Stop Mowing, Start Growing! Webinar, February 6th

Photo courtesy of Virginia Native Plant Society

3rd Annual Native Plant Symposium Webinar for Beginners
Saturday, February 6, 2021
9am – Noon
Registration fee $5
Register here.

Create a beautiful yard, save time and money, improve water quality, AND build habitat for pollinators and birds. The keynote speaker is Alonso Abugattas, The Capital Naturalist on social media and the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County. He will speak on The Interconnectedness of Nature.

Breakout Sessions Topics
Establishing and Maintaining Meadows
Natives for the Suburban Yard
Trees: Reestablishing the Cornerstone of Our Ecosystem
Waterfront Properties and Native Plants
Natives for Small Properties
Introduction to Soils
Site Assessment and Design

View the full schedule here.

Waterfowl Identification Webinar with Bill Young, January 11th & 12th

Hooded Mergansers, photo by Bill Young

Two sessions:
Monday, January 11, 2021 7-8 pm
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 7-8:30 pm
Fee: $25
Limit: 150
To register, click here.

Waterfowl can be easy to see, but difficult to tell apart. This two-part program, presented by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, will provide techniques for identifying ducks, geese, and swans. It will also show how to identify other species typically seen on the water, such as loons, grebes, cormorants, and coots. Suitable for beginning and skilled birders. Practice your skills during the second session with a fun Kahoot!

Native Southern Flying Squirrels Webinar, February 17th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
7 pm
To receive the Zoom link, register at info@fodm.org and put “Flying Squirrels” in the subject line

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh for a presentation by naturalist, Kim Young and explore the often hidden life of the native southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans). Learn how to look for them, their adaptations for nocturnal living and the truth about their ability to “fly.”

Wine to Water Filter Build: Create A Meaningful Experience for Your Family and Community

Conservation, community service, hands-on environmental engineering, and social justice intersect in the work of Wine to Water, a North Carolina-based 501 (c) (3) nonprofit whose mission is to support life and dignity through the power of clean water.

The organization enables many ways to participate, one of which is Filter Build, a guided experience to build small, portable water filters that the organization distributes to communities in the U.S., Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Nepal, Tanzania, and elsewhere. Here is a copy of their 2018-2019 Annual Report, which presents the results of their work in both quantitative and human terms.

Do Fairfax County residents need these filters themselves? Nope.

Can Fairfax County residents and Master Naturalists host virtual events to actually build them for communities that do? You bet.

Might we, our children and grandchildren, and our neighbors learn about some of the engineering that goes into making water potable? Yup, that, too.

Learn one, do one, teach one?

Start here–with a video by founder Doc Hendley.

Winter Wildlife Festival, January 28th-31st

Join the City of Virginia Beach for a month-long celebration of coastal wildlife and nature culminating January 28-31! They’re going the distance this year and presenting virtual and in-person components to ensure a safe, yet engaging experience for all.

See all the festival highlights here.
Virtual workshops are here.

Integrating Storm Water Management in Landscape Design, February 20th

Step Pool Conveyance System photo from Green Spring Extension Master Gardeners

The 17th Annual EcoSavvy Symposium
Saturday, February 20, 2021
9:30am – 12:30 pm
Cost: $26 in-county/$28 out-of-county
Registration (703) 642-5173 or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes
Code ITG.QARB

Learn innovative techniques to capture, store and collect rainwater.
Presented by VCE Green Spring Master Gardeners. Speakers are Dr. Laurie Fox, Horticulture Associate, Virginia Tech, Hampton Roads Agriculture Research & Extension Center and Christine Horner, Water Quality Engineer, Town of Vienna.
Also, a presentation on Virginia Conservation Assistance Program by Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.

FMN Annual Chapter Meeting includes Lanternfly Training, December 14th

Photo from nps.gov

Monday, December 14, 2020
7 – 8:30 pm
Request Zoom link by emailing vmnfairfax@gmail.com

Rachel Griesmer will talk about spotted lanternfly, an invasive planthopper new to Virginia. Rachel is an urban forester with Fairfax County Forest Pest Management Branch. She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental biology and botany from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in forest ecology and management from Michigan Technological University. She holds certifications from the International Society of Arboriculture as a Certified Arborist as wells as a Qualified Tree Risk Assessor and has participated in suppression programs for invasive insects.

The meeting will also include the graduation of our Spring 2020 Basic Training class and an election for some key board positions.

American Energy Innovation: The Federal Policy Landscape

This Zoom Webinar was held on Dec. 14, 2020, noon-1 pm

Here is a recording of the session.

Decarbonizing the US economy will require substantial investment in research, development, and deployment of technologies that have not yet entered the marketplace at large scale. There is bipartisan support for federal policy to support such clean energy innovation—particularly under the auspices of the American Energy Innovation Act, a multi-billion-dollar piece of legislation currently under consideration in the US Senate. (A companion bill, the Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act, was passed by the US House of Representatives in September 2020.)

Join Resources for the Future (RFF) at this important moment for innovation policy as they host a conversation, “American Energy Innovation: The Federal Policy Landscape.” Their distinguished set of panelists—including one of the lead architects of the American Energy Innovation Act—will discuss what parts of the innovation ecosystem policy can most readily support; how past innovation policies in the United States have fared, both in the energy sector and elsewhere; how the private sector takes signals from policies; and how the discussion around energy innovation policy has unfolded on Capitol Hill over the past year.

Speakers

  • Colin Cunliff, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • Spencer Nelson, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • Richard G. Newell, Resources for the Future
  • Kristin Hayes, Resources for the Future (moderator)

Additional speakers to be announced.

About the Advanced Energy Technologies Project

RFF’s Advanced Energy Technologies Project uses new research to incorporate a number of these advanced technologies into our E4ST power sector model, which offers a detailed representation of the grid and is widely used in policy analysis related to power sector decarbonization.

The related events series covers topics such as carbon capture and sequestration, advanced nuclear energy, enhanced geothermal systems, energy storage, and direct air capture. The series will conclude with an additional event showcasing the results of RFF’s analysis of how various policy proposals will drive investment in and deployment of these technologies.

RSVP

Learning Path: The Circular Economy in Detail

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is sponsoring a free, self-paced class on the circular economy, which they describe thus:

“A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the “take-make-waste” linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources. After defining what an economy actually is, this learning path explores the nuances of the concept of a circular economy with text, videos, and interactive and reflective exercises. It probes the difference between biological and technical materials, the different opportunities that exist to keep materials and products in use, and the history of the idea.”

Super interesting material and great user interface–they both make a compelling case and make it easy to engage with the content. By the time you complete the reading, videos, and exercises, the benefits of shifting from a linear to a circular economy will be clear as will how they apply to all of the work we do as naturalists.

This opportunity is approved for CE credit for FMN members.

Check back regularly for links to additional resources from which you can learn more and, maybe, will want to review for us here. This subject is amazingly rich. Please share your thoughts and resources in comments and we’ll add them to this repo.

Hope Jahren: The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where We Go From Here. Honestly, the entire book is quotable, but here are some take-aways from one early Sunday morning: “An effort tempered by humility will go much further than one armored with righteousness…. We [scientists] are watching and working, not just worrying. Climate science is part of science after all…. Having hope requires courage. It matters how we talk about this. Everything we do matters.” (Consider starting with Appendix 1: The Action You Take, and then go dig into the data in the rest of the book.) By the way, she reads the audio book herself, and she’s a kind teacher.

Joel Onorato: Stop Going Round in Circles About the Circular Economy; also see his awesome presentation to the Sierra Club as pdf or live (along with the materials of the other panelists). “Keeping materials in use means preserving the maximum value of each thing that has been produced for the longest time possible. Reuse it as long as you can (give it to another user or share it). Repair it if you can’t reuse it as is. Or, if it has too little value, then remanufacture it (turn it back into something with an as-new condition). At worst, break it down and recycle each material (or compost it) for another future use.”

Rare’s Inspiring Human Nature: Tim Ma, Chef and Garbage Picker. “Tim Ma embraces his garbage. The famed Washington, DC-area chef and restaurateur is notorious for turning food trash into dinner treasure—which he does both for environmental sustainability and his bottom-line. ‘I don’t know how I became DC’s food waste champion,’ he laughs. ‘But I love talking about it.’” Meet someone who walks his talk.

Jonathan Safran Foer: We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. The term circular economy never appears in this book because it’s about particular decisions we make and “our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home. And it all starts with what we eat—and don’t eat—for breakfast.” Please don’t let that stop you from considering his case and drawing your own insights. He wields data as effectively as Hope Jahren, and he tells a story just as compelling.

2020 Christmas Bird Counts and Alternatives

Photo of Eastern Towhee by Bob Howdesell, CBC

Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count
When: Monday, December 28, 2020
Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy as they participate in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. The count circle has a 15-mile diameter and covers 177 square miles of Loudoun’s countryside: north to Waterford, south to Aldie, east to Ashburn, and west to Purcellville. LWC will not be holding an in-person Tally Rally this year but may do something virtual. If you are interested in participating for just a couple of hours or the entire day, sign up here.

Reston Association’s Winter Bird Count
When: Saturday, January 2, 2021 7 am – 12 pm
Half-day annual bird count throughout Reston natural areas. Meet local bird experts, obtain tips on identification, and help with collecting vital information about our feathered friends. Register using code 106201205 or call (703) 476-9689, ext. 5, by December 30th.

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia plans to hold the 39th Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December 20. This year’s count will be different, in light of the pandemic.

Instead of recruiting new participants, they will be limiting the count to last year’s participants who want to do the count under conditions that conform with pandemic restrictions, including wearing masks, maintaining social distance and carpooling with household members only. Instead of their count day lunch gathering, they will have an online “tally rally” in the evening of count day. If you participated in last year’s count, you should have received a message about participating this year.

If you were looking forward to volunteering for the first time for this CBC, they hope you’ll understand and volunteer next year. BUT there are still ways you can join the spirit of the count! Consider these possibilities or invent your own:

Join the Free Zoom CBC Celebration and Summary:

Learn about highlights of this year’s CBC and celebrate with the CBC community. Register here.

Do Your Own Count:

Walk through your neighborhood or visit a park or refuge to gather observations and report your personal findings via eBird. (see below) Be sure to practice social distancing and wear a mask if within six feet of others!

Learn More About Useful Identification and Database Applications:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a suite of useful tools and sites related to birding.

Explore many aspects of birding (species, hotspots, regions, etc.) at ebird.org.

You can also take a free course on their eBird smartphone application that allows you to document the species you see or hear. https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/product/ebird-essentials/

Take a free course on using another great smartphone app, Merlin Bird ID and other tools at https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org

Play learning games about birds at https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/learning-games/

Project FeederWatch:

Count birds that visit your feeders from the safety of your home or yard. Submit data from your sightings to contribute to winter and early bird counts. The 2020–21 FeederWatch season began on November 14 and ends on April 9. You can still sign up, and the last day to start a two-day count is April 8. Details are at https://feederwatch.org.

CBC Feeder Watchers:

If you reside in the Manassas-Bull Run CBC circle, you can count your feeder birds on December 20 and send a report that can be included in the official count. Contact the CBC compiler Phil Silas, epsdcva@aol.com for details.