Natural history and conservation of Virginia moths, with Dr. Steve Roble, June 29

Clifton Institute
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187-7106

Saturday, June 29
8:00PM – 10:30PM

Dr. Steve Roble will give a presentation on the natural history about moths and a summary of his agency’s efforts during the past 30 years to study the moths of Virginia. Then we will go outside and use ultraviolet lights to attract moths and other nocturnal insects and discuss some of our finds.

Dr. Steve Roble is the head Zoologist for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage. He is the editor of Banisteria, the semiannual journal of the Virginia Natural History Society, and a research associate at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. $10 a person.

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Help with restoration planting at Clifton Institute, May 15-17

The lower dam at the Clifton Institute was scraped of most of its vegetation last year during a construction project. Before construction, the dam was covered in a diverse community of wildflowers and native grasses and it was a magnet for wildlife. They have received a Plant Grant from the Earth Sangha nursery that will provide $600 worth of free wetland plants so that they can restore the dam. They need help from the amazing community of generous volunteers to install the plants.

Clifton Institute will be planting at the following times:

Wednesday 15 May
9 AM-12:30 PM

Thursday 16 May
3-5:30 PM

Friday 17 May
2-5 PM

Unfortunately, they can’t schedule any weekend volunteer days during this busy time of year. But this project is simpler than last year’s riparian buffer planting and the should be able to get it done in three sessions.

Please let Bert Harris know via email if you’d like to help: bharris@cliftoninstitute.org.

Please bring gloves, a shovel or a trowel, sun protection, rubber boots, and water. And so that you can plan accordingly, it will probably be easiest to plant the seedlings while standing in the pond.

NVSWD’s Sustainable Garden Tour, June 9

One of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s most exciting gardening events of the summer is coming up in just one month, on Sunday, June 9! The Sustainable Garden Tour allows folks from all around Fairfax County to show off their innovative and sustainable gardens to interested visitors.

This year’s Sustainable Garden Tour features nine sites throughout the Vienna/Oakton area. Each  of these gardens boasts an array of native plantings, provides habitat to key pollinators, works to mitigate drainage or erosion issues, and helps these homeowners and community members reduce their environmental footprint.

Please join the community on June 9, from 1-5 pm, as we tour these nine gorgeous gardens. Here is a general interest flier, a set of directions to, and a brief description of each site.

BTW The NVSWD team could use some help staffing the tour. Reach out to Benjamin Rhoades (benjamin.rhoades@fairfaxcounty.gov) or Ashley Palmer (Ashley.palmer@fairfaxcounty.gov) if you can volunteer or have any questions.

Please share this information around your organization, office, or on your website.

Virginia Master Naturalist Webinar: Sea Level Rise in Virginia

Sea level is rising faster in Virginia than along the rest of the Atlantic coast. Rising water levels bring flooding, increased erosion and shifts in plant and animal communities. In this webinar, we will explore the causes of sea level rise and how sea level rise is projected to change into the future. We will look at some of the impacts to the human and natural world and then discuss the possibilities and limitations of different adaptations.

Dr. Molly Mitchell is a researcher in the Center for Coastal Resources Management, at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She has spent the past 18 years studying marsh ecology, change, and restoration practices in the Chesapeake Bay. She is actively engaged in both research and advisory efforts to help the state and localities to manage natural resources in the Bay and understand the impacts of different decision-making pathways. Her recent research focuses particularly on sea level trends and variability and their impact on natural systems.

When: Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 12:00 pm

Meeting Number: 279-703-359

Link to Join: Join Webinar

Link for recordings of this and past webinars:

VMN Continuing Education Webinar page

Photo: Dr. Mitchell measures water elevation in a living shoreline.

Photo by CCRM.

Let’s talk turtles

Jerry Nissley

Although I developed “Turtle Talk” as my final project for the Spring 2019 FMN training class, I have been presenting talks with live turtles to elementary students for 6 years at Engleside Christian School, in Alexandria; Evangel Christian School, in Dale City; and Calvary Road School, in Alexandria. I believe that it is important to work with children so that they appreciate and care about the environment as they are growing up and when they become adults. Immediate and follow-on feedback on the presentations has been positive in this respect. Several students have reported, through their teacher to me, that their interest in nature increased as a result, and they began visiting parks and nature centers. 

Logan Switzer helped staff the Turtle Talk station at the 2019 Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day event

Our FMN class assignment to develop an interpretive talk gave me the perfect opportunity to develop a more polished presentation. I gave the new talk twice this spring, first at Eleanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, at their Earth Day event, as a “Turtle Talk” station. I also spoke at Calvary Road Christian school to about 30 students in their 3rd- and 5th-grade classes for 2 hours.

For my presentation. I built a portable display board that showcases:

  • Woodland turtle fun-facts (e.g., Turtles are omnivores, live 90+ years, have a completely enclosed shell, endure a brumation period of 6 months in Virginia)
  • A description of their habitat and their conservation status to help visitors understand how vulnerable box turtles are
  • Photos of two of the male and female turtles that I care for
  • Additional technical and pictorial resources for tailoring the presentation to different audiences

Box turtles

My presentation features three live box turtles that I rescued in the Northern Virginia area as road saves. The turtles live in a year-round outdoor enclosure at my house. I feed them a variety of food: worms, slugs, grubs, cherries, berries, and mushrooms, with a vitamin supplement called Rep-Cal. With the teacher’s permission, the children are allowed supervised handling and feeding during a class presentation. Box turtles are currently listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature species list due in large part to loss of habitat, roads, and slow breeding cycles. My goal is to create awareness of the importance of box turtles and their plight to encourage protection efforts.

Turtle Talk display

Additionally, I’ve designed and printed a tri-fold brochure to hand out as a public take-away. I also compiled various reference materials that I use to tailor a talk for a particular audience. For example, I displayed environmental information and talked about how we can help box turtles in our neighborhoods at the Earth Day event, but I would emphasize fun-facts at an elementary school demonstration. 

During the 2-hour Earth Day event at Ellanor C. Lawrence park, 38 people visited the Turtle Talk station, many of whom took brochures. Linda Fuller, an FMN colleague, organized the event.

The school presentations come under E254: Nature Presentations to Private Schools. I offered a “Turtle Talk” station in  at Huntley Meadows Wetland Appreciation Day on 5 May 2019, under the auspices of the FMN Service Project, E110: FCPA Nature Programs. Under E110, Volunteers plan, set up, lead, or assist with FCPA nature programs. Under both E254 and E110, volunteers may give interpretative talks on local wildlife and plants, lead trail walks, assist with live animal demonstrations, lead educational lessons in schools or with scouts, or assist with outreach activities. Our job as volunteers is to interact with participants, awakening their curiosity and helping them develop connections to nature and the outdoors. 

If any other FMN members are interested in creating live-animal presentations or general school presentations, I would be happy to consult, share what I’ve learned, and discuss the contacts I’ve developed. Working with children is meaningful and, I hope, it may lead to a new generation of committed naturalists and environmentally savvy adults.

What I learned during the 2019 City Nature Challenge

Bill Hafker

Participating in the City Nature Challenge was an enlightening and enjoyable experience in several ways.

First, I was somewhat surprised at how many unique living things you can spot when you are really intent on trying to find as many as you can, and you slow down and “get into the weeds” looking for things!

Wool sower gall wasp (Callirhytis seminator), by Bill Hafker

Second, I found that looking at the species identified by others participating in the Challenge was a good source of information for identifying things that I saw. A good example is when I found what I believe now is the wool sower gall wasp. I really had no idea where to start looking to see what this colorful little ball might be, but I found a picture of it in the species list identified by others. Several days have passed and no one has confirmed my ID, alas. Although my pictures are a bit blurry, I think there’s nothing else this could be. I found who the leading identifier of this species was, hoping to engage him in its identification, but could not find a way in iNaturalist to try to contact him.

In addition to looking into how to work with other identifiers, I’ve learned other things to improve my performance next year. This year, I limited myself to submitting only one observation of a species, even if I saw it in more than one area to make observations. I now know that multiple observations are a good way to help define spatial distributions of observed species.

I also realized that, while I received training in how to make observations in iNaturalist prior to the event, I should have sought out training in how to do identifications so I could more actively participate in that aspect of it, also.

Audubon Afternoon: Raptors of Virginia, Maryland, and DC, June 9

Sunday, June 9, 2019
2:30-5:00 PM
National Wildlife Center, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive Reston, VA, 20190

Please join the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for an exciting Audubon Afternoon.

As Secret Garden Birds and Bees presents “Raptors of Virginia, Maryland and DC,” they will have with them five live raptors for us to see and photograph, including a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk.

The audience will gather for refreshments at 2:30 p.m., have a brief Annual Meeting to elect officers and directors at 3:00, and begin the main program at about 3:15.

This is an event the whole family will enjoy!  As always, they welcome any food and drink that you would like to share with everyone.

Lake Barcroft Earth Day volunteers needed, April 28

Earth Day weekend provides the opportunity to promote nature and the environment!

Hidden Oaks especially needs nature table hosts for Lake Barcroft Earth Day on Sunday April 28, 2:00pm – 5:00 pm at Lake Barcroft Beach 5.

Host the table for Hidden Oaks Nature Center with all training, materials and displays provided. Shorter hours are ok, if needed. In past years have shown tadpoles, benthic macroinvertebrates, toad, turtle, variety of backyard bugs. Flexible to volunteer’s interest. Always a warm reception. Outdoor free activity for all ages. Typically 200-300 attend. 

To volunteer, contact Suzanne Holland, Hidden Oaks, at suzanne.holland@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-941-1065.  Record service hours as E110: FCPA Nature Programs.

SpringFest Fairfax nature volunteers needed, April 27

SpringFest Fairfax

Saturday, April 27, 10 am – 3pm

Sully Historic Site, Chantilly

Assist Hidden Oaks naturalists at backyard bugs nature table and distribute live ladybugs for release. Typically many hundreds attend this free outdoor Earth Day celebration for all ages. Training provided. Parking pass provided.  

To volunteer, contact Suzanne Holland, Hidden Oaks, at suzanne.holland@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-941-1065.  Fairfax Master Naturalists can record their service hours as E110: FCPA Nature Programs.

Flyer

Help out at Culmore Multicultural Day, April 27

Hidden Oaks urgently needs nature table volunteers for Culmore Multicultural Day on Saturday April 27, 9:30am – 2:30 pm at Woodrow Wilson Library, Falls Church.

Culmore Multicultural Day promotes Healthy Environment and Healthy Community.  Children’s activities, live music and folklore dancers are featured. See attached flyer.

Naturalists needed to host or assist at Hidden Oaks Nature Center table with live animals- your choice back yard bugs or amphibians, possibly a turtle. All training, materials and supplies provided. Ideal for multi-lingual volunteer. 

To volunteer, contact Suzanne Holland, Hidden Oaks, at suzanne.holland@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-941-1065.  

Record service hours as E110: FCPA Nature Programs.

Flyer