Bull Run Mountain – Ethnobotany Hike

A wonderful day was enjoyed by all FMN in attendance on 18 May 2024 with our friends at Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF). FMN had 12 people attend the sui generis hike on Saturday at the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve. Richard Volk commented, “I had not previously been to the Preserve and enjoyed every minute of it (or should I say the 3.5 hours in the mostly light rain). Amber Miller, with Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF), was an excellent tour guide, full of information about the history of the area and its First Nation, African American, and white settler inhabitants. We saw and discussed the medicinal and cultural uses of dozens of plants. VOF will be hosting additional guided tours … I look forward to going back for more! “.

FMN Kristin Bauersfeld saw some unique plants, learned new facts, and echoed Richard’s sentiments of the unique opportunity, “it was a great experience”.

FMN Maryam Dadkhah provided all the photos in this article and several more but I could only squeeze a few in due to space constraints.

Here is a sample of things the group discovered during the hike.

Diphasiastrum digitatum – photo M. Dadkhah

Diphasiastrum digitatum – has many species known under common names of groundcedar, running cedar, or crowsfoot, but the most common name, fan clubmoss, specifically refers to the pictured species. It is the most common species in North America. Club mosses belong to a Class of plants called Lycophytes, which are more closely related to ferns and other vascular plants. Like ferns, club mosses are seedless plants, which means they reproduce by releasing a large number of extremely tiny spores
Did You Know? – Club moss spores and teas from plant leaves have been used since early times in both Native American and European cultures. Medicinal uses included treating urinary tract problems, diarrhea, and other digestive tract problems; relieving headaches and skin ailments; and inducing labor in pregnancy. This species was also once one of the principal clubmoss species used for collection of lycopodium powder, used as a primitive flashpowder.

Chimaphila maculataPhoto M. Dadkhah

Chimaphila maculata – spotted or striped wintergreen, striped prince’s pine, spotted pipsissewa, ratsbane, or rheumatism root. It is a small, ever-green herb native to eastern North American and elsewhere.
Did You Know? – The Creek tribe called it ‘pipsisikweu’ – which means ‘breaks into small pieces’ – after the supposed ability to break down gallstones and kidney stones. Native Americans used its leaf tea to treat rheumatism and stomach problems; crushed leaves were applied as a poultice to sores and wounds.

Kalmia latifolia – photo M. Dadkhah

Kalmia latifolia – mountain laurel, calico-bush, or spoonwood, is a species of flowering plant in the heath family (Ericaceae), native to the eastern US. Its range is Maine to Florida, as far west as Missouri.
Did You Know? – Kalmia latifolia is known as spoonwood because Native Americans used it to make their spoons out of it.
The plant was first recorded in America in 1624, but it was named after the Finnish explorer and botanist Pehr Kalm (1716–1779), who sent samples to Linnaeus.

Medeola virginiana – photo M. Dadkhah

Medeola virginiana – known as Indian cucumber, cucumber root, or Indian cucumber-root, is an eastern North American plant species in the lily family. It is the only currently recognized plant species in the genus Medeola. It grows in forest understory in Piedmont regions such as the Appalachian mountains.
Did You Know? – The plant bears edible rhizomes that taste mildly like cucumbers.

 

 

 

Notophthalmus viridescens – photo M. Dadkhah

The Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) – is a common newt of eastern North America. It frequents small lakes, ponds, and streams or nearby wet forests, changing colors and body functions during stages of maturity.
Did You Know? – The eastern newt produces tetrodotoxin which makes the species unpalatable to most predatory fish and birds. It can be mildly toxic to humans when handled extensively. Hopefully no one became ill during the making of this photograph. The newt has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years in the wild, and it may grow to 5 in (13 cm) in length.

Gorgeous Terrapene carolina carolina – photo M. Dadkhah

The Woodland box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) – is a subspecies within a group of hinge-shelled turtles normally called box-turtles. T. c. carolina is native to a wide range of eastern North America. While in the pond turtle family, Emydidae, and not a tortoise, the box turtle is largely terrestrial.
Did You Know? – Box turtle’s lifespan is 30-50 years and is the only turtle that can completely close up in its own shell – hence the name. Males tend to have red eyes and females tend to have brown eyes. The turtle’s carapace was used in Native culture as a bowl or scoop.

Cover photo: Epigaea repens – trailing arbutus, or ground laurel, is a low, spreading plant in the family Ericaceae. It is found from Newfoundland to Florida and west to Kentucky. The plant is a slow-growing, sprawling shrub that prefers moist, shady habitats and acidic (humus-rich) soil. It is often part of the heath complex in an oak-heath forest.
Did You Know? – The Algonquin use an infusion of leaves for kidney disorders. The Cherokee use a decoction of the plant to induce vomiting, treat abdominal pain, and they give an infusion of the plant to children for diarrhea. The Iroquois use a compound for labor pains in parturition, use a compound decoction for rheumatism and indigestion.

Kristin added a few more examples of plants discovered during the hike. “We saw so many things, obviously there isn’t room to list them all: wild comfrey (bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory), spicebush (tea, spice), mustard garlic (introduced to help with soil erosion), jewelweed (use on poison oak/ivy rashes), nettles, elderberry, American jumpseed… the list goes on!  Amber also made a point about how non-native plants like multiflora rose that we love to hate has been around long enough that people have found uses for it, such as using the rose hips or flower as an astringent.”

There you have it. If you want to learn more be sure to sign up for the next trip (TBD).

The hikers – Photo M. Dadkhah

Acknowledgements:
Thank you to Richard and Kristin for contributing to this article and to Maryam for providing the wonderful photos.
A big thank you to Amber Miller, a research Fellow for Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) Bull Run Mountain Natural Area Preserve for making the best of a rainy day by leading an entertaining and informative hike. Last but not least, the VOF sweeper Janet, added her own knowledge and kept the group together.

River Farm – Bluebird Trail Update

River Farm meadows showing one of the new boxes – photo Jerry Nissley

Washington’s River Farm, the home of the American Horticulture Society (AHS) has renovated their Bluebird Trail, with assistance from FMN. The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), once as common as the robin, saw a drastic decline in population for reasons including loss of habitat, pesticide use, an influx of feral house cats, and the introduction of the House Sparrow and the European Starling.

FMN Susan Farmer (AHS/FMN liaison) called together a team of 8 FMN volunteers to help install and monitor the bluebird boxes at River Farm. Susan set up both on-line and field training for the monitors who are now monitoring the boxes and logging activity every week in teams of two.

Chicks and eggs – Photo FMN Donna Stauffer

This initial season of monitoring has seen success and tragedy. In early April one nest box was recorded to contain five blue eggs. In mid-April, two eggs had hatched with the other three eggs still viable. However, by the first check in May, the box was observed to be empty. Perhaps through vandalism but nothing could be confirmed. Measures to mitigate chances of a reoccurrence have been implemented and hopefully this will not happen again. In any event, the box once again contains bluebird eggs and FMN will continue with due diligence to monitor and report activity.

Empty box – Photo Jerry Nissley

During a recent day of monitoring, Glenda Booth from the Connection newspaper, joined in to journal what has been done at AHS and what is involved with monitoring nest boxes. Coincidentally, Glenda’s visit was on the day the open box was discovered. Her article may be read HERE. Hardcopy newspapers, with photos, may be found at Sherwood Hall library and other Mt Vernon area Fairfax County buildings.

If you are interested in any aspect of this project please contact FMN Susan Farmer [email protected]

William Ramsay Science Night

 Cover photo – Jerry Nissley

William Ramsay Elementary in Alexandria is an interesting facility, housing the school, a recreation center, and the Buddie Ford Nature Center. Hosting the first annual Science Night was a natural neighborhood outreach for the school. They were indeed a gracious host too providing dinner, signage, and setup assistance for all the volunteers.

FMN’s connection to the event is Peter Jones, an FMN member and EL teacher at William Ramsay. FMN responded to Peter’s call for volunteers with two nature related topics.

FMN Tom Blackburn with Audubon display – Photo Peter Jones

Tom Blackburn donned his Audubon hat and provided a colorful interactive presentation on “Birds and Beaks”. Jerry Nissley was there with “Turtle Talk”, a fun-fact-filled show and tell display focused on Woodland Box turtles.
The event was set up in the rec-center gym and included tables on a myriad of environmental topics such as Energy Concepts, Water Cycle, Climate Action, and Air Quality Technologies. On the nature side, Buddie Ford Nature Center, Geology and Minerals, Entomology (drawers of awesome bugs from USDA collection housed at Natural History Museum), Pollinators, Spotted Lantern Fly, and the aforementioned Birds and Turtles all had tables.

FMN Jerry Nissley talkin turtles – Photo Peter Jones

Vesta Nelson, Science Coach at Ramsay followed up with a message to the volunteers saying, “WOW! We had over 300 visitors last night.  We weren’t getting a lot of feedback about kids attending, so I really didn’t think it was going to be that big.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Words cannot express how thankful I am because you all really did an AMAZING JOB! The kids learned a lot!  I couldn’t believe what they remembered. We do shout outs at our school and the 4th and 5th graders gave us a lot of shout outs! WOO HOO! I’m so pleased with how it turned out.”

FMN Spotlight: Tammy Schwab and FCPA

Cover photo – Jerry Nissley

FMN would like to shine the spotlight on our Chapter Partners and introduce the partner contacts so you can associate a name with an organization when you receive information from them. This also provides FMN a chance to thank them for their tireless contributions to our chapter over the years.
It makes sense to start off by spotlighting Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), that is by far FMN’s most supported Chapter Partner. The venerable Tammy Schwab, who really does not need an introduction, is our FCPA partner contact and an FMN member. She is responsible for many of the FCPA programs and keeps FMN engaged year after year. So please join us in a big thank you to Tammy for the big and small things she does for the chapter!

Tammy running the bug identification station at Lewinsville park Bug Fest. This event was supported by FMN. Photo FCPA

In addition to chapter partner contact for the FCPA she has provided extraordinary support to the Chapter from its inception and was recognized with an FMN Trailblazer Award. From her trailblazers award: Tammy played a key role in initiation of the Fairfax Chapter, serving as first Continuing Education Committee Chair and long-term Mammalogy and Interpretation instructor for the Basic Training Course. Tammy’s experience as Manager, Education & Outreach for the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Resource Management Division provides a wealth of knowledge that greatly benefits the chapter. Tammy has made significant individual contributions, including:

• Served as the first Continuing Education Committee chair. She identified training opportunities, evaluated training proposals, and coordinated FMN-oriented training classes,
• Serves as Mammalogy and Interpretation instructor for the Basic Training Course, providing interesting authoritative information both in class and on field trips,
• Taught FMN-oriented Animal Tracking and Wildlife Mapping courses,
• Led a Sully Woodlands walk for an FMN chapter meeting,
• Identifies FMN volunteer service opportunities with FCPA.

Tammy continues to develop and enhance county programs and she would like to promote the newest park initiative and identify a sample of continuing programs that FMN volunteers can get involved with now.

FCPA Wonder Wagon – Photo FCPA

The newest initiative for FCPA and FMNs to partner on is the Wonder Wagon Mobile Nature Center. WONDER stands for Wild Outdoor Nature Discovery Everywhere Revealed.
FMN and FCPA share a mission to spread the knowledge and love of nature to local residents.  The purpose of the Wonder Wagon Mobile Nature Center is to bring nature exploration straight to the underserved and underrepresented members of the community. FCPA will enhance current programming by activating the exploration of nature in the community and connecting people with nature where they are.  Thanks to the support of Community Partners like the Fairfax Master Naturalists we can meet the community members where they are – Libraries, community centers, events, unstaffed parks and School Age Child Care centers. Through these “Nature activations”, previously underserved members of the community will feel a stronger connection to the nature that is around them where they live and play. This effort will promote equity and community engagement by removing the barrier of accessibility and will result in a deeper connection to nature for our residents.

FMN is currently vested in the Wonder Wagon through a financial donation in 2023 and FMN can now signup as volunteers to support the program in the field.  Members interested in volunteering for Wonder Wagon can contact [email protected]

Additional volunteer opportunities in the parks:

Ongoing opportunities to be part of a team:
Youth Program Support; 2-4 volunteers; Primarily weekday mornings, shifts can be 9am-1pm

Share your passion for nature with school aged children at Hidden Pond Nature Center. Help with school programs and public programs for ages 3-11 year olds.Some experience working with kids preferred. Background check required. Must commit to at least one program a month for a season.

Contact [email protected] for more info.

Animal Care:

Help with the care of animals at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, including feeding and watering turtles, snakes, toads, and other animals and cleaning their enclosures. Learn about the natural history of reptiles and amphibians. Training provided. Contact Janet Siddle at [email protected] or 703-941-1065. 

Volunteer on Duty (Front Desk Support):

If you love nature and enjoy talking to people, consider volunteering at Hidden Oaks Nature Center’s front desk. You will welcome visitors, orient them to the park, answer questions, and check in program participants. This is an opportunity to learn about the natural resources of the county and share your knowledge. Contact Janet Siddle at [email protected] or 703-941-1065. 

Assistant Program Leader:

Help us teach kids and have fun doing it, at your local park! Children learn all about the local environment, nature and history during our programs and while on field trips. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone with a passion for the outdoors and a drive to help instill it in a new generation. Opportunities are intermittent and based on registration. Contact Janet Siddle at [email protected] or 703-941-1065. 

Elklick Preserve (in western Fairfax County near Centreville): has significant openings.  It is part of an on-going forest restoration project to restore a rare forest type.  It involves using hand tools like loppers and pruners to cut competing vegetation to promote oak and hickory seedlings.  The learning opportunities involve forest tree and shrub identification in the winter, spring and summer and to learn about the process of forest restoration. This would be an ongoing effort throughout the year and not a one time event. Training will take place from FCPA staff. Anyone who is interested can contact Owen at [email protected].

Bluebell Fest Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Riverbend Park, Great Falls:

Contact Andrew Wilk at Riverbend park for more information and to volunteer [email protected]

Earth Day Fairfax April 20th at Sully historic site Chantilly VA:
Help the Wonder Wagon at its first public event! To get on the Wonder Wagon volunteer interest list for this and other opportunities contact:

Nikki Zita [email protected] or

Molly Neeson [email protected]

 

Fairfax Master Naturalists Donate to Mason Neck State Park

Article and photo by Sarah Mayhew

As part of FMN Chapter Project at Mason Neck State Park, FMN budgeted funds in 2023 to assist the Park maintain its pollinator gardens.  The Park requested that we use the funds to purchase equipment that will assist with that mission.  We delivered a gorilla garden cart, a Stihl battery-operated weed whacker and a battery-operated hedge clipper to the Park on January 7, 2024.  Shown with the equipment are Chief Ranger, Visitor Services Jaime Leeuwrik (also our Chapter’s Co-Advisor) with Ranger Alex Dullea accepting our donation.

Our Chapter Project has been dormant but will soon resume activity.  If you are interested in designing informational signs, please join us.  Contact Sarah Mayhew for details ([email protected] with MNSP in the subject line).

We will soon begin garden workdays.  Since we are joined by volunteers from the Friends of Mason Neck State Park, our sign up for these workdays will be via a Sign Up Genius link.  It will be posted to the Google Group with workdays expected to begin in early March.  For more information, contact Sarah as above.

Elly Doyle Park Service Awards 2023 – Early Detection Rapid Response Team

FMN Betty Hoblitzell has been a Fairfax Master Naturalist since 2013 but her dedication to habitat restoration and a long-term commitment to Fairfax County Park system goes back longer. She has worked with the Rapid Response Team for 13 years, attending some of the first organizational meetings in 2010.

According to the National Park Service the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) program finds new populations of certain invasive species through methodical surveys as they are starting to invade an area and then eradicates them before they cause serious ecological harm in county parks. The concept EDRR is fundamental to effective invasive species management. The program adds information to Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) that tracks invasive species across the country.

Invasive plant species are known for their stealth, quietly invading neighborhood parks, a meadow or woodlands area, overwhelming native plants and before you know it, taking the place over. To combat this aggressive behavior, the Early Detection Rapid Response Team was developed and is ready to go on short notice, leading surveys for the Park Authority’s Invasive Management Area program and determining the appropriate actions.

At the core of this innovative approach are three volunteers including FMN Betty Hoblitzell who have demonstrated their ability, knowledge of the environment and amazing dedication to the Park Authority.  They spend many hours engaged plant specific surveillance throughout the 24,000-acre park system. Post survey, they report on invasive density, removal efforts, volunteer or contractor treatment options and create a rough map of the infested area.

In the past year, these three committed volunteers have given more than 225 hours to Rapid Response teamwork, covering more than 200 acres in a matter of months. Their work has curbed wavyleaf basket grass incursions, as well as multiflora rose, stopping the spread early to conserve time, money, and other resource management tools.

 

Elly Doyle Awards – 2023

Fairfax County Park Authority and the Fairfax County Park Commission announced their 2023 Elly Doyle awards presented annually to deserving volunteers or organizations. For 2023, two FMN volunteers received “Outstanding Volunteer” Awards via parks they support. Jo Doumbia received an award via Hidden Oaks Nature Center (HONC) in Annandale and Celia Boertlein via Huntley Meadows Park (HMP) in Hybla Valley.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center – Photo curtesy of FCPA

Jo’s nomination letter cited her enthusiastic demeanor, graciousness in sharing her multilingual skills, and her joy of fostering natural history education in support of environmental justice. Jo is the perfect example of an outstanding volunteer.
The letter went on to say that she excels at her role inside the nature center building and also took it upon herself to go above and beyond the normal Volunteer on Duty role and extend Hidden Oaks’ interpretative outreach through a variety of activities within the local community. An experienced presenter and naturalist, Jo represents Hidden Oaks by planning and hosting nature outreach activities with neighborhood Community Centers supporting a highly diverse audience.
Since last summer Jo also interpreted monarch butterfly programs for elementary and high school age audiences at Wedgewood Community Center, which serves a highly diverse, low-income apartment complex in Annandale. These programs included monarch tagging and monarch migration activities.

Jo helping the Culmore teens into Kayaks at Riverbend – photo Jerry Nissley

She is the HONC liaison with Culmore Community Center. With Hidden Oaks’ staff, Jo put considerable effort into arranging four summer programs for 22 low-income Latino teens to attend complimentary STEM workshops at Hidden Oaks, Lake Fairfax, and Riverbend Park. Students participated in fishing, orienteering, geocaching, and kayaking. They studied live herps, STEM careers, conducted soil sampling with NVSWCD and benthic macroinvertebrates with DPWES. They were also sure to have fun at picnics and gathering around campfires. She coordinated volunteers from Fairfax Master Naturalists to assist in these events.
Through her vision and efforts, she extended Hidden Oaks’ nature interpretation programs to a more diverse audience, including those who are low-income and may otherwise not be able to participate in a paid program.

HMP Visitor Center – Photo Jerry Nissley

Celia received Huntley Meadows “Ken Howard” award and the Elly Doyle “Outstanding Volunteer” Award. Ken Howard was an autochthonal supporter of HMP and this eponymous award is considered HMP’s highest honor. Her Elly Doyle nomination letter stated that Celia is an essential member of the volunteer team. She wears many hats and is nearly always the first volunteer to assist with programs and scouts. Celia continues to fulfill her roving naturalist and vernal pool monitor duties without fail and dedicates an incredible amount of time and energy to support Huntley Meadows Park special events.

Celia helped immensely with the HMP Wetlands Awareness Day as a Friends of Huntley Meadows Park representative and stayed especially busy organizing the event. She continually steps up as an interpretive program assistant, field trip leader, roving naturalist, and vernal pool monitor – she is an essential park volunteer.  

HMP Big Pond – Photo Jerry Nissley

Celia continuously updates natural resource records with new developments in her vernal pool. She researches additional data, provides materials for others, and utilizes her contacts to reach out for more detail. She provides invaluable assistance in many different programs at HMP. Her skill set contributes to citizen science, educational, and community outreach activities. She brings a depth of naturalist knowledge and interpretation skills when speaking with park guests. As a roving naturalist she provides essential support to the park’s interpretive staff through her energetic, hands-on program assistance.

FMN Joe Gorney Environmental Excellence 2023

On September 13th, the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) announced the recipients of the 2023 Environmental Excellence Awards. The September Board of Supervisor’s newsletter referenced that since 2000, Fairfax County has issued the Environmental Excellence Awards to recognize county residents, county employees, businesses, and organizations who demonstrate extraordinary leadership within the community and exceptional dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the county’s natural resources. This year’s winners include a high school senior working on environmental stewardship, a small business reducing waste, a condo association safeguarding green spaces for its residents, and three county employees advancing sustainability practices.

FMN Joe Gorney was one of the three winners in the County Employee Category.

 Joe’s award profile stated that he is a Planner with the Department of Planning and Development, Environment and Development Review Branch. He works collaboratively with other county agencies on a diverse range of environmental review topics, working to create a sustainable future for residents and employees. He was the staff lead for the Environmental Plan guidance update for the Reston planning study, designating Reston as “biophilic” community.

With FMN Joe is a past President and currently teaches the “Personal Stewardship for the Land” module for FMN Basic Training Cohorts. He was part of a team that monitored 36 bluebird boxes at Twin Lakes for several years. He also helped establish the golf course as an Invasive Management Area (IMA) site and has now transitioned to IMA site leadership duties.

Joe Gorney and colleague Carley Aubrey working at Herrity Center – photo courtesy of Joe Gorney

In 2023 he has already volunteered over 40 hours in several categories on various Projects. In addition to the IMA site leadership role at Twin Lakes, he has been busy designing a couple of native plantings (see cover photo) at the Fairfax County Government Center (GC). He said, “We’ve already removed invasives around the GC Memorial area, which is an ongoing management process, and planted the area with natives. We’re also investigating planting 48 native trees around the GC Ellipse, which may happen in mid-October. I’m also inventorying landscape invasives around the GC, which are to be removed and replaced with natives, and designing other native tree plantings to the east of the GC. In addition to invasive pulls at the GC Memorial area, I’ve helped organize and participate in invasive pulls at the Herrity Building.” Joe also found time to be active on Audubon Home Ambassador projects and support FMN board with occasional admin duties.

Please join us in congratulating Joe on his well earned 2023 Environmental Excellence Award.

Photo: By Jo Doumbia, FMN Culmore Teens Summer Program 2023

Fairfax Master Naturalists in the Summer – Culmore Teens Summer Nature Program

Article and photos by FMN Jo Doumbia, FMN Outreach Committee Chair

As the warmth of summer fades, I find myself reflecting on the amazing journey 20 teens from the disadvantaged area of Culmore went through this summer as they participated in the Teens Summer Nature Camp. The camp itself was made possible via the combined energies and commitment of many sponsors with several dedicated Fairfax Master Naturalist (FMN) volunteers providing program support and guidance.

With hands-on support by FCPA, the Second Story Program at the Culmore Community Center, and the assistance FMN volunteers, we conducted nature related activities at Colvin Run, Hidden Oaks Nature Center, and Riverbend Park. We helped this youth group establish lasting positive connections with nature through activities such as orienteering, geocaching, reptile feeding, green careers discussion, and kayaking.

It was truly delightful to witness the high level of engagement on the part of the teens across the different summer activities. Their questions, comments, and concerns were right-on and not much different than those of many FMNers when first introduced to new or unknown concepts. The Culmore teens, along with the Second Story leadership, extend heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the FMN volunteers.

Photo: By Jo Doumbia, FMN Culmore Teens Summer Program 2023

Photo: By Jo Doumbia, FMN Culmore Teens Summer Program 2023

It is very rewarding just to realize the possibilities for volunteer programs like FMN, to share their enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge with those communities that have limited or no access to natural resource educational opportunities. For the Culmore teens and the FMN volunteers, this summer’s successful outreach experience just may be the beginning of more enriching educational experiences.

The continued success of programs like this, which I hope to be the first of many, depends on the sustained interest and willingness of knowledgeable volunteers. With a solid volunteer base we can help establish and support educational outreach experiences for natural resource stewardship in underserved and disadvantage communities. One of the most important connections these young people made was to realize the relationship between themselves and nature. They found enjoyment and strength through their summer journeys and experiences which may help them become better stewards of the planet.

As a follow up, and per request of the teens, we look forward to possibly offering a once-a-month nature outing. Be on the lookout for invitations to volunteer.

In closing, I want to express profound gratitude for our volunteers’ incredible support. In particular to Kim Munshower, JaneEllen Saums, Rob Warren, Jerry Nissley, and Whitney Redding, as well as to Suzanne Holland from the Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

Afternoon at the Smithsonian – Time Well Spent

Cover photo: Susan Martel

The first ‘Afternoon at the Smithsonian’ CE tour was a big success.

Ocean Hall. Photo – Sarah Miller

This tour identifies the relationship of some Natural History Museum exhibits to the natural environment of Virginia including the geologic history, mineralogy, entomology, osteology, evolution, mammalogy, and many other topics.  Some of the take-aways include an introduction of how the NMNH’s display collection can be used to enrich the naturalist’s understanding of science, the scientific method, and some techniques that are applicable to naturalists’ domain of interests; as well as some facts related to the natural condition and history of Virginia.

Photo – Sarah Miller

The CE tour was developed and led by FMN Dr. John Kelmelis. He is former Chief Scientist for Geography for the U.S. Geological Survey, Senior Counselor for Earth Science at the U.S. Department of State, former Professor of Science, Technology and International Policy at Pennsylvania State University.  He holds a BA in Earth Science; MS in Engineering; and Ph.D. in Geography.  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has held positions in many national and international scientific organizations.  He is a volunteer and docent at the Smithsonian Institution and a Virginia Master Naturalist in the Fairfax County chapter.

Talking bones. Photo – Susan Martel

While the tour inevitably talked ‘big picture’ natural science concepts, the attendees mentioned they appreciated how John tailored his discussions towards the Virginia area and even specific FMN course material when appropriate.
In general, tour topics covered and Halls visited include:
1. Geology Gems and Minerals Hall
2. Butterfly Pavilion (in passing) and Insect Zoo
3. Bones
4. Ocean Hall
5. Deep time
6. Mammals
7. Ornithology

Geology. Photo – Sarah Miller

Everyone walked away from the program feeling it was two hours very well spent. FMNs on the tour were: Susan Martel, Peter Mecca, Margaret Coffey, Ramona Bourgeois, Sarah Miller, and Liz Nalle. Thank you to Susan and Sarah for sharing photos of the event.

John will schedule more tours over the course of the next several months as his schedule permits.

Our world is a creation of inordinate complexity, richness, and strangeness that is absolutely fascinating. Come – see for yourself.

Keep an eye on upcoming FMN newsletters for CE announcements.