Butterflies, Waterwise Gardening, Groundcovers and more – Webinars abound!

The Hospitable Gardener
When: July 17, 10-11:30am
Are you interested in inviting butterflies to visit your garden? This talk will help you learn how to be a good host to Lepidoptera, providing cultural tips and plant suggestions to help your winged guests feel at home. Learn more and register.

Groundcovers
When: July 22, 11am-12pm
Do you have spots in your landscape that turf won’t grow, have high erosion potential or you would like to add a little seasonal interest, color and texture? Plan to attend this seminar to help you choose the right groundcover for each place in your landscape. Learn more.

Fruit Trees and Berries for the Urban Landscape: Part II – Natives
When: July 24, 10-11:30am
From shade to supporting wildlife, erosion control, and screening, you can choose a fruit crop to suit your home garden. Learn about growth habits, pros and cons, and how to acquire and care for these native plants. Learn more and register.

Waterwise Gardening
When: July 31, 10-11:30am
We will discuss which plants can best survive our long, hot summers, how to group plants to take advantage of existing water sources, and use of water gardens, rain barrels, and best landscaping practices. Learn more and register.

Soil Your Undies Campaign

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is challenging residents all across Fairfax County to bury a pair of cotton underwear as part of a campaign to promote soil health awareness. How does it work? Just bury a pair of cotton underwear and dig it back up after at least 60 days. It’s the quick and dirty way to test the microbial activity in your soil. The more the underwear is deteriorated, the healthier your soil!

Although you can use the Soil Your Undies Challenge to check your soil health at any time, the 2020 NVSWCD Soil Your Undies Challenge runs from July to September 2020.

JOIN THE CHALLENGE!
Step 1: Look for a place where you want to study the health of the soil. Make sure you are only studying sites on your property or with the permission of the landowner.
Step 2: Bury a pair of white cotton undies (or any white cotton clothing item) 3 inches under the soil’s surface. Be sure to take a “before” photo.
Step 3: Don’t forget to mark your study site with a flag or other easily-identifiable marker!
Step 4: Wait at least 60 days (this is the hard part…)
Step 5: Locate your marked study site and dig up your cotton undies. Be sure to take an “after” photo.
Step 6: How healthy is your soil? Healthier soils have a lot of microbial activity, and the healthy fungi and bacteria in the soil will break down your cotton undies. The more degraded your undies are, the more microbial activity you have in your soil, and the healthier your soil is.
Step 7: Share the results of your citizen science project! Email your photos and any notes you may have to conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov, and share your results with us on Facebook @nvswcd and on Instagram @NorthernVirginiaSWCD. We’ll be sharing our results with you, too!

Learn more about the challenge and soil health here.

Annual Butterfly Count at Clifton Institute

Saturday, July 25, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Join Clifton Institute, as they host their 25th annual butterfly count and celebrate their 18th year of collaboration with the North American Butterfly Association. 

Novice and experienced butterfly enthusiasts are needed! Citizen scientists will be assigned to small teams, led by an experienced butterfly counter. Teams will survey a variety of sites within our count circle.

Fee: $3 per person (Children 8 and older may participate for free, when accompanied by a parent.)

Register here

Communicating and Acting on Climate Change: A Success Story from Thriving Earth Exchange

Hallandale Beach, Florida operates a Green Initiatives Program within its Department of Public Works to provide sustainability-related information and programs to residents and employees. Most of the City’s Green Initiatives work focuses on Water and Energy Conservation and Recycling. A main impetus for the water conservation focus includes the loss of 6 out of 8 of the City’s freshwater wells to saltwater intrusion in the past decade. In 2018, the City adopted the Sustainability Action Plan which includes short-term and long-term projects to help the City increase its sustainability and resiliency between now and 2040.

Thriving Earth Exchange supported this program. Keep reading for details of how the team carried out its mission, their sensible reflections, and a link to a nifty table top climate change awareness game that you can download and reproduce for your own workshops or classes.

This is a wonderful success story.

Nature’s Notebook Mobile App Course

The Observer Certification Course provides instructions to help you get started using Nature’s Notebook, or provide a refresher if you need one! The organization just released the second module which provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the Nature’s Notebook mobile app. You will learn how to use the app to set up your account, create sites, add plants and animals, and enter and review observations. You will need to be logged into your Nature’s Notebook account to take the course.

Take the course 

Create an account if you do not have one

National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation

The National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) is launching a new training opportunity: The NNOCCI Crash Course!

This is a 6-week, 25-hour, fee-based online course for those interested in gaining strategic framing skills. 

NNOCCI is a partnership between climate scientists and informal science educators who have public trust and large audiences, and who are dedicated to using our platforms to have productive conversations about climate action.

We operate as a supportive community of practice using and teaching evidence-based tools to inspire hope and action. Together, we can change the national conversation around climate change to be more positive, productive and solutions-focused.

In the Crash Course, participants will learn basic framing elements including why framing matters, values, metaphors, and solutions. These framing techniques are all based on rigorous social science and have been extensively tested across the United States. Participants will create a final project to demonstrate their framing skills and practice critiquing communications with the framing skill rubric. This course is ideal for those who have an interest in learning more about strategic framing to incorporate these techniques into their personal or professional communications. For more information on NNOCCI Training Offerings, visit www.climateinterpreter.org/training.

Benefits of the NNOCCI Crash Course 

1.    Gain skills to engage others on climate change. Training includes a series of online video modules, facilitated webinars, and practice assignments to provide a comprehensive introduction to strategic framing, an overview of NNOCCI tools and messaging, and access to experienced trainers to support you in crafting impactful climate messages.

2.    Accessible from anywhere. This online, 6-week, 25-hour module provides a comprehensive overview of strategic framing tools from the comfort of your home/office.

3.    Network with like-minded individuals across the country. Expand your professional network and explore the challenges, opportunities, and best practices of climate communication within a supportive community of practice.

4.    Join the NNOCCI Network. NNOCCI has built and fostered a community of practice to help scientists and science educators share best practices and challenges of communicating climate research. NNOCCI’s reach is broad, with a network of more than 440 individual members from 184 informal science learning centers across 38 states.

Course Offerings:

  • Summer Course taking place the weeks of July 12th through August 16th, 2020
  • Fall Course taking place the weeks of October 11th through November 15th, 2020

Course Sizes: Courses will range in size from 20 to 40 participants. For courses with 30+ participants, the cohorts may be divided into smaller groups.

Additional Program Details: The cost of the course is $249/person with additional discounts for attendees joining in groups of 5 (5%), 10 (10%) and 20 (20%) people.

How to Apply: Applications are live. Please reach out to NNOCCI@neaq.org with questions in the meantime.

More info and FAQs: https://climateinterpreter.org/content/nnoccis-new-online-crash-course

Registration: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeS8r2pIoO0igoey_T6awUer6xuARSv24mQd3gXRmSSBpgavw/viewform

A Chance for Some Fun!

Do you work in the Natural Resources field? Do you think you know a lot of about Natural Resources? Do you want a chance to test your knowledge? 

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 Virginia Dominion Energy Envirothon competition was cancelled and pivoted to an online testing week where 9th-12th graders from all of Virginia tested their knowledge in Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife and Water Resource Management.

But seeing the interest, the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation wanted to offer a chance for adults to test their knowledge in Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and Water Resource Management.

WHAT: The Natural Resources (Adult) Test Week will be 5 tests. Each test will have a 25-minute time limit.

Test Areas include:

  • Aquatics
  • Forestry
  • Soils
  • Wildlife
  • Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions

You can sign up to take one or all of the tests.

HOW: To sign up to take the tests, visit this link to register.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7H6T585

If you register, you agree to not look up answers.

WHAT THEN? You will receive links to the test(s) on Monday, June 22, and must complete the test(s) by midnight on Sunday, June 28. Top scoring participants will be recognized by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) Facebook page.

Please share this email with anyone you know who would be interested in testing their natural resources knowledge.

QUESTIONS: Please email Bonnie Mahl: Bonnie.Mahl@vaswcd.org

Website www.vaswcd.org

DEQ Environmental Justice Webinar, June 17

Wednesday, June 17, 6-8 p.m

The DEQ webinar will share perspectives on Environmental Justice and will be held in both English and Spanish. This will be followed with a survey to gather additional community perspectives.

DEQ is currently doing an environmental justice study and will be holding a webinar (in both English and Spanish) to share feedback and perspectives from statewide interviews that Skeo Solutions has conducted thus far. Informed by best practices of other state and federal regulatory agencies, the Skeo team has conducted more than 70 interviews with a wide cross-section of stakeholders across Virginia, including representatives from EJ communities and organizations, environmental organizations, regulated agriculture and industry, local government, state environmental boards and DEQ staff. The interviews focused on understanding different experiences with EJ and DEQ’s programs, as well as perspectives on potential challenges and opportunities to advance EJ within DEQ programs.

Following the webinars, a public survey will be available to gather additional community perspectives.

Please share this information with anyone who would be interested in joining the webinar, or in these materials afterwards. See DEQ’s news release below for more details. You will need to register for the webinar to receive a link. 

The webinar will also be recorded and posted to the DEQ website below, along with the survey link and the slide presentation for anyone wishing to provide additional feedback on how DEQ can effectively support and advance environmental justice through their programs. www.DEQ.Virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalJustice.aspx

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Questions? Greg Bilyeu, Director of Communications

1111 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 698-4107

 gregory.bilyeu@deq.virginia.gov 

Nature in a Time of Crisis: A Conversation with Melanie Choukas-Bradley

Jun 12, 2020, 1:00 PM

Join Capital Nature and Park Rx America for a timely discussion with naturalist and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley. Inspired by her new book: Resilience: Connecting with Nature in a Time of Crisis, the program will explore how a relationship with nature can nurture and support our wellbeing during COVID-19 and other crisis times.

Melanie will share highlights from her interviews with aspiring and seasoned naturalists across the country. She will offer practical advice for: “how to establish a wild home; how to develop nature connection as a mindfulness practice such as integrating meditation, yoga and tai chi; how to become a backyard naturalist and weave nature appreciation and study into your home schooling and how to develop new ways of seeing and being in the world.” We will also hear from DC-area residents who have found new ways to engage with nature for their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their families.

This event is co-hosted with Park Rx America. We invite you to listen in and join us for the conversation!

Register here

Become a Virginia Master Gardener, Fall 2020!

Green Spring Gardens Master Gardeners Unit is seeking applicants for their upcoming Fall 2020 training session. Due to COVID restrictions, they’ve developed a training program that is COVID compliant and meets the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener basic training for Master Gardener certification criteria. If you like gardening (you don’t have to be expert at it), if you like volunteering outdoors and/or providing outreach and education to promote eco-savvy sustainable horticultural practices, and you want to join a great group with a purpose, become a Green Spring Master Gardener! They have a wide range of projects for all abilities and interests across the county.

Green Spring Gardens, a Fairfax County Park which focuses on demonstration gardens, sponsors an Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension. Go online to: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring/master-gardeners and learn what EMGs do.

They are planning for a blended Master Gardener training program this fall with Covid-19 safety protocols in mind. Online modules will be part of the program so a computer or tablet with good internet service are required tools for the success of the program. They will also have weekly get-togethers via Zoom platform with speakers, labs and Q & A sessions. If they meet for hands-on labs, it will be with social distancing in mind for the safety of all participants. If you are interested in joining the Green Spring Master Gardener Training Program, please contact Pamela Smith, EMG Coordinator at pamela.smith2@fairfaxcounty.gov for an application and further information. Classes begin September 17.