Firescaping-A Virtual Training, May 14th

Zoom training
Thursday, 14 May 2020
10am – Noon
Please contact Holly Campbell for link and password.

Wildfire season is fast approaching. This is occurring amid reports of the highest temperatures on record in some parts of the country and the continued megadrought in the southwestern U.S.- which is reported as one of the worst droughts in 1200 years! As well, extreme weather and other factors continue to fuel tragic wildfires every year across the country. For these reasons and more, it’s imperative that communities better prepare for wildfires. A new USDA-NIFA funded training was developed recently, Preparing for Wildfires with Firescaping, to teach naturalists and gardeners about fire-resistant landscaping so, through their outreach and education efforts, they can help reduce their communities’ wildfire risk.

This free, Zoom training on fire-resistant landscaping, or firescaping, will teach naturalists about what firescaping is and how to implement it in their communities. Specifically, participants will learn about fire history and behavior and ways to prevent home ignition through understanding plant flammability and firescaping design. The presentation will also address ways to maintain wildlife habitat with firescaping. This Zoom training will include presentations, “interactive” activities, and a discussion period.

Speaker: Holly Campbell, Public Service Assistant, University of Georgia, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources. Project Manager for the USDA-NIFA Smith-Lever funded project, Preparing for Wildfires with Firescapin

Conservation Advocacy 101 for HOAs and Condo Associations

Do you live in an HOA or Condo Association? Have you been thinking about how you can better our natural world through work in your community and/or on the common property of your association? Maybe you’ve been considering a tree planting or tree replacement policy, thinking about better lawn maintenance practices, or wanting to install a pollinator garden.

Join Renee Grebe through the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and attend their Conservation Advocacy 101 Workshops. They’ll be holding this two times – pick whichever date works best for you. They will cover some key introductory advocacy skills like identifying issues and ideas for solutions, researching and communicating ideas, developing an action plan, talking to decision-makers, and building community partnerships to broaden support for your issue.

You’ll get a chance to think about your own community, begin developing your own action plan, and participate in breakout discussions. Please RSVP to ensure you get a Zoom link prior to the webinar.

Thursday May 14th – 10am – 11:30am –
Wednesday June 17th – 7pm – 8:30pm –

ANS is asking for a nominal donation of $5-$15 to support their conservation work for this webinar, but it will be worth your while! There is much to learn about a long-term successful approach to driving change locally. This webinar will be geared toward community associations, but the skills are translatable broadly for advocacy work you seek to do on your own.

Bird Behavior Course – Webinar

With: Bill Young 
When: May 20, 21, 27, 28; June 3, 4, 10, 11, 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Fee: $40 for all sessions
Register here

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for 8 one-hour sessions examining a variety of bird behaviors, including avian feeding, reproduction, migration, visual and auditory displays and more. Each session will feature video, audio and photographs to help people learn about the many aspects of bird behavior. Classes will draw on the knowledge Bill has gained from birding locally and on all seven continents.

Instructor: Bill Young is a writer who lives in Arlington. He is the author of The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat (Dover, 2014). He is the co-creator of the website, which contains information about birds, plants and other aspects of the natural history at Monticello Park in Alexandria. Bill also makes nature videos, and his YouTube channel has had over half a million views.

Sustainable Landscaping Solutions for Faith Communities, June 14

When: June 14, 2:00-4:30 pm

Where: Either via videoconference or St. Peter’s in the Woods, Fairfax Station, VA

Join Plant NoVa Natives as they discuss how and why faith communities are using their places of worship to demonstrate stewardship of the Earth. Learn more.

Native Bee Species Ebb and Flow with Native Plants Bloom: A Year’s Calendar with Sam Droege, watch webinar

Zoom Video Conference
Held Thursday, 14 May 2020
Watch recorded presentation

All of our nearly 500 species of native bees are dependent on pollen to feed their young. No flowers, no bees. Like flowers, each bee species has its season. During a bee’s flight time they are often dependent on the pollen from only a small group of plants, ignoring the rest.

What you plant has consequences for the bees you support on your property. Travel through a year in the region, tracking the flowers and their bees, or…the bees and their flowers (depending on your point of view!)

Sam Droege has been spent most of his career at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. He has coordinated the North American Breeding Bird Survey Program, developed the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, the BioBlitz, Cricket Crawl, and FrogwatchUSA programs and worked on the design and evaluation of monitoring programs. Currently he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees, online identification guides for North American bees at, and with Jessica Zelt reviving the North American Bird Phenology Program. His group maintains high resolution photographs of insects and other macro natural history objects at:

Continuing education credit available for master naturalists.

Create Helpful Habitat with Native Planting, Virtual Learning

Looking for a reason to get out into nature?  How about making your property more wildlife-friendly by adding plants native to Virginia?  Find out why this is important during this webinar hosted by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia’s Audubon at Home program. The webinar was recorded on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, and is also is in celebration of our partnership with Green Muslims during National Arab-American Heritage Month.

Watch the webinar! Master naturalists earn one hour of continuing education credit.

Smithsonian Learning Resources for Families

Learning Lab: A free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources and creating content with online tools. The Learning Lab has an immense amount of content, and the Getting Started guide is a helpful resource. In addition, the weekly Smithsonian Activities Choice Boards features weekly highlights for various subject areas. Issue One and Issue Two are available now. New issues are released each Monday.

Smithsonian Open Access: Allows students to download, share and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images without asking permission because they have been released into the public domain.

Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Program: Allows the general public to make things like historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible. Students can join fellow volunteers to add more field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, manuscripts, biodiversity specimen labels and more to the collection.

Sidedoor: A podcast for students that enlists the help of biologists, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists to tell engaging and educational stories. (Check out this one in particular, on Alexander von Humboldt: His might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them scary. It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this episode, we learn how Humboldt—through science and art—inspired a key part of America’s national identity.)

Resources for PK-5: SI has also created a large google sheet with online self-directed activities for parents and caregivers that allows them to assign to children in PK-5 grades. Most of these resources are interactive games and activities.

SI Office Hours: SI is also offering office hours to better support teachers who are using these SI resources. Teachers are able to connect with a Smithsonian educator and ask further questions on how to best use the SI tools and features being offered.

Other Smithsonian Resources

Student Discovery Sets: Puts primary sources in student’s hands by bringing together historical artifacts and documents on a wide range of topics. The Student Discovery Sets are free on iBooks.

Digital Collections: Over 400 digital collections are available online, featuring content from U.S. Presidents, musicians, inventors, historic newspapers and more.

By the People: A crowdsourcing initiative that allows anyone to volunteer to improve access to history by transcribing, reviewing and tagging Library of Congress documents.

Classic Children’s books: Available for free online via the Library website.

The Library of Congress YouTube Channel: Contains a wide range of author programming, as well as content from scholars and musicians.

Ask a Librarian: The tool remains available to the public, with Librarians available to answer questions and provide research assistance.

The Library’s National Screening Room: Showcase the Library’s vast moving image collection. It is designed to make otherwise unavailable movies, both copyrighted and in the public domain, freely accessible to viewers worldwide.

Presentations and Activities: Presentations look across the Library’s online collections to explore events and issues from U.S. history and beyond.

Resources from Other Agencies

City Nature Challenge: Fairfax Master Naturalists educate and organize

By Ana Ka’ahanui, FMN and Director Experiential Programs at Capital Nature

Join us for the #citynaturechallenge, a friendly global effort to safely explore biodiversity April 24-27, 2020! Even with our movement limited to minimize the spread of COVID-19, there is plenty of nature to observe at our windows, gardens, and in our neighborhoods. Join the DC metro area’s fellow citizen scientists to discover and share the amazing life near you!

Join these projects to have your observations counted. City Nature Challenge (April 24-27)
City Nature Month (April 1-30)

Visit and join the project City Nature Challenge 2020: Washington DC Metro Area:

Photo and article by Barbara J. Saffir

To encourage people to participate in iNaturalist’s global “City Nature Challenge” bioblitz in April, I’m hosting two virtual Meetups: One through my own Nature  Photography DC/MD/VA Meetup and one through the  Sierra Club’s Meetup.  My fellow Virginia Master Naturalists and the public are invited to join these two free Meetups:

Earth Day 50th Anniversary Nature Journaling Challenge April 22 to 30, 2020

Article and drawings by Elaine Sevy

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, I invite you to embrace this Nature Journaling Challenge and connect with nature on a more profound level.

Nature Journaling forces you to slow down and pay attention to what is around you. It will help you encounter beauty and wonder you would have otherwise missed.

Visit a nearby trail or explore your own backyard.

Allow yourself to relax and have fun, and worry less about drawing pretty pictures and more about creating a memory. Write notes about what you’re seeing, and let it pique your curiosity.

Do you have a favorite wild bird? Do you wonder if that bird is a resident or migrant? Look at it more closely and be amazed. Learn more about it at (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and Write in your journal about what you see and learn, and develop a deep personal relationship with your bird.

Drawing by Elaine Sevy

Find a new pretty wild plant or look closely at one of your favorites and count the petals. Do the petals have stripes similar to a landing pad leading pollinators to the nectar? What kind of bee did I just see on that flower?

Make sure to note the place, date, time, weather, sounds, temperature, and how the experience makes you feel.

Consider downloading the iNaturalist App on your cell phone to help you identify the plants and animals you find. Visit to learn about and participate in the City Nature Challenge 2020: Washington DC Metro Area, April 24-27. There’s a link under announcements on the Capital Naturalist Facebook page.

Include your family and children, and make it a game to find as many insects, birds, frogs, flowers, mushrooms, etc., as possible. Quickly draw little images of each critter on the same Earth Day journal page.

Want inspiration and ideas about how to create a journal page? There’s support groups that can help. Join The NOVA Nature Journal Club at Once there, you can find a link to John Muir Laws’ The Nature Journal Club, which has an international following, free workshops and tools of all kinds. Copy ideas from other people, which will give you a new lens to look through. Let someone else’s journal page ignite your own creativity.

A good basic Nature Journaling kit includes: 6×8” or 5×7”sketchbook (at least 100 lb. weight paper to handle light watercolor washes), a mechanical pencil or 2B drawing pencil, pencil sharpener, kneaded eraser, a waterproof ink pen such as a Pigma Micron 05, set of watercolor pencils (Derwent is a good brand), a Pentel Aquash Water Brush and a paper towel. Also bring your cell phone for photo references, and binoculars. A shoulder bag makes your tools easily accessible.

Try your best to do some nature journaling on Earth Day, but there’s no pressure. Enjoy working on your journal through the end of April for this challenge.

Please submit photos of your journal pages to me (Elaine Sevy), so I can share them with others on Springfield Art Guild’s (SAG’s) Facebook Page and The NOVA Nature Journal Club Facebook Group.

Learn about Spring Warblers on line through ASNV, April 15, 16, 22 and 23

Get ready for spring by learning about the largest and most colorful family of birds who visit the Washington area. Warblers are some of the most challenging birds to identify – they are often small and fast moving with distinctive but easily confused calls and songs. This 4-part FREE Audubon Society of Northern Virginia webinar will help you learn warbler plumages, behaviors and vocalizations. Each webinar will start at 7 p.m. and last about an hour. 

Instructor: Bill Young is a writer who lives in Arlington. He is the author of The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat (Dover, 2014). He is the co-creator of the website, which contains information about birds, plants and other aspects of the natural history at Monticello Park in Alexandria. Bill also makes nature videos, and his YouTube channel has had over half a million views.

Class 1 – Plumage (Wednesday, April 15)
Learn about the appearance of the 30+ species of wood warblers who visit during the spring.

Class 2 – Behavior (Thursday, April 16)
Learn about the behavior of the 30+ species of wood warblers who visit during the spring.

Class 3 – Vocalizations Part 1 (Wednesday, April 22)
Most warblers are heard before they are seen. Learn how to identify their vocalizations so that you will be better able to find them in the field.

Class 4 – Vocalizations Part 2 (Thursday, April 23)
Most warblers are heard before they are seen. Learn how to identify their vocalizations so that you will be better able to find them in the field.

The series was recorded and can be accessed here.