Message to Master Naturalists from Michelle Prysby

Dear Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers—I hope that you all are safe and well. I’ve been in contact with all the VMN chapter board members and advisors regularly over the last week, and I wanted to take time now to reach out to all of our volunteers.

First, I would like to holler three cheers for all of our chapter leaders. They have been doing a great job pivoting as necessary given the ever-changing circumstances. They have had to gather information and preferences from a lot of people, make decisions about canceling events, learn new technologies to move meetings online, and a lot more. Terri, Tiffany, and I are all extremely appreciative of their efforts.

Second, I want to use this platform to ask all of you to take the guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC, and the Governor’s office regarding COVID-19 very seriously. The most civic-minded act we all can do right now is to avoid in-person interactions and physically distance ourselves as much as possible. I know you all are very committed to your VMN volunteer work. Please put that work on hold if you cannot do it safely. Some people may even want to stop some volunteer work and projects that don’t require group gatherings, just because they want to conserve their mental and physical energy right now. That’s completely fine. Other projects may continue because people have the energy to do them and because they can be done safely.

Third, you’ll notice I did not use the term “social distancing”, and that’s because your fellow volunteers, friends, and family need connection now more than ever. Use the time you might have spent at all those events that are now canceled instead reaching out (in a safe way) to people you know. If there are safe ways to volunteer in your community to help the COVID-19 response effort, that could be a good way to re-direct your inclination to volunteer. 

Fourth, in the spirit of staying connected, I plan to be ramping up our Continuing Education webinars in the coming weeks. I had a couple of our regular webinars already lined up, and I will add to these so that there are more learning experiences available to you. I’ll announce those on our CE webinar webpage at http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/continuing-education-webinar-series.html and via our CE Webinar mailing list. You can join that mailing list by going to http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/receive-communications.html and clicking the “Email Alert Sign-Up”. 

Fifth, I am very proud and fortunate to work with Virginia Cooperative Extension, an agency that is providing great leadership, community assistance, and public information during this crisis. VCE now has a public webpage with COVID-19 resources at https://ext.vt.edu/covid-19updates/resources.html. Every day, additional fact sheets and other information is added there.We are so fortunate that spending time in nature, so long as we are not in close contact with other humans or sharing our binoculars, is safe! I have noticed more families than ever spending time outside in the park and trail near my house, which gives me a lot of hope. 

Spring is springing, and I hope that you will be able to spot your favorite wildflower in bloom, hear the birds singing, and watch the forests turn green again as the leaves emerge.

Stay well, Michelle Prysby, VMN Program Director

Bluebells at the Bend Festival, April 11th–CANCELED!

Riverbend Park
8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls VA
Saturday, 11 April 2020
10am – 3pm

Celebrate the Virginia Bluebells that carpet the early spring forest at Riverbend Park!

Pre-sale tickets are $7 online until April 10th, regular tickets are $9 at the gate.

Enjoy
• Wildflower Walks
• Live Music
• Face Painting
• Live Animals
• Moon bounce
• Obstacle Course
• Wagon Rides
• Puppet Show
• Eagle Scope
• Crafts, games, and more!

Bonus: Friends of Riverbend Park will be selling bluebells from a native plant nursery. Pots will be $10/plant. Proceeds benefit FORB and help us assist Riverbend Park.

Event is rain or shine. For questions call 703-759-9018.

Local Native Plant Sales in Full Bloom

Native plants help baby songbirds, butterflies, our ecosystem and support clean water. They need no fertilizer, no extra watering once they are established,no pesticides and no lawn mowing.

Check out this list of native plant sales and start digging!

City Nature Challenge Educator Workshop, Mar. 28th

National Geographic headquarters
1145 17th St NW, Washington DC 20036
(near Farragut West and Farragut North Metro stations)
Saturday, 28 March 2020
9:30am – Noon
Breakfast will be provided

Over 250 cities around the world are participating in a friendly competition to see which metro area can observe and identify the most wildlife. You can contribute with your students or youth group! Your observations will help document the many species that live in our region, contribute to a worldwide database of urban wildlife—and help the Washington DC metro area win the City Nature Challenge (CNC)!

Come to National Geographic to learn about the CNC, practice collecting observations, and share ideas about how to integrate CNC activities into your classroom or group.

The workshop will be a great resource for educators, formal or informal, who have been thinking about participating in the City Nature Challenge but want to get better acquainted with the tools.

There is no cost, but registration is limited. Please do share the invitation with others; each person needs to register separately for security purposes.

Register here. Contact Mary Ford with questions.

5th Annual Watershed Cleanup in April

April 4, 5, 11 and 18th
9am – 12pm
Over 20 local parks—find one near you!

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the Fairfax County Park Authority to host their Fifth Annual Watershed Cleanup at parks throughout Fairfax County. This spring cleaning will remove tires, plastic bottles, can and other debris from local waterways, preventing trash from reaching the nation’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. One thousand volunteers are needed!

Online registration is available starting March 16th.

Questions? Contact Holly Lafferty, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy.

Earth Day Fairfax Festival (formerly Springfest), April 25th–CANCELED!

Sully Historic Site
3650 Historic Sully Way, Chantilly VA
Saturday, 25 April 2020
10am – 4pm
Parking $10 per car

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, so come out to celebrate at the Sully Historic Site! There will be a fun day packed with entertainment, activities, food vendors, Touch-A-Truck, prizes, and more! Learn more about how we can all support our event theme of “Healthy People – Healthy Planet” and all that Fairfax County is doing to support environmental sustainability.

Volunteers needed!

Download the flyer.

NOVA Green Festival 2020, April 15th–CANCELED!

NOVA Annandale Campus
Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center (CE Building)
8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale VA
Wednesday, 15 April 2020
9am – 3pm

The theme for this year’s event is “Waste and its impact on habitats.” The purpose of NOVA’s Annual Green Festival is to increase both the college and local community awareness of regional, national and global environmental issues and provide information regarding ways that individuals can help preserve the environment. Participants at this community event will include faculty, staff, students and local community members. While the target audience is high school and college students, the event is free and open to the public.

The festival will be a combination of presentations, panel discussions, interactive demonstrations and informational displays. It will help the audience to recognize ways to conserve resources, promote change and make difference as individuals.

Get the full schedule here.

Downloadable and printable flyer here.

Spring Orientation, Spring & Summer Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities at Riverbend Park

Spring is around the corner! Check out the many opportunities available at Riverbend Park. Park staff and volunteer coordinator Valeria Espinosa hope you can join them for any of these projects and events!

Spring & Summer Natural Resource Internships (18+)  

Interested in working for the Resource Management Division? Apply to the NEW internship program and get hands-on experience working alongside Natural Resources Manager, Rita Peralta. Applications accepted now until filled. 

Sign up here: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/184394

Contact: rita.peralta@fairfaxcounty.gov 

Spring Volunteer Orientation: Preserving Our Parks! 

Saturday 3/14 | 9:00 AM | 8814 Jeffery Road, Great Falls, VA 22066 

Riverbend has many exciting projects in store and several positions available. Come learn about theprograms and get started on a field project or training right away! 

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/185556  

Invasive Removal Team! 

Join the Invasive Removal team and help lead the effort to reduce the spread of invasive plants at Riverbend Park. Volunteers can join monthly removal events, Adopt-a-Spot, and/or assist with field surveying and monitoring. Scheduling is flexible! If you are interested contact Valeria and sign up for orientation on 3/14

GET INVOLVED! valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov  

Invasive Removal Days: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/184647  

Teaching Docent! (18+) 

Interested in Northern Virginia’s natural resources and heritage? Become a Teaching Docent and share your passion for the outdoors through Riverbend’s school programs involving history, nature, and science. Don’t worry, they will train you! 

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179279 

Resource Naturalist!

If you are interested in monthly/bi-monthly volunteering at Riverbend Park and/or Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, join our Resource Management Team! Become a Resource Naturalist and get involved in Wildlife surveys, Wildflower Surveys, Field Surveys, Trail Restoration, Invasive Control, Planting projects, and more! 

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179280  

Trail Work Days! 

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/185491 

ESLI Volunteer Coordinator (18+) 

Looking for organization leadership experience? The Environmental Student Leadership Initiative (ESLI) is seeking a lead coordinator to work with high school student leaders on managing this environmental education organization. 

APPLY HERE: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/185533

Riverbend Gardener! 

Support our gardens at Riverbend Park! Volunteer 2-3 times a month and help our native gardens thrive.  

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/184766 

Bluebell Festival! April 11th 

SIGN UP: https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/180932 

For more opportunities CLICK HERE!  

Questions? Email Valeria at valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov

Science Fair Judges Needed, Mar. 25th

New School of Northern Virginia
9431 Silver King Ct. Fairfax, VA (off Pickett Road near Rt. 50)
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
4:30 – 7:30pm
Dinner provided

The New School of Northern Virginia is seeking volunteer judges for their annual Science Fest. They would appreciate your valuable feedback for their students’ projects! They have several biology and environmental science-based research projects and original experiments. A science background is helpful. In addition to the satisfaction of helping the science education community, judges will receive a certificate of appreciation and a casual catered dinner (Baja Fresh).

Sign up here.

Master naturalists: Service hour credit is available using code E152: Science Fair Judge at Fairfax County Science Fairs. Participants please make a note where your service occurred

Spring Warblers, Mar. 30th and April 1st–CANCELED! All ASNV programs through April 30th are canceled or rescheduled

Alexandria Country Day School
2400 Russell Road, Alexandria VA
Monday, 30 March and Wednesday, 1 April 2020
7 – 9:30 pm
$40 ASNV members; $45 nonmembers

Get ready for spring by learning about the largest and most colorful family of birds who visit the Washington area. Presented by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.

Class 1 – Plumage and Behavior (March 30th)
Learn about the appearance and behavior of the 30+ species of wood warblers who visit during the spring.

Class 2 – Vocalizations (April 1st)
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.

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 MPNature.com 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 close to a half a million views.

Register here.