program’s quality control. Monitoring in prior years were not always on a weekly cadence, and it was not certain if preventive maintenance was rigorous. While I could infer final fledgling counts on what was recorded, these numbers could have been a bit higher and a good maintenance regimen could have made a nest box habitat resilient for an immediate welcoming of a new set of Bluebird parents during critical times for egg laying. This is contrasted to a strict weekly check on the birds in 2021 and 2022, and immediate attention to issues of concerns: wasp nests, ants, predators. For Bluebird monitors, I can’t emphasis enough how important these matters are. Bluebird monitoring trails should have an adequate number of team monitors to keep pace and avoid burdens with scheduling for a trail that has too few monitors.

With this analysis I did have enough data to make some conclusions for future planning. In the past 2 years, 3 of the park’s 10 boxes had successful Bluebird nestlings, while in the entire past 7 years, 6 of the 10 boxes were home to successful Bluebird nesting attempts. Considering that Tree Swallows are also a protected bird and the main successful competitor of the Bluebird boxes, our Bluebird attempts are good.   But can we do better? These are decisions for our trail that may help others in their trail decision-making too.

Before the close of the 2022 season, our team suggested that moving boxes 1, 4, 7, 9 might help the Bluebirds, because currently they had some issues with predators and intense competition.

The data showed that boxes 1, 2, 5, and 9 never had Bluebirds.   We also have the opportunity to add an 11th Bluebird box which will be determined at a later date. While boxes 2 and 5 may never have had Bluebirds, they are in good locations and have other active protected birds nesting here. These will not be relocated for now.

  • Box 1 is in a fairly hidden area. By moving it closer to the parking lot it may get more attention by the Bluebirds.  There is some playground equipment here, but on closer inspection it is for adults to exercise who are not likely to interfere with the box.  The location is more bushy, so it may also attract more House Wrens too.
  • Box 4 has had occasions of broken eggs from intense competition.  Moving it from the corner of the field to a more bushy area closer to some benches could improve it.
  • Box 7 may be too close to a tree with snake predators. Moving to a more bushy area a few feet away may help.
  • Box 9 is in a fairly active area with baseball activity, and relocating it closer to Box 8 may help. The advantage of the new location is that it is slightly less active and has more trees, but it is not necessarily a suggested 100 foot separation from Box 8.

The 2023 season will evaluate these adjustments.

Crawl Into Fall With Bug Fest at Lewinsville Historic House – now on October 22nd

Photo: FMN Kate Luisa

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022 (rain date due to Hurricane Ian)
10:00AM – 2:00PM

Lewinsville Park
1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, Virginia 22101

Click here for registration details.

Lewinsville Park is featuring Bug Fest on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Come celebrate all things bugs with a creepy-crawly adventure! This event is fun for the whole family Play games and activities including insect safaris, explore live insects, inspect insect collections, log rolling, soil stations, bug walks, critter talks, bug experiments, and make your own bug. Use technology to explore the world of insects. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.

 

Kite Flyers Reminded of Dangers of String, Filament Left Behind

Photo: FCPA, Susan Laume

Article from the Fairfax County Park Authority, Park News September 7, 2022

Flying a kite seems simple, but there are strings attached to this fun activity. If you fly a kite and leave behind kite string filament, you may be responsible for injuring or trapping wildlife. You may also impede park maintenance and damage equipment, and you may even potentially injure people who get tangled in kite string.

This summer, there have been groups and individuals flying kites above Laurel Hill Park, the Central Green and Laurel Hill Golf Club. Generally, kite flying is a welcomed activity and fairly benign; however, over the past few months, several incidents have occurred that cause concern.

Kite string filament is being found in trees and on the ground. Park patrons, wildlife managers and Park Authority staff are regularly documenting harm to birds, reptiles and other wildlife caught in kite line. FCPA site maintenance expenditures are rising due to kite string being wrapped up in mowers and other site-specific vehicles. Animal Control has been called on occasion to free animals trapped by the line and tend to their injuries. Even people can be at risk of injury while pulling the string out of trees or running into kite filament dangling from trees.

So how can you assist in solving this problem? The Fairfax County Park Authority is in the process of developing signage to communicate kite-flying rules and safety information, providing more trash cans in the area, and trying to contact any groups or individuals who may be flying kites at Laurel Hill Park.

Signage will remind groups or individuals flying kites that they cannot undertake this activity in any park if it is going to cause littering or damage to county property. Those with kites need to fly them in open areas only. They should fly them no closer than 75 feet to trees, power lines, light poles, parking, people or facilities. The use of monofilament line for kite string is prohibited. And, they must dispose of all kites or kite string if not taking it with them when they leave the park.

Once signs are in place, those witnessing violations of the kite-flying rules will be asked to contact police at the non-emergency number 703-691-2131.

For more information, call the Park Authority Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.

Community Entranceway Landscaping

Article, Photos, and Images: Courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives: Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association 

The Audubon-at-Home program in partnership with Plant NOVA Natives obtained a grant from Dominion Energy to award seven matching mini-grants to community associations for converting their entranceway landscaping to all Virginia native plants. The mini-grants stipulated that the landscaping be designed so that the community’s standard landscape company could maintain it. The projects were installed in the fall of 2021. The “after” photos are from Spring 2022. Below, the organizer from Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association shared some thoughts about their experience that may help other communities.

Note: Any community or individual in Northern Virginia who wish to use their property for wildlife sanctuary is encouraged to invite an Audubon-at-Home volunteer to walk their property with them and strategize.

In Fairfax County, The Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association participated in the program.

From the Water’s Edge Organizers:

It is so exciting to see these plants come back this year! We have several signs that you will notice in the pics. Besides the Native Plants sign, there are some smaller signs as well. The smaller green one requests that the plants not be sprayed. There are also small signs with numbers. The numbers correlate to the educational piece, which is the QR codes in multiple places, which invite people to learn more about the plant that is there. This is something we said we would have by this spring. We are still looking into other educational opportunities for the community and will take any chance to share the work that has been done and the benefits associated with planting natives. Since the entrance is located on a walking path in the area, the QR codes are placed so that anyone walking by has the opportunity to learn more about any of the plants. On our part, having this done and engaging with the work has prompted us to consider only natives in other parts of the neighborhood as trees need to be replaced, beds need to be rebuilt, and our own properties need plantings. The invasives that were in the area, such as the lilies, have been difficult to remove, and they came back in full force this year. Hands Dirty came back to remove more of them, and we will continue to monitor the need for removal. During bouts of hot and/or dry weather, we are watering by hand or hiring the landscaping company to water the plants at the entrance as well as other native plantings we are working to establish.

Additional articles about this program and participants:
Welcoming Visitors with Native Plant Landscaping — Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (audubonva.org)
https://www.plantnovanatives.org/entranceway-landscaping

Plant List:

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatam ‘Shenandoah’
Southern Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
Pennsylvania Sedge) (Carex pensylvanica)
Wood Aster
Woodland Phlox (Phlox diviracata) ‘Sherwood Purple’
Native azalea
Meadow Anemone
American Strawberrybush (Euonymyous americanus)
Aromatic Sumac (Rhus aromatica)
Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) ‘Emerald Pink’
Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
Black-eyed Susan
Culver’s Root
False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)
Mountain Mint
Beebalm
Sundrops

 

Before Picture and After Pictures:

Courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives: Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association

 

Courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives: Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association

 

Courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives: Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association

 

Courtesy of Plant NOVA Natives: Water’s Edge at Fair Lakes Homeowners Association

 

A Very Berry Universe

Feature photo: Wild strawberries along the Turquoise Trail in Reston, Virginia. Methyl and ethyl butanoate and methyl and ethyl hexanoate make up the bulk of the esters produced by fresh strawberries. In addition to these esters, other volatile compounds are present in specific cultivars that gave them characteristic flavors.

Article and photos by FMN Stephen Tzikas

The next time you consume some blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries and think that their delicious taste is just “out of this world” you may be right.

There is one item in nature that I think future master naturalists, perhaps a few hundred years from now, will recognize anywhere in the universe if they could travel to habitable worlds other than Earth. That item is fruit. While there may be countless numbers of chemical compounds, there is a much more finite number of functional groups. Nature is primarily organic chemistry, though that is not to say inorganic and mineral chemistry are not important, though their classifications are different. Organic functional groups are specific groupings of atoms within molecules that have their own characteristic properties, regardless of the other atoms present in a molecule. Common examples are alcohols, amines, carboxylic acids, ketones, and ethers. In a typical organic chemistry course, there’s about a dozen or two functional groups that are important.

Esters are one of these groups and they are ubiquitous. Esters are derived from carboxylic acids. A carboxylic

MolView’s display of Ethyl Formate, a.k.a. raspberry

acid contains the -COOH group, and in an ester the hydrogen in this group is replaced by a hydrocarbon group of some kind. Esters with low molecular weight are commonly used as fragrances and are found in essential oils. Esters are one of the more useful functional groups, in part because of their low reactivity. In nature, esters are responsible for the aroma of many flowers and fruits.

Some common esters that are present in various fruits include:

  • Raspberry: isobutyl formate & ethyl formate
  • Pear: isobutyl acetate, propyl ethanoate & propyl acetate
  • Apple: pentyl acetate & ethyl pentanoate
  • Apricot: ethyl heptanoate
  • Pineapple: ethyl hexanoate & allyl hexanoate
  • Banana: ethyl butanoate
  • Peach: benzyl acetate

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” was a saying coined by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his famous The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Similarly, one can substitute “esters” for “water” in the famous phrase and one might now be speaking of the Universe. Because life in the universe is very likely to be organic based, it would not be surprising to find fruits on another world with the tastes and smells of Earth fruits, even though they may have a different appearance. Nature loves simplicity, and esters are just that. The simplest ester, methyl formate is relatively abundant in star-forming regions. Ethyl formate has been detected too in space. However, as organic molecules get larger they are more challenging to detect within the interstellar medium. Given that ethyl formate has the taste and smell of raspberries, one might conclude it’s a very berry universe. In fact, when it was first detected in our galaxy, the media posted stories humorously proclaiming the galaxy tastes of raspberries.

There is a lot of chemistry in nature, and many people make a hobby of it. A young child might explore with a chemistry kit, but the creative master naturalist enthusiast could get it involved in the extraction of dyes, oils, and fragrances found from plants in nature, to include the extraction of esters. Those who do this, extract wealth first-hand. I have heard it said in the chemical engineering industry that all wealth is either mined or grown, and everything else is an industry derived from this. If you enjoy exploring chemistry, many online resources exist as well as physical molecule building kits. MolView is an intuitive, open-source web-application for science and learning that can help you visualize molecules. It can be found here: https://molview.org

Chemistry is called the central science. Next time you are walking through nature, think about all the chemistry that is involved for anything that has a taste, smell, or color.

Spotted Lanternfly Watch Underway in Fairfax County

Photo: Spotted Lanternfly, Stephen Ausmus, USDA

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va – While there are still no sightings of the spotted lanternfly in Fairfax County, it is getting closer, and experts are on the lookout for it. This summer the invasive pest was found in nearby Loudoun County. To reduce the spread of this destructive insect the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service has expanded the spotted lanternfly quarantine to include an additional 18 counties and cities.

Fairfax County Forest Pest Management also is asking County residents to help slow the spread of this invasive pest by being vigilant about not moving spotted lanternfly life stages when traveling through known infested areas. The spotted lanternfly is known as a ‘hitchiker’ since it is often found near railroads and inside shipments of items such as produce.

The insect feasts on more than 70 plant species, though its preferred host is the tree-of-heaven. In the Commonwealth the peach, apple, grape, and wine industries are most threatened.

Adults begin laying eggs in September and through the first few hard frosts. The egg masses are covered in a light gray colored wax that looks like mud when it dries.

Spotted lanternfly identification information with links to the quarantine area can be found on the Fairfax County web site Spotted Lanternfly. Please keep an eye out for spotted lanternfly in Fairfax County and report sightings to ReportSLF@fairfaxcounty.gov or to 703-324-5304. The popular mobile app, iNaturalist, is an effective and efficient method for reporting a SLF sighting.

Be Nice to Your Trees

Article and photo by Plant NOVA Trees
On a recent day, driving out of the sun into a wooded community resulted in a temperature drop from 91 to 86 degrees. We all try to stay in the shade in hot weather, competing for the parking spaces under trees. What we may not realize is that tree-lined neighborhoods are cooler not just because of the shade but because the trees themselves act as air conditioners. The basic concept is that it takes energy to turn a liquid into a gas – we see that when boiling water. When a tree sucks up water through its roots and releases it as a gas through its leaves, a process known as transpiration, the energy that causes the water to evaporate is absorbed from the surroundings in the form of heat, and the result is a lower air temperature. This principle of physics also explains why sweating cools our bodies.
Newly planted trees are particularly vulnerable to high heat, so the most basic care needed from us is to provide enough water until they are well established. Seedlings establish quickly, but a landscaper-sized tree needs several years for its root to grow out of the planting hole into the surrounding soil. Our torrential summer storms can fool us into thinking we are getting enough rain, but many of them are brief and don’t even budge the rain gauge. A young tree with brown leaves is a very sad sight. At the same time, overwatering any plant can be worse than underwatering, by depriving the roots of oxygen, so we need to be careful to follow instructions in that regard and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Once a native tree gets established, though, little if any care may be required for the next twenty years or so. Our oaks and other native trees evolved here and are accustomed to the local soils and our variable temperatures and rainfall, although those 91 degree days are adding to the stress of living in an urban or suburban environment. Because older trees may start to develop issues, it is wise to have those that are near houses inspected every two years by an independent consulting arborist, meaning one who has no financial incentive to sell tree care services. They can recommend procedures that may prevent a tree from becoming hazardous. Even better, they may be able to provide reassurance, for instance, that a tree that is leaning a little may be quite stable, despite the dire warnings of a marketing rep from a tree company that is eager to keep its crew busy. Always use the services of arborists certified by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture.)
When future residents are facing temperatures even higher than today’s, a five degree lower temperature may make a life or death difference. Consider what hundred degree weather does to the human body when a prolonged blackout shuts down everyone’s air conditioning. It pays to take good care of our trees. Find out how on the Plant NOVA Trees website.

The Annual Virginia Geological Research Symposium

Feature photo:  At the 2019 Virginia Geological Field Conference, our excursion group investigated the landslide damage of Hurricane Camille in Nelson County. After 50 years this mountainside is still stripped to its bedrock from the floods and landslides caused by the hurricane.

Article and photo by FMN Stephen Tzikas

The annual Virginia Geological Research Symposium is an event I enjoy attending. It is typically held in April and is approved for the FMN Better Impact continuing education requirement. It is presented at a professional level and is a conference from which one can acquire valuable knowledge if working in the associated engineering and science fields. Moreover, because it is Virginia centric and geology related, it’s a great learning venture for Virginia master naturalists.

The last couple of years the symposium was held virtually, but it normally meets in Charlottesville. It is free and hosted by Virginia Energy, Geology and Mineral Resources. This organization serves as Virginia’s geological survey. The last symposium was held on April 21, 2022. At this symposium, the U.S. Geological Survey gave a couple presentations related to the 2011 Mineral, Virginia 5.7 magnitude earthquake felt over a wide area including Fairfax County (something most of us will remember). The quake was further discussed in the context of the more recent 2020 Sparta, North Carolina 5.1 magnitude earthquake. Other presentations given by the U.S. Geological Survey included Earth MRI geophysical datasets along the fall-line in SE Virginia and NE North Carolina, and the origin of Carolina Bays in the Coastal Plain of Virginia.

The College of William and Mary had several presenters too. Topics included:

  • Age and origin of the Albemarle-Nelson mafic-ultramafic complex in the eastern Blue Ridge.
  • Structural geology and geochronology of the Shores Melange in the Piedmont.
  • Geology of the Schuyler 7.5-minute quadrangle in central Virginia and understanding Iapetan rifting, sedimentation, and magmatism.
  • Petrology, structure, and geochronology of the Oakville metavolcanic sequence and the implications for the provenance of the Smith River Allochthon.

Of particular interest to me was the landslide hazard mapping in western Albemarle and Nelson Counties by Virginia Energy. I once attended a geologic field trip to Nelson County, the location hit hard by Hurricane Camille in 1969 through the devastating flooding and landslides caused by the hurricane. Another interesting topic was on geologic storage potential in Virginia, also by Virginia Energy.

James Madison University and Radford University students made presentations too.

It is worth exploring the Virginia Energy website at https://www.energy.virginia.gov/. The website features such links as “Ask a Geologist” and information on the geology and mineral resources of Virginia at https://www.energy.virginia.gov/geology/geologymineralresources.shtml.

This symposium is a wonderful resource among many available for geology enthusiasts in Fairfax County. Others include are:

  • The Northern Virginia Mineral Club: https://www.novamineralclub.org/
  • The Annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show at George Mason University
  • NVCC 1-day 1-credit excursions (Field Studies in Geology under GOL-135)
  • The Virginia Geological Field Conference (also with counterparts in PA, NJ, and NY)https://vgfc.blogs.wm.edu/