Clifton Institute hikes: Birds and mosses, 27 and 28 October

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Fourth Saturday Bird Walk

Saturday, October 27 at 8:00AM

Novice and experienced birders will enjoy these guided 1-2 mile hikes to look for the many species of birds that can be found on the field station. As fall migration proceeds, we’ll see different species of birds every week. Help us find that Bicknell’s Thrush that must be passing through!

Moss Identification and Biology

Sunday, October 28, 2:00PM – 4:00PM

The Clifton Institute is home to a diverse community of mosses and liverworts. Join moss expert Dr. Ralph Pope as we explore the field station and learn about these often overlooked plants. Ralph is the author of Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts: A Field Guide to Common Bryophytes of the Northeast and he is an experienced field trip leader. Bring your hand lens!

The Big Sit! October 13th

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area, Lorton VA

Saturday, 13 October 2018

8 am – 4pm

Sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV)

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon—participants tally bird species seen or heard within a given time period. The difference lies in the limited area from which you make your observations. It’s called the Big Sit for a good reason—it’s like a tailgate party for birders. Bring a chair and your binoculars. Snacks will be provided. You also may go with us on a guided bird walk or participate in a kid-friendly activity. This event is FREE of charge and open to the public.

Look for the ASNV group at the assigned count circle by the pollinator garden located at the Mustang Loop Trail parking lot (intersection of Gunston and Harley Roads). In addition to recording all birds seen and heard, they’ll note any butterfly species. A bird walk at 8:30 a.m. will start at the count circle.

Mt. Vernon District Environment Expo: 10 November

Saturday, 10 November 2018
8 a.m. – noon
Walt Whitman Middle School
2500 Parkers Ln, Alexandria, VA 22306

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck will host his first Environment Expo where we will explore how everyone can help save our planet, with the theme “Saving the Earth One Person at a Time”. The morning will feature an Exhibit Hall with a variety of County agencies, service providers and educators, informational and hands-on workshops and screenings of the film “Hometown Habitat”.
Join us for the morning to LEARN, ENGAGE and ACT to save our environment!

Edible Insects and Human Evolution, at Museum of Natural History

FREE ticketed event

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 
6:45 PM – 8:30 PM 
Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20013-7012

In her new book, Edible Insects and Human Evolution, author Julie Lesnik traces evidence that humans have been consuming insects throughout the course of human evolution, and provides a compelling case for why we should bring them back into our staple diets.

Lesnik points out that insects are highly nutritious and a very sustainable protein alternative. She believes that if we accept that edible insects are a part of the human legacy, we may have new conversations about what is good to eat—both in past diets and for the future of food.

Join the Museum of Natural History for a talk by Lesnik, and later, see edible insects from the entomology collection, and chat with scientists Briana Pobiner, a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet, and Seán Brady, an expert in bees and wasps and Chair of the Department of Entomology.

Edible Insects and Human Evolution will be available for purchase and signing at the program.

About the Author

Julie Lesnik is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She studies the evolution of human diet with a specific interest in how humans have gathered, farmed, and cooked insects for food. She received a PhD in anthropology and a MS in kinesiology from the University of Michigan in 2011.

What’s in these streams? Come find out!

Ever wonder what’s living in our local streams? Join a stream monitoring team and help gauge local water quality by surveying aquatic organisms living on the stream bottom. Led by certified stream monitors, the teams welcome interested observers and offer an opportunity to explore Northern Virginia’s lovely creeks.

NVSWCD Sugarland Run Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, 6 October 2018, 10 am-12:30pm
Where: Sugarland Run Stream Valley Park, Herndon

Registration is required and limited. Register by email to Ashley Palmer at, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Education Specialist.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 7 October 2018, 10:30am-12:30pm
Where: Goose Creek

Limit 7. Registration required. The exact location will be sent to registered participants closer to the date. The rain date for this event is October 14. Contact for registration and questions.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 14 October 2018, 9-11am
Where: Waterford

Limit 7. Registration required. The exact location will be sent to registered participants closer to the date. The rain date for this event is October 21. Contact for registration and questions.

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, 20 October 2018, 1-4pm
Where: Reston
Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s stream. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends. Learn more and register.
Holmes Run Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 21 October 2018, 9am-12pm
Where: Falls Church
Join a volunteer certified stream monitor as she assesses ecological conditions in streams, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Registration is required and limited. Register by email to Valerie Bertha.
Hidden Pond Stream Monitoring Session
When: Saturday, November 3, 9:00am-12:00pm
Where: Springfield
Join a volunteer certified stream monitor as she assesses ecological conditions in streams, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Registration is required and limited to 5 registrants. Register by email to Susan Demsko.

It’s time well-spent when Virginia Master Naturalists convene in conference

Mike Bishop 

The 2018 Virginia Master Naturalists State conference is over, but attendees left with a lot of useful information, new friends, and fond memories. This year’s conference was held in Fredericksburg, 7-9 September. Although I also attended the 2017 conference in Front Royal, this year I participated not only as a student, but as an instructor. 

Mike Bishop (left) discussing purple martins with Chris Ludwig

The organizing committee asked if I would be interested in teaching classes about the Purple Martin and the Northern Virginia Purple Martin Initiative that I founded several years ago. I immediately said I would, seizing a great opportunity to be able to spread the word about this conservation effort.

The conference started for me on Friday with a thrilling and educational 3-hour kayak trip down the historic Rappahannock River, with 25 other naturalists. Sights along the way were Bald Eagles, Osprey and Great Blue Herons, to name just a few. Our guides had extensive knowledge of an adjoining canal system that I didn’t even know existed. We pulled ashore at several places to explore them. This was just one of many field trips led by local experts on the area. I spent the rest of the conference teaching or attending classes by leaders in their fields of study. One class I particularly enjoyed covered current research and findings about bird migration patterns and habits.

The conference center was top notch; classrooms were excellent for teaching and the meals were delicious. The Rappahannock chapter did everything right to make this a most enjoyable and comfortable event. There were even three tables of superb, nature-related door prizes. Everybody walked away with something.

After attending the state conferences for the past years, I plan on going to as many future ones as possible. As important as the classes you learn from is networking with others from around the state—finding out what makes their chapters so fun and effective. 

In September 2019, the conference will be held in Harrisonburg. The close proximity again makes it convenient for the members of our chapter. Considering the area, the field trips should be visiting some spectacular natural areas of the Shenandoah Valley. 

Unfortunately, representation from our chapter has been low at the past two conferences. Let’s see if we can change that next year. Believe me, it’s time well spent and I hope to see you there! 

Volunteer at the Virginia State Fair

Volunteers are needed to help with the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) and Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), or Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) exhibit booths at the Virginia State Fair, which runs from Sept 28th-Oct. 7th at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.


  • Interactive Watershed Address/Soil Water Conservation District Map
  • Mini Mock Dominion Envirothon Program
  • Virginia Conservation Assistance Program Educational Outreach Tools
  • Interactive stream table
  • Prescribed fire information
  • Kids activities

All workers will receive a free fair entrance ticket. There are two time slots for each day 9:45-2:00pm & 1:45-6:00pm, with the goal of having 4 people for each time slot.

To sign up for VASWCD/VDOF booth, please visit the Signup Genius please choose the VASWCD Booth or additional volunteer slot as where you are signing up.

To sign up for the DEQ booth, go to  and then email your preferred mailing address to so she can mail you your entrance tickets.

Earth Science Week: Oct 14-20, 2018

What is Earth Science Week?

It is an internationally recognized celebration that helps the public gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the earth sciences. Organized by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), this annual celebration has attracted young people since 1998.

This year’s theme: Earth as Inspiration

According to AGI, this theme will engage young people and others in exploring the relationship between the arts and Earth systems and promote public understanding and stewardship of the planet, especially in terms of the ways art relates to geoscience principles and issues as diverse as energy, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, technology, industry, agriculture, recreation, and the economy.

Did we mention the Earth Science Week 2018 “Earth as Inspiration” toolkit?

  • 12-month school-year activity calendar, suitable for hanging
  • New Earth Science Week poster, including a learning activity
  • NASA materials on school resources and planetary exploration
  • National Park Service posters on caves, plants, and geology
  • Geologic Map Day poster dealing with artistic inspiration
  • Mineral Education Coalition “Quarry to Crop” postcard
  • IRIS material on seismology and earthquakes
  • AmericaView poster on exploring America through LandSat
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute poster on global change
  • UNAVCO materials on Geodesy and websites to explore
  • Fact sheet from Critical Zones Observatories
  • Switch Energy Project information on energy science
  • Bureau of Land Management dinosaur coloring page
  • Material on Constructing the Rock Cycle from GSA
  • Water Footprint Calculator information on water science
  • EarthScope material on what it means to be an Earth scientist
  • CLEAN, AMS, TERC, and GPS information and more

Order the 2018 Earth Science Week Toolkit – Earth as Inspiration!

For more info, please download and read the attachment here, and go to the website:

If you have any questions, please contact:

David Spears, State Geologist: or 434-951-6350


Earth Sangha Fall Native Plant Sale– September 30th

Earth Sangha Wild Plant Nursery

6100 Cloud Drive in Franconia Park, Springfield VA

Sunday, 30 September 2018

9 am – 12 pm

Many folks could not attend last week’s sale so Earth Sangha is having a second sale!

Fall is really the best time to visit the nursery. In the Spring, the plants are still emerging from winter dormancy, and Earth Sangha cannot offer as many species. The Fall, as experienced gardeners know, is also the best time to plant. Trees, shrubs, and perennials like the cooler weather and greater rainfall lets them establish robust roots. Late blooming annuals can make great additions to your garden, and many will “volunteer” from seed next year. Click here for the Wild Plant Nursery Species List.

If you are interest in volunteering at the sale, please email Katherine Isaacson at  There will be a morning shift (9:30 to Noon) and an afternoon shift (Noon to 2:30).

Habitat Network, Citizen Science talk, October 4th

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312

Thursday, 4 October 2018
7:30 – 9 pm

Meet Megan Whatton and learn about her work with Habitat Network, which is creating a movement to transform yards and urban landscapes to functional diverse habitat to support wildlife and connect people to nature in communities around the world.  It is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Network is powered by YardMap, a citizen science mapping tool used to capture data about ecologically relevant practices and to search for local information when planning for and improving a yard, school, or other greenspace.

Megan is the Habitat Network Project Manager for The Nature

Conservancy, where she works with scientists, partners, private landowners, citizen scientists and volunteers to re-imagine their properties and urban properties as habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people. Megan has an M.S. Degree in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University.

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).  All VNPS programs are free and open to the public.   Continuing education credit for master naturalists!