Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, April 23rd & 24th

When: Saturday & Sunday, 04/23 -24/2022 10:00AM-6:00PM

Where: Leesburg Flower & Garden Fair

King St.
Leesburg, VA 20175

Click here for more information.

Event Description:

The annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival is a great way to kick off your spring activities. Visit Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s booth for hands-on activities for kids of all ages, see what bear scat really looks like, quiz yourself on different wildlife tracks and signs, and pick up lots of free handouts with ideas for the whole family to get outside and explore nature.

Invasive Plant Identification Walk, April 9th

Photo: Courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority

When: Saturday, 04/09/2022 10:00-11:30AM

Where: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

5040 Walney Road
Chantilly, VA, 20151
Map of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Cost: $8.00

Click here for more information.

Register Online.

Event Description:

Identify some Fairfax County’s common invasive plant species. Explore ways to lessen these plants around your home.

Family Woodcock Walk, March 19th

Photo: Courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority

When: Wednesday, 3/19/2022 6:45-8:15PM


3701 Lockheed Blvd.
Alexandria, VA,
Map of Huntley Meadows Park

Cost: $9.00

Click here for more information.

Register Online.

Event Description:

Come for an evening walk through the woods to one of the park’s large meadows. Listen for the call of the male woodcock and hopefully see his amazing courtship display and flight. Bring a flashlight. Approximately 1.5 mile walk on uneven terrain. Canceled if rain. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Meets at the South Kings Highway entrance to the park.

Evening Woodcock Walk

Photo: Courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority

Evening Woodcock Walk

When: Wednesday, 3/02/2022  5:30-7:00PM


3701 Lockheed Blvd.
Alexandria, VA,
Map of Huntley Meadows Park

Cost: $9.00

Click here for more information.

Register Online.

Event Description:

Take an evening stroll through the forest to one of the park’s largest meadows. Listen for the call of the male woodcock and hopefully see his amazing courtship dance and flight. Bring a flashlight. Approximately 1.5 mile walk on uneven terrain. Canceled if rain. Meets at the South Kings Highway entrance to the park.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Photo: Carolina Chickadee by Brad Imhoff/Macaulay Library

When: Wednesday, February 16, 2022  2:00-3:00pm ET

Where: Livestream webinar

Click here for more information and registration.

Event Description:

Join us for a free webinar to help you make birdwatching easier and more fun—right in time for the 25th Great Backyard Bird Count. Join our experts as we brush up on bird ID, unlock the mystery of bird songs, and practice counting birds no matter how large the flock or busy the feeder. Plus, we’ll discuss how to create group counts using new eBird Trip Reports. This webinar is designed for birders of all ages and experience—you’ll leave confident and ready to be part of the GBBC!

Virtual Winter Lecture-Lift Ev’ry Voice, February 20th

Photo: Courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority (Green Spring Park)

Virtual Winter Lecture-Lift Ev’ry Voice

When: Sunday, 2/20/2022 1:30 pm

Where: Green Spring Gardens

4603 Green Spring Rd.
Alexandria, VA, 22312

Cost: $10.00

Click here for activity details or call 703-642-5173.

Registration is online.

Event Description:

From sea to shining sea, Black people have made rich contributions to American garden history. Join horticulturalist and historian Abra Lee on this journey through the DMV and beyond as we celebrate these horticultural trailblazers. A Zoom link will be emailed before the event. This virtual program is sponsored by the Friends of Green Spring and runs from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Virginia Master Naturalists receive award for expanding diversity

Photo by Rich Brager

By David Fleming      21 JAN 2022

A team of Virginia Master Naturalists committed to diversity and inclusion has spent much of the year focused on finding ways to increase participation and encourage engagement between conservation volunteers and communities in the commonwealth.

For their efforts in addressing these challenges of conservation work, the program’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group was recently awarded the Outstanding Team Award from the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs.

“Our diversity and inclusion group was formed in early 2021, with the particular intention of having a team of people who reflect the diversity of the populations we want to reach with our program,” said Michelle Prysby, a Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty member in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and the director of the Virginia Master Naturalist program. “Our goal has been to meet to talk about what some of the barriers are for participation in these programs and what potential actions could be taken to help reduce those barriers.”

The group, composed of master naturalists from numerous chapters of the organization, was tasked with developing a list of action items that would serve to increase diversity and inclusion across all of the organization’s programs.

“There is a lot of interest and enthusiasm among Virginia Master Naturalists to engage with communities,” said Alexis Dickerson, a member of the working group awarded the prize. “But people who aren’t naturally engaged in other communities have a hesitation about how to approach that work.”

Dickerson, a member of the Arlington Regional Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist program and an urban outreach educator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, notes that the Virginia Master Naturalist program is a useful conduit to connect citizens and community groups with relevant information about natural resources.

“Many of the environmental issues we talk about or educate on are relevant to a lot of very different and diverse communities,” Dickerson explained. “Our ability to identify where those places are, and to work to be a better resource for the people who are already starting to do conservation work, or who have concerns about their natural resources, can significantly increase our service to the state of Virginia.”

The working group, which worked collaboratively during twice-monthly Zoom meetings, recently presented a webinar for all Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers. The group outlined their goals, provided actionable steps for regional chapters, and explained how increasing diversity among participants can contribute positively to the broader outreach aims of the organization.

Prysby said that while these initial steps are positive, the task of expanding access to and participating with the Virginia Master Naturalist program is a long-term challenge.

“The challenge of diversity is always a concern for people working in natural resource education,” said Prysby, who works in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. “If our end goal is conservation of natural resources, that isn’t something that just happens. It requires people and communities, and for us to be effective, we need to involve all people and all communities.”

To learn more about how the Virginia Master Naturalist program fosters citizen science in the commonwealth, consider joining CNRE’s Third Thursday Lunch & Learn Webinar on Feb. 17 from 12 to 1:15 p.m.

This article is reprinted with permission from Krista Timney, Ph.D., Director of Communications, College of Natural Resources and Environmen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The article appeared in the Virginia Tech News daily email.

A Tribute to E.O. Wilson, written by Doug Tallamy

Attribution of photo: Jim HarrisonCC BY 2.5, (cropped)  via Wikimedia Commons

E. O. Wilson was an extraordinary scholar in every sense of the word. Back in the 1980s, Milton Stetson, the chair of the biology department at the University of Delaware, told me that a scientist who makes a single seminal contribution to his or her field has been a success. By the time I met Edward O. Wilson in 1982, he had already made at least five such contributions to science.

Wilson, who died Dec. 26, 2021 at the age of 92, discovered the chemical means by which ants communicate. He worked out the importance of habitat size and position within the landscape in sustaining animal populations. And he was the first to understand the evolutionary basis of both animal and human societies.

Each of his seminal contributions fundamentally changed the way scientists approached these disciplines, and explained why E.O. – as he was fondly known – was an academic god for many young scientists like me. This astonishing record of achievement may have been due to his phenomenal ability to piece together new ideas using information garnered from disparate fields of study.

Big insights from small subjects

In 1982 I cautiously sat down next to the great man during a break at a small conference on social insects. He turned, extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Ed Wilson. I don’t believe we’ve met.” Then we talked until it was time to get back to business.

Three hours later I approached him again, this time without trepidation because surely now we were the best of friends. He turned, extended his hand, and said “Hi, I’m Ed Wilson. I don’t believe we’ve met.”

Wilson forgetting me, but remaining kind and interested anyway, showed that beneath his many layers of brilliance was a real person and a compassionate one. I was fresh out of graduate school, and doubt that another person at that conference knew less than I — something I’m sure Wilson discovered as soon as I opened my mouth. Yet he didn’t hesitate to extend himself to me, not once but twice.

Thirty-two years later, in 2014, we met again. I had been invited to speak in a ceremony honoring his receipt of the Franklin Institute’s Benjamin Franklin Medal for Earth and Environmental Science. The award honored Wilson’s lifetime achievements in science, but particularly his many efforts to save life on Earth.

My work studying native plants and insects, and how crucial they are to food webs, was inspired by Wilson’s eloquent descriptions of biodiversity and how the myriad interactions among species create the conditions that enable the very existence of such species.

Though I am an entomologist, I did not realize that insects were “the little things that run the world” until Wilson explained why this is so in 1987. Like nearly all scientists and nonscientists alike, my understanding of how biodiversity sustains humans was embarrassingly cursory. Fortunately, Wilson opened our eyes. I spent the first decades of my career studying the evolution of insect parental care, and Wilson’s early writings provided a number of testable hypotheses that guided that research. But his 1992 book, The Diversity of Life, resonated deeply with me and became the basis for an eventual turn in my career path.

Throughout his career Wilson flatly rejected the notion held by many scholars that natural history – the study of the natural world through observation rather than experimentation – was unimportant. He proudly labeled himself a naturalist, and communicated the urgent need to study and preserve the natural world. Decades before it was in vogue, he recognized that our refusal to acknowledge the Earth’s limits, coupled with the unsustainability of perpetual economic growth, had set humans well on their way to ecological oblivion.

Wilson understood that humans’ reckless treatment of the ecosystems that support us was not only a recipe for our own demise. It was forcing the biodiversity he so cherished into the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history, and the first one caused by an animal: us.

A broad vision for conservation

And so, to his lifelong fascination with ants, E. O. Wilson added a second passion: guiding humanity toward a more sustainable existence. To do that, he knew he had to reach beyond the towers of academia and write for the public, and that one book would not suffice. Learning requires repeated exposure, and that is what Wilson delivered in The Diversity of Life, Biophilia, The Future of Life, The Creation and his final plea in 2016, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.

As Wilson aged, desperation and urgency replaced political correctness in his writings. He boldly exposed ecological destruction caused by fundamentalist religions and unrestricted population growth, and challenged the central dogma of conservation biology, demonstrating that conservation could not succeed if restricted to tiny, isolated habitat patches.

In “Half Earth,” he distilled a lifetime of ecological knowledge into one simple tenet: Life as we know it can be sustained only if we preserve functioning ecosystems on at least half of planet Earth.

But is this possible? Nearly half of the planet is used for some form of agriculture, and 7.9 billion people and their vast network of infrastructure occupy the other half.

As I see it, the only way to realize E.O.’s lifelong wish is learn to coexist with nature, in the same place, at the same time. It is essential to bury forever the notion that humans are here and nature is someplace else. Providing a blueprint for this radical cultural transformation has been my goal for the last 20 years, and I am honored that it melds with E.O. Wilson’s dream.

There is no time to waste in this effort. Wilson himself once said, “Conservation is a discipline with a deadline.” Whether humans have the wisdom to meet that deadline remains to be seen.

Doug Tallamy is Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Winter Wildlife Festival, January 2022

The annual Winter Wildlife Festival in Virginia Beach is going to have both virtual and in-person events in January 2022. This event is put on by the City of Virginia Beach and several other partners, including the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Check out the full schedule and additional information online. Registrations are open now!

View virtual workshops and events, including the Festival Keynote: “The Bird Way” with Jennifer Ackerman.

View in person Trips and Excursions.




Elly Doyle Volunteer Awards 2021

Each year the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) celebrates outstanding efforts of volunteerism at the Elly Doyle Awards Ceremony. As the announcement states, “there are thousands of individuals and many organizations that volunteer each year in local parks and support the many programs and initiatives of the Fairfax County Park Authority. In fact, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate our park system without you, our valued volunteers”.

This year FPCA will be hosting a virtual ceremony. The 2021 award recipients will be honored on November 19, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Please RSVP to receive the direct link to the ceremony. 

Two of the 2021 recipients are FMN Bob Dinse and the at large group Friends of Accotink Creek. Membership in the Friends group is many, including in part FMNs Ashley Zywusko, Kathryn Pasternak, Kim Schauer, Ana Ka’ahanui, Elaine Sevy, Janet Quinn, Beverley Rivera, Wendy Cohen, Sarah Glassco, and Dianne Bowen. The contrasting qualities of these awards should not be lost. One recognizes the efforts of an individual, the other the combined efforts of a group. Both, however, recognize how each made lasting positive impacts to their community and to the environment. At the end of the day, getting out there and getting involved, no matter how you are able to do it, is the difference maker.

Bob Dinse will be awarded the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award for his continued contributions at Hidden Oaks Nature Center (HONC). According to the HONC nomination, Bob exemplifies an environmental steward by his actions and advocacy with his 12 years of at Hidden Oaks. Bob demonstrates the responsible use and protection of natural resources through his conservation efforts. In addition to routine upkeep of existing trails, Bob alleviated erosion and stream bank deterioration, created and enhanced gardens, donated hundreds of dollars of native ferns, native plants, nuts, and birdseed and, in doing so, effectively serves as a FCPA ambassador. 

Bob Dinse at HONC – photo Jerry Nissley

Bob is a consummate environmental steward – he leads by example. As he wears the park logo on his hat and shirt, he quietly, effectively, and earnestly shares the message that each person can make a positive difference in his community. The specifics of Bob’s contributions are numerous. When I asked Bob for one project that might stick out for him he replied, “I would like to thank Suzanne Holland and Michael McDonnell [both are HONC management] for letting me work at HONC for the past 12 years. There have been past workers and staff as well current ones I have enjoyed working with. I hope I have a few more years being at HONC.” To me that exemplifies the humility of a man with a servant’s heart.

The Friends of Accotink Creek will be awarded the Elly Doyle Park Service Award. Anyone that reads the FMN newsletter or monitors FMN social media is aware of the tireless efforts and continued positive impact this group makes to Accotink Creek watershed system and surrounding environs.

FACC Members after planning walk – Photo courtesy of FACC

With regards to the criteria for this 2021 Service Award, the group has removed invasive plants, planted dozens of native trees, organized community activities with scout, school and faith groups, provided advocacy for environmental issues, and organized several stream clean ups to list but a few projects.

For example, at this year’s Spring Clean Up, more than 280 Friends of Accotink Creek (FACC) volunteers picked up 255 bags of trash, tires, and assorted flotsam at 12 different locations between Chain Bridge and Telegraph Road. Remember that Accotink Creek watershed is a major tributary to the Potomac River via Accotink Bay/Gunston Bay on the north side of Mason Neck Peninsula. As the creek flows, that’s 30+ miles of cleaner water thanks to the efforts of FACC.

Stream Monitoring – Photo Courtesy of FACC

FACC members also maintain three different Invasive Management Sites where native tree seedlings are protected from deer browse to give them an increased chance of successful growth. The sites also monitor the health of the creek system and report pollutants, such as oil spills, to the appropriate authorities. 

They advocate for sensitive areas such as the Accotink Gorge, which has rare native plants but is also heavily overrun with invasive Wisteria. Education within the community promotes awareness of issues that can affect the health and recreational aspects of the community. To that end, the group participated in the Mount Vernon Environmental Expo, handing out native sedges for planting, along with posters, booklets, and invasive species playing cards for educational purposes; and for the first time FACC contributed a table at the Latino Conservation Day. 

Accotink Stream Gorge – Photo Courtesy of FACC

For more than ten years volunteers have had workdays every week, occasionally more if a school or scout group has a particular request. The nomination for this award included a quote by Doug Tallamy, “Plant an oak, plant the future”. There is still hard word to be done but it is clear that FACC is both literally and figuratively working diligently to ‘plant the future’, which exemplifies the basic tenant of the VMN program itself, “to provide a statewide corps of volunteers dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources in their communities”.

Well done to all – and congratulations on the well earned awards.

Click to find out more about helping Accotink Gorge  https://www.accotink.org/2015/AccotinkGorge2015.htm

Click to find out more about Cinder Bed Road Bikeway – 


Click to access HONC website: