Beavers and Why They Matter, April 1

Photo by Amy Johnson, VWL

Saturday,  April 1, 2023
2:00 PM
Virtual On-Line Program

Free but registration required.


If you have walked Mason Neck State Park’s Bayview Trail, you’ve probably noticed the vibrant
wetlands about halfway along the trail. The wetlands have been improved by a colony of
beavers, whose lodge you can see toward the far end of the wetland. Would you like to learn
more about beavers and their impact on the environment?

Alison Zak, the Executive Director of the Human-Beaver Coexistence Fund (HBCF), will present a brief
history of human interactions with beavers over time, an overview of beaver ecology and
behavior, and an exploration of the benefits that beavers and the wetlands they create provide
to the health of our watersheds, landscapes, and communities. Park Staff will present a short
overview of how the beavers in the wetland along the Park’s Bayview Trail have changed the
ecology of the wetland.

Alison studied anthropology and human-wildlife conflict in graduate school, then worked for six
years in environmental education and outreach before founding HBCF. She is particularly
intrigued, inspired, and challenged by human-beaver coexistence work, because few other
animals have such an impact on the world around them. Alison is also the author of Wild Asana:
Animals, Yoga, and Connecting Our Practice to the Natural World, which comes out in June.
You can register for the program here.  Zoom login information will be sent to registrants on
March 31.


Audubon Afternoon In-Person with Guest Speaker Marci Eggers, March 12th

Sun, March 12, 2023
2:30 – 4:00 PM

Registration is requested. This will be a hybrid event. If you choose to attend via Zoom, please select a Virtual Ticket.

The Audubon Afternoon is free.

11100 Wildlife Center
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190



Join the ASNV on Sunday afternoon for their semi-annual live Audubon Afternoon at the National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive in Reston.

They gather informally starting at 2:30 so you have an opportunity to reconnect with everyone. We welcome any food and drink you would like to share with everyone during the informal portion of the program. At 3 PM, they will have a presentation by Marci Eggers, “Restoring Migratory Bird Wintering Habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Marci Eggers is the Director of Migratory Bird Habitats in Latin America and the Caribbean for the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). In this role, she oversees ABC’s efforts to protect and restore priority landscapes that migratory birds depend on in their non-breeding grounds. ABC works in collaboration with ranchers, farmers, and local communities that depend on the health of the natural environment for their livelihoods. ABC also works on innovative finance solutions to advance migratory bird conservation.

The Audubon Afternoon is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

This will be a hybrid event. If you choose to attend via Zoom, please select a Virtual Ticket. If you plan to attend in person, please select an In-person Ticket. This will help plans to accommodate everyone. Everyone registering, whether for In-person or Virtual Tickets, will get the Zoom information via email in case plans to attend in person change.

Registration is requested, so they have an idea of how many people will attend but is not required unless you plan to attend via Zoom. You are welcome to bring friends or family who did not register, or just show up!

Huntley Meadows Photography Exhibit: SATURDAY, March 4th

Photo: White-tailed Kites, Jack Zhi/Audubon Photography Awards 2022 Grand Prize Winner

Sunday, March 4, 2023
1:00 – 3:00 PM
The Norma Hoffman Visitor Center
Huntley Meadows
3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22306

Free but donations appreciated.
No registration required.

Please join this opportunity to view the 2022 Audubon Photography Awards Traveling Exhibition at the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, VA. Visitors can enjoy a display of the stunning winning images (and videos) and learn more about local birdlife in Virginia.

In the 13th year of the contest, winning photos, videos and honorable mentions were selected from 2,416 entrants from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and 7 Canadian provinces and territories to appreciate the wonder of birds and the places they inhabit. The competition continued to award the Female Bird Prize and Video Prize, which were successfully introduced last year. The Female Bird Prize highlights female birds, which are often overlooked and underappreciated in bird photography and conservation. The Video Prize recognizes the dynamic movement and behavior of birds and the ways we view and memorialize them.

All images of the winners and honorable mentions can be found here, and information on the contest rules and judging can be found here.

Free Native Plant Clinics: Cultivate Nature

Photo: Eastern Shooting Star, Virginia Department Conservation and Recreation

Thursdays, March 30, through April 27, 2023
10:30-11:30 AM

All clinics located in Great Falls, VA
Specific public location will be sent via email to registrants one week before each clinic.

Please register via email with name and dates.
All details will be sent via email.
[email protected]  

Join Botanist and Ecologist Meghan M. McGinty, Phd. Learn how to cultivate wildlife habitat anywhere, help save biodiversity and create your own Homegrown National Park.


March 30- Replace your lawn with cardboard mulching and native ground covers.

April 6- Restore native habitat by replacing invasive plants commonly found in nurseries.

April 13- High wildlife-value trees and shrubs to plant today.

April 20- Habitat gardens for containers.

April 27- Make more of what you already have by propagating the natives on your property.

Habitat gardens designed and photographed by Meghan M. McGinty, PhD.

2023 City Nature Challenge Brainstorming Event! March 9th

Logo: Courtesy of City Nature Challenge DC

Thursday, March 9, 2023
6:00 – 7:00 pm

Virtual meeting

Registration and additional information.

Fairfax Master Naturalists!
The 2023 City Nature Challenge will take place from April 28th to May 7th this year. Master Naturalists are invited to contribute their knowledge and engagement skills to engage as many people as possible with nature observation. If you’ve been thinking about how to make your own observations count, are considering leading a small group of resident observers, or supporting a local classroom, inspiring friends and neighbors to try out iNaturalist, or you’d like to use the City Nature Challenge to bring attention to biodiversity in your favorite park or neighborhood, then this meeting is for you! Join this meeting to brainstorm new activities and share past adventures, on Thursday, March 9th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

City Nature Challenge activities will qualify for service hours: C260 City Nature Challenge – Capital Nature


Tree Rescue Time

Cover photo: Jerry Nissley

Plant NOVA Trees needs help with their Tree Rescuers Program. At this time, they need volunteers to distribute door hangers designed to inform residents about invasive plant species that cause tree failure. Flyers could be handed out at your local HOA meeting, Friends Of group, or Neighborhood Citizens meeting. At the link below there are also short videos that could be shown at your organization’s meeting or the link could be sent to your constituency.
Interested volunteers may learn more about the program here:
At the bottom of their page click the ‘Contact Us Here’ link. In the comment field tell them you would like to distribute flyers.
Time spent distributing flyers or any general support to Native Nova Trees is approved for certification hours:
S861 Plant NoVA Trees – – VA Department of Forestry

Volunteer Opportunities: Raising Mealworms and Rehabilitating Wildlife

Kita’s backyard

Article and photos by FMN Janet Quinn

Wildlife habitat indoors

Kristina (Kita) Andersonhas high hopes as a wildlife rehabilitator. Her home, on one-and-a-half acres in Burke, is a sanctuary oasis in the suburbs. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has permitted her to work with a sponsor and care for migratory birds, squirrels and reptiles and RVS (rabies vector species.). In addition, she has a full migratory bird permit (until 2027) with the federal Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. She hopes to some day create a run to treat foxes with mange and has habitat cages in a spare bedroom and in her backyard.

The biggest expense for bird rehabbers is mealworms, especially in “baby season”,

Mealworm close up

which runs from March to August. Rehabbers pay for their own food and equipment. Kita has an electric heater surrounded by plastic bins of mealworms in various stages. The beetles lay eggs, the eggs hatch into larvae, which need moisture, humidity, and food, then transform into pupae, which become beetles. This cycle requires daily maintenance. Kita uses the mealworms for the wildlife she cares for, which need them live, and gives them to other rehabbers as well.

Mealworm habitat

If you are interested in raising mealworms for animals recovering from trauma, contact Kita at [email protected] and include Mealworms in the subject line. She will provide you with a starter colony and “as much coaching as you can stand.”

The DWR permitting process includes a category for Care Provider, who “may provide direct care for, and may come in direct contact with, wildlife at the facility” of a (higher level permittee) when direct supervision is not available at that facility. For example, a Category II goes on vacation and needs someone to provide care to the animals at their facility. The Category IV Care Provider would be qualified to provide this assistance.

Kita has a full-time job as a journalist and some of the animals she rehabs require care every few hours. For example, she would like to care for ducks and goslings, but they cannot be left alone. Only three rehabbers are permitted to care for these migratory birds in 2023. Without Care Providers, Kita will not be able to take these animals. Last year there were more than 50-60 migratory birds rehabilitated across four or five rehabbers in Virginia.

Squirrels can arrive to a rehabber as “pinkies” (furless babies) or “juvies,” which are two to three weeks old. Kita won’t do “pinkies” this year but would like to accept “juvies” who still need hand feeding every four hours and constant warmth. Kita has lent her small incubator to another rehabber who will be doing the “pinkies.” They will then pass them to her when they are a little stronger and start to have some fur.

You can get started in either migratory birds or squirrels! Interested? Contact Kita at [email protected] and include Rehabber in the subject line. She will walk you through obtaining a Care Provider permit with DWR.

Fairfax Master Naturalists: Record service hours for either project under Community outreach – S999: DWR service projects — Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR).

For more information on the work of a Fairfax Master Naturalist Animal Rehabilitator, see our previous article here.


FMN Quarterly Chapter Meeting featuring a Presentation by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha, March 20th

Photo: Matt and Maeve, Provided by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha

Curious about the Fairfax Master Naturalist Program?

Our Quarterly Chapter meeting will be held on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 7 pm via Zoom. It will consist of a short business meeting followed by a presentation by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha. The title of his presentation is: The human footprint on our landscapes: What legacies of overexploitation teach us about our ability to restore and protect our natural areas. 

Please contact the Fairfax Master Naturalists at [email protected] for more information.

Matt will be speaking about the positive role we can have on the lands and waters around us.  He feels we need to rethink our current relationship to degraded natural areas from passive observers to hands-on stewards, and that the Northern Virginia region is a perfect place to begin making this transition since we’re so lucky on so many fronts: well-studied plant communities, a robust community of conservationists both professional and amateur, supportive parks systems, and access to plants and funding to make things happen, among other things.


Matt Bright serves as the Executive Director at the Earth Sangha where he has worked full-time since 2011 and where he grew up as the son of co-founders Lisa and Chris Bright. Matt enjoys teaching about native plants, how they grow in the wild, and how we can best protect them. He wrote and compiled the Earth Sangha’s Native Plant Compendium ( to help explain how native plants occur in the wild in Northern Virginia and how we can use that information to restore them, and teaches regularly for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist chapter. The Earth Sangha is a local non-profit dedicated to native plant conservation and restoration both in the DC area and abroad. Our keystone project is our Wild Plant Nursery located at the Cloud Drive entrance to Franconia Park in Springfield where we host regular volunteer workdays that are open to everyone regardless of experience.

Record one CE hour under Continuing Education – FMN: Chapter Meeting Presentations.

Photo: Courtesy of Joan E. Strassmann

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia presents Author Talk: Slow Birding with Joan E. Strassmann on March 7

Photo: Courtesy of Joan E. Strassmann

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Fee:$25 ($15 ASNV Members)

Click here for registration details.

Join this presentation for an engaging talk with author and evolutionary biologist, Joan E. Strassmann. Her book, Slow Birding: The Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard, invites us to re-examine the birds closest to home. Professor Strassmann will share stories and facts about common birds and the scientists (professional and amateur alike) who study them. She will offer advice and guidance on what to look for when slow birding, so that you can uncover clues to the reasons behind specific bird behaviors. Participants will leave with concrete bird-focused activities to do at home to practice slow birding.

Learn more about her book in this recent article in the New York Times.

Joan Strassmann has been a slow birder all her life. She is an award-winning teacher of animal behavior, first at Rice University in Houston and then at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is Charles Rebstock professor of biology. She has written more than two hundred scientific articles on behavior, ecology, and evolution of social organisms. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has held a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives with her husband in St. Louis, Missouri.

Is Your Elevator Speech Ready? *

Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

How can it be ready if I don’t know what it is?  Imagine you’ve just stepped on an elevator with someone who doesn’t know you are a passionate Virginia Master Naturalist (or any volunteer service you work in).  The average attention span is just about 30 seconds before minds start wandering, so you may only have 30+ seconds to make a powerful first impression.  Think of this time as if you are going on an elevator ride from Floor 1 to Floor 5.  You have that sliver of time to open the door to educate.  It’s about being prepared to recruit new volunteers for our chapter or for your favorite service project. To recruit to our chapter, have the potential volunteer sign up for our newsletter on our website or write to [email protected].

Your pitch can include your passion about volunteering, statistics, storytelling, and an invitation to future opportunities.  Here’s a worksheet to walk you through the process.  Answer all 8 questions and you could have the basis for your elevator speech.  Put it all together – say it out loud just to yourself.  Practice it.  Practice saying it to others.  Time yourself.  Know it.  Have it in your “volunteer recruitment  toolbox.” Be ready to talk.  One volunteer who worked in Fairfax County’s Invasive Management Area program dressed as an oak tree draped with an invasive vine and died dramatically at a Halloween Party.   They created their own “elevator” opportunity!

If you are not able to answer a question today, this is a sign that you need to do some additional preparation when that next elevator speech opportunity pops up!  We suggest that you reflect on your experiences, impact and accomplishments.  Develop several possible answers so that you have the greatest chance for turning an opportunity into a new volunteer the next time those elevator doors open.

Here are some examples of members’ elevator speeches.  Add yours to the comment section at the bottom of this article.

1) My name is Marilyn.  I am a certified Virginia Master Naturalist, currently serving as Past President of the Fairfax chapter.  I manage a volunteer corps of more than 250 members on a mission to provide natural resource education, citizen science and stewardship to protect Fairfax’ natural resources.

If I need to elaborate, I say:  We recruit, develop and enable our members so they can support the natural resource projects of our sponsors and partners.  This includes projects like invasive plant management, litter cleanups, collecting data on pollinators or birds, leading nature walks or advising hometowns on landscaping for wildlife.

2) I’m Janet. I am a Virginia Master Naturalist. I’m a volunteer who’s been trained to educate the public about nature in our area, collect data for environmental research and take care of our area’s natural resources. What do I do? I’m a floater and have done a little of everything. I counted Burrowing Owls in still photos for the Global Owl Project, counted invertebrates in streams, read stories to children at a nature center and played Mrs. Claus there, removed invasive plants, grew wild celery sea grass and planted it, served on our board, and currently monitor a Bluebird Trail. I love the variety of service I can provide to care for our planet home!

*This article is adopted from Volunteer Fairfax’s Webinar: Teaching Your Volunteers the Elevator Speech, Presentation by Susan Sanow, Volunteer Fairfax[email protected]