Fairfax Master Naturalist Volunteers Help Celebrate Earth Day 2023

Photo: by Susan Martel, FMN Volunteers at Earth Day Fairfax 2023

Article by Fairfax Master Naturalists Jo Doubmia and Susan Martel

The FMN hosted a table at the 2023 Earth Day Fairfax on April 22 at Sully Historic Site.  Attendees were drawn to their table to learn about the FMN training program, invasive plants, native plants, the numerous nature-related volunteer programs available in the county, and bear awareness, among others.  Many expressed appreciations for the FMN volunteer work and several attendees wanted specifically to learn about the application process to the FMN program.

The children had a blast. These budding naturalists were very involved with magnifying glasses examining detailed resin-encased insects. They also enjoyed coloring, talking about insects, and wondering about which insect figure to pick from the treasure chest. Despite the afternoon rain which closed the event earlier than planned, the FMN volunteers had plenty of time and curious visitors to share their interest, experience, and knowledge as nature stewards.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day than enjoying the camaraderie of wonderful FMN volunteers supporting a meaningful outreach event.  For FMN, Earth Day 2023 was a great success!




Farmers Markets Set To Open for 2023 Season

It’s a new season and there is going to be a lot of fresh and healthy foods waiting for you at the famers’ markets. The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts 10 markets at locations throughout Fairfax County, where residents can find a variety of fresh and locally grown produce, delicious baked goods, prepared foods and family-friendly market activities, including live musical performances.

The 2023 season begins April 19 with the McCutcheon/Mount Vernon market. Check out the full market schedule below for the latest times and locations.


McCutcheon/Mount Vernon

April 19 to Dec. 20, from 8 a.m. to noon
Sherwood Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane

Oak Marr

May 3 to Nov. 8, from 8 a.m. to noon
Oak Marr Recreation Center, 3200 Jermantown Road


May 3 to Oct. 25, from 2 to 6 p.m.
Wakefield Park, 8100 Braddock Road



May 4 to Nov. 2, from 8 a.m. to noon
Mason District Park, 6621 Columbia Pike


May 4 to Nov. 9, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Old Town Herndon, 700 Block of Lynn St., by the Red Caboose



May 5 to Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon
Lewinsville Park, 1659 Chain Bridge Road


May 5 to Oct. 27, from 3 to 7 p.m.
In the Giant parking lot, 5870 Kingstowne Towne Center



April 22 to Dec. 16, from 8 a.m. to noon
VRE parking Lot, 5671 Roberts Parkway


April 30 to Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to noon
Lake Anne Village Center, 1609-A Washington Plaza



May 7 to Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
VRE parking lot, 8990 Lorton Station Blvd.

Please visit the Farmers Market website for a complete list of market times and locations. If you have any questions, please contact the Community Horticulture Office at 702-642-0128.

Come to the Eagle Festival, May 13th

Photo: by FMN Ana Ka’ahanui

Saturday, May13, 2023
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA 22079

Come to Mason Neck State Park on Saturday May 13 for the Eagle Festival — a day filled with special presentations, shows, and interactive exhibits by environmental organizations. Parking and admission are free!

Secret Garden Birds and Bees, a long-time park favorite, will have two programs with live raptors. There will also be puppet shows for young and old, and programs on reptiles and amphibians. You’ll be entertained by two live bands, and costumed characters will roam the festival grounds. And if you get hungry, the Lions Club will have food and drinks for sale and the Scoops2U food truck will be there with ice cream and sweets.

Be sure to mark the festival on your calendar!

For FMN volunteers please record service hours under E240: Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival-Friends of Mason Neck State Park (FOMNSP).

Fairfax County Park Authority Earth Day Event, April 22nd

Image: Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

Saturday, April 22, 2023
10:00 AM –  4:00 PM
Sully Historic Site
3650 Historic Sully Way, Chantilly, VA 20151

Celebrate “Healthy People – Healthy Planet” with a fun day packed with entertainment, activities, food vendors, Touch-A-Truck and prizes and more! Come to Earth Day Fairfax 2023 and learn about what Fairfax County is doing to support environmental sustainability and what you can do to help!

Down load informational flyer here.

If you are an FMN volunteering at the FMN table:   Record service hours under E161: Earth Day/Arbor Day Outreach and education.


One Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Banner Photo courtesy NoVA Science Center

Adalene Spivy and Katie Jones opening presentation – photo Jerry Nissley

FMN attended a community event at the Kincora complex in Dulles on March 23rd to preview final plans for the Northern Virginia Science Center project. The event was designed to connect like minded organizations in and around NoVA that would have potential interest in the new science center. Attendees were presented with a beautifully done conceptual fly-through of the future facility. After the detailed video introduction, we were invited to the Jameson’s rooftop terrace for coffee, conversation, and unobstructed views of the very active heron rookery.

The Kincora community in Loudon County  is somewhat unique in and of itself. It is planned as an interactive, multi-use, nature-focused community that harmoniously interweaves residential dwellings with the surrounding natural environment. Within Kincora’s 424 acres is a 165 acre conservation area that encompasses a section of the Broad Run watershed. This conservation area includes green space for leisure outdoor activity, meandering trails, and the great blue heron rookery.

Understanding the heritage of the ninth century Irish palace named Kincora and the legacy of its ruler Brian Boru, lends insight into the vision for modern day Kincora. The Gaelic saying: Ceud Mìle Fàilte, means ‘One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, you are welcome. Modern day Kincora has adopted this axiom as their theme for community planning. So it is written that Loudon County Kincora, “aims to create a place of unity where everyone will find their happy and peaceful spot, whether that’s running along one of the community’s many trails, sketching a landscape of Broad Run, or devouring a good book at a local café.”

Partial view of Heron Trail adjacent the rookery. – Photo Jerry Nissley

The Northern Virginia Science Center, which will be located on land donated by Kincora, is being developed through a public-private partnership including the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation – a Northern Virginia based non-profit, the Science Museum of Virginia – an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Loudoun County. With substantial public and private financial support from partners across the region, this project fulfills the long-held vision for a world-class, interactive, indoor/outdoor science center in NoVA. It is networked with the other Virginia science centers, so resource sharing is an advantage. The Center will feature five main exhibition galleries: Flow (fluid in motion), Helios (our solar system), Human (what makes us human), Habitat (how humans are part of nature), and Wonders (family interactive science).

Those dark spots in the sycamores are Heron nests – Photo Jerry Nissley

The adjacent Great Blue Heron rookery reportedly averages 50+ nests clustered among the mottled sycamore trees along Broad Run. From the rooftop observation deck of the Jameson, herons could be seen bringing in large to medium sized sticks required to repair nests from last season or complete new construction. Adult herons would squabble and squawk over the new lumber and occasionally one heron would purloin a branch from another for its own nest. A raucous construction site indeed. Spotting scopes or 800mm camera lens were not required to watch this atavistic behavior but were indeed helpful. Herons will forever remind me of pterodactyls. No chicks were seen at this time of the year. The eponymously named Blue Heron Trail winds its way through the preserved area near the rookery.

Rooftop gathering – photo courtesy NoVA Science Center

The event was widely attended by representatives from environmental, science, and conservation groups in NoVA. There was palatable anticipation in the air as all organizations look forward to the groundbreaking. The future science center shows so much potential to inspire STEM learning and to provide high-quality interactive experiences to learners of all ages.

Kudos go out as well to the enthusiastic and engaging Science Center management team. They made for a memorable event, with “one hundred thousand welcomes” of their own.

Oh – by the way, Kincora has a secret to reveal that I can neither confirm nor deny (wink) – ha, but fortunately you may read all about.


A few attendees brought the right tools – photo Jerry Nissley

List of organizations in attendance:

  • Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship
  • Fells Financial
  • Friends of Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve
  • Fairfax County Park Authority
  • George Mason University
  • Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services
  • Loudoun County Public Library
  • Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation
  • Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
  • Loudoun Water
  • MSI Photo
  • National Weather Service
  • Northern Virginia Bird Club
  • Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation
  • Virginia Master Naturalists – Banshee Reeks Chapter
  • Virginia Master Naturalists – Fairfax Chapter

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Native Plant Sale, April 22nd

Photo: Courtesy of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Saturday, April 22, 2023
9:00am – 3:00pm

Main Visitor Parking Lot at Morven Park
17195 Southern Planter Ln
Leesburg, VA 20176 

It’s (always) time to go native!

Native plants add beauty and interest to your garden all year long and provide important habitat for wildlife. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Native Plant Sale is the place to buy spring-blooming flowers, vines, trees, shrubs and ferns from four local native plant nurseries. The sale will be staffed by volunteers knowledgeable about native plants who can advise you on selecting natives for your garden.

In addition to selling plants, the Sale provides an opportunity to learn about some of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s programs. Our Wild Shop will be there with books, T shirts, mugs and other merchandise for sale. Community partners—including the Banshee Reeks Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists and Loudoun County Master Gardeners—will have booths at the sale, as well. We’ll also have TLC, a fertilizer and deer deterrent, to give away.

Find more information about the LWC Native Plant Sate at:  https://loudounwildlife.org/event/spring-native-plant-sale/




Friday April 28 – Monday May 1, 2023

Do you like observing nature? Make your observations count! The City Nature Challenge is an adventure in metropolitan areas worldwide to discover and identify wildlife. You will be looking for signs of life in parks, neighborhoods, and backyards to see what plants and animals share our environment. Join the City Nature Challenge and become a citizen scientist!

Everyone in the Washington DC metropolitan area with access to a camera and the internet can observe wildlife for the Challenge. Anyone worldwide can help with identifying your finds!

Please review this helpful Resource Sheet on the 2023 CNC for important resources and events!

Where: DC Metro Area City Nature Challenge – Area inside the bright green line on this map.

DC Metro Area City Nature Challenge – Area inside the bright green line on this map.



Virginia Native Plant Society 2023 Annual Workshop [Zoom], March 7th & 14th

Image: Courtesy of The Virginia Native Plant Society

Tuesdays, March 7 & 14, 2023
6:30 – 9:00 PM

Virtual event

Fee: No charge.

Registration required.

Learn about “Recent Botanical Explorations & Discoveries in the Eastern US” at our online workshop, presented over two consecutive Tuesday evenings.

Zoom session starts at 6:30pm for meet and greet. Two workshop sessions start at 7pm and 8pm both evenings. Please register only once for both sessions.

Click here for workshop presentation abstracts and presenter bios.

Tuesday, March 7th 


Botanical and Taxonomic Discovery in the Eastern US:
Harnessing Technology & Applications to Bring Botany into the Modern Era

Presenter: Scott Ward, Research Botanist, NC Botanical Gardens



The Dichanthelium Break-Up: A Classic “It’s not them, it’s us” Story

Justin Thomas, Director and Botanist, NatureCITE

Tuesday, March 14th 


From Bloodroot to Banyan: 1,000 Miles of Botanical Explorations and Discoveries Across Florida’s Diverse Ecosystems

Lilly Byrd, Botanist, Florida Native Plant Society



Recent Botanical Finds at the Virginia Natural Heritage Program

Joey Thompson


Stream Monitoring Citizen Science & Training Opportunities, March and April

Photo: Hidden Pond stream monitoring by J. Quinn

Below is a list of the stream monitoring workshops and training opportunities located throughout the county:

Accotink Creek Stream Monitoring Session

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Lake Accotink Park Administrative Building, Springfield

Join the Friends of Accotink Creek as they monitor Accotink Creek at this long-standing monitoring site. Learn more, register, and see past results at this site here.


Pohick Creek Stream Monitoring Workshop

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Pohick Creek Stream Valley Park, Springfield

This site along Pohick Creek runs adjacent to the Cross County Trail and features a family- and pet-friendly walking trail in addition to cool stream critters. Learn more and register for this workshop and others here.


Cub Run Stream Monitoring Workshop

When: Sunday, March 19, 2023

Cub Run Stream Valley Park, Centreville

This spot is known for the beautiful Virginia bluebells that bloom at our stream site each spring. We often see a lot of mayflies too! Learn more and register for this workshop and others here.


Horsepen Run Stream Monitoring Workshop

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Horsepen Run Stream Valley Park, Herndon

This site has faced challenges in recent years including erosion and invasive bamboo. Join the NVSWCD as we monitor Horsepen Run to assess stream health and learn about the environmental impacts on this stream. Learn more and register for this workshop and others here.


Sugarland Run Monitoring Workshop

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Sugarland Run Stream Valley Park, Herndon

This stream site is known for the large number of Great Blue Herons that visit the site as well as a large number of crayfish found in our collection nets. Learn more and register for this workshop and others here.


More Training and Stream Monitoring Opportunities

PocketMacros App – macroinvertebrate ID on Android and Apple

Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) is very excited to contribute their stream data to state and national datasets. If you’d like to see data from all the NVSWCD regional stream monitoring team’s active sites, you can find our organization on the Clean Water Hub.

Green Breakfast – Living with Black Bears in Virginia, March 11th

Photo: Courtesy of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Black Bear and cubs

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Virtual event
No registration is required.

This presentation, given by members of the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, will provide general information on bear biology, local sightings, food sources & safety, and human/bear interactions & safety. Be sure to check out these flyers with bear-wise basics from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources in English and Spanish. No registration is required, join on Microsoft Teams with this link. Questions may be directed to [email protected].

To receive updates about Green Breakfast speakers or join an upcoming virtual Green Breakfast, please register for the Green Breakfast newsletter. Please direct questions to NVSWCD.

You can view the Green Breakfast YouTube playlist here.