Service opportunity to do from home: Edit captions for VMN continuing education webinars

VMN HQ is looking for volunteers willing to do a very tedious, at-home computer task of editing the captions for VMN Continuing Education webinar videos. If this fits your skills and interest, see below for details. Volunteers chosen to assist with this project will be able to report their hours to the VMN Statewide Administration project. Cheers,  Michelle

Are you looking for a VMN volunteer opportunity you can do from home? This is a project that I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for a long time, and I think I finally have a way, with your help.

As you know, we have many years’ worth of recorded videos from our Continuing Education Webinar Series. Accessibility best practices for videos include having captions available for people who are deaf or otherwise unable to hear the audio well. The video software we use from Virginia Tech does do automatic captions, but they are done from computer speech recognition and are full of errors. Sometimes the errors are so bad that the text is nonsensical!  

What You’ll Do:

We are seeking volunteers to edit the captions for our recorded Continuing Education webinar videos. For each video, I have an unedited captions file that I will send as a starting point. I will also send you a link for streaming the recorded video. You will be asked to:

  1. Open the captions file in a text editing program such as TextEdit (on the Mac) or Notepad (on a PC). 
  2. Start playing the video using the link I provide to you.
  3. Listen to the video and follow along with the captions. When you see an error in the caption text, pause the video, edit the text, and then start the video again. Be sure to hit save on your captions file periodically.
  4. Follow some basic guidelines and conventions for captioning. I will send those out to the people who volunteer for this project.
  5. Work on the project whenever you want. You do not have to do the whole video in one sitting. The videos are generally about 1 hour, and you’ll find that it takes at least 2 to 4 hours to complete the caption editing because of all the stopping and starting. 
  6. When you’ve completed all the caption editing, save the file in a particular format (I’ll provide more directions on that) and then email the file to me.
  7. Complete the captioning for your video by approximately April 30. If you need longer, that’s OK, too. That is a somewhat arbitrary deadline.
  8. Report your volunteer time to the “VMN Statewide Administration” project on the VMS.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Access to a computer with a plain text editing program such as TextEdit or Notepad. Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and other word processing software are not what you want for this purpose.
  2. Access to an internet connection that allows you to stream video. I don’t have a practical way to download the videos and send the files to you, so you will need to be able to watch them online.
  3. Lots of attention to detail and an incredibly high tolerance for very tedious jobs!

To Volunteer:

Please contact Michelle Prysby by March 31. I will send out the assignments shortly after that date. I’ll just assign a video to you based on what is available. If we have more volunteers than videos, I will prioritize volunteers who have physical disabilities or injuries that prevent them from doing more physical volunteer work and after that I’ll just do first-come, first-chosen. Please only volunteer if you feel comfortable finding and using the text editor on your computer and feel like you have the necessary attention to detail that this project requires.

This is a great opportunity for volunteers who may need an at-home project, who really like our Continuing Education webinars, who don’t mind tedious tasks, and who have a good eye for details!

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.

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

Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair needs judges, March 21st–CANCELED! FCPS closed until April 10th

Robinson Secondary School
5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax VA
Saturday, 21 March 2020
7:30 am – 12 pm

Be an organizational judge for Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s special award at the Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair! Overall, each year 250 judges are required to evaluate over four hundred science fair projects in a wide variety of categories ranging from plants sciences to physics and astronomy. Of course the ones for this award will relate to NVSWCD’s work.

Master naturalists receive service hour credit using code E155.

For more information and to volunteer, contact Tessa Bennett.

City Nature Challenge! April 24 – 27th — Changes have been made!

In the past, the City Nature Challenge has been a friendly competition among 160+ cities worldwide to see who can observe the most species and involve the most citizen scientists. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, some modifications have been made to help keep the organizers and participants safe. Firstly, this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, the organizers want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. All participants are urged to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by their local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are the utmost priority. Please refer to the COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.

Join the project as a citizen scientist from April 24th to 27th using the iNaturalist app.

Participating in the City Nature Challenge is fun—and it’s a great reason to step outdoors for some time with nature. Your observations of plant and animal life will help scientists collect valuable data on the biodiversity of our planet. AND you’ll help the Washington DC area win!

How it works

Resources, and a video

2019 City Nature Challenge Leaderboard

Be a Citizen Scientist at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts! Bluebird and Purple Martin monitors needed. Training March 15th

Orientation and Training
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA 22182
Sunday, 15 March 2020
1:00 to 3:30 pm

The National Park Service and Friends of Wolf Trap, would like to enlist the help of a team of volunteers who would form a Bird House Monitoring Team to monitor and maintain the Bluebird boxes and Purple Martin housing at the Park. No experience is necessary, as volunteers would be provided with training and guidance by our lead bluebird trail volunteer, Mr. Dale Thornton. Volunteers would learn about Bluebird stewardship efforts, including how to monitor the nest boxes, nest identification, and collecting and reporting nesting data to track population trends. In addition, volunteers would receive training from Mr. Mike Bishop of the Northern Virginia Purple Martin Initiative who will provide an overview of the Purple Martin and the process for monitoring and maintaining the colony.

The bluebird and purple martin monitoring season typically starts in late March and continues through August.  Nests are monitored on a weekly basis during the spring/summer nesting season and volunteers will help with box repair and maintenance during the off season, on an as-needed basis.  A team of trained monitors who will work on a rotating basis throughout the season and continue next year and into future seasons.  Ideally, each trained volunteer would be on a three- or four-week rotation; however, the monitoring schedule and associated details will partly depend upon how many people choose to volunteer.

The interested volunteers should be adults who have received the appropriate training and hands-on experience monitoring bluebirds on the Wolf Trap bluebird trail.  Children under the supervision of the trained volunteer monitor are welcome to assist the volunteer while they are conducting their monitoring duties.

Interested volunteers please sign up here. For more information, contact Allen Hoffman (Friends of Wolf Trap and FMN)

Master Naturalists may receive service hours at S263, Wolf Trap Stewardship Projects.

Invasive Management Workdays at Lake Accotink

Lake Accotink Park
7500 Accotink Park Rd., Springfield VA
Saturdays, 15, 22 and 29 February 2020
9 – 11 am

Invasive plants prevent us from enjoying our forests. They degrade our natural ecosystems. Ever get stopped in the woods by climbing vines or shrubs with thorns? They may have been invasive species. Some of them, like multiflora rose, can completely swarm over a section of woods and block out everything else. However, invasive can be thwarted.

Join Fairfax Master Naturalists Elaine and Beverly as they combat invasives at Lake Accotink. No experience is necessary, this is a great opportunity to learn and everyone is welcome.

They have work gloves and equipment but please bring your own drinking water as the park’s drinking fountains have been winterized – the restrooms are still open.

If you can join them – even for an hour or so it would be greatly appreciated.

Lastly, the weather at this time of year is so unpredictable, please call or text Beverly at (571) 314-2107 if you are not sure.

Directions: There are several entrances to Lake Accotink Park, but it is easiest to take the Accotink Park Road entrance that comes off Highland Street in Springfield. Once you enter the park, follow the road all the way to the end and you will see the marina, mini golf course and a children’s carousel. There is ample parking. They are working in the area directly behind the children’s carousel but please call or text Beverly if you can’t find them.

Mass Audubon Firefly Watch–Citizen Science in action

Also known as “lightning bugs,” fireflies are neither bugs nor flies—they’re actually beetles that light up using a chemical reaction in their lower abdomen (the bottom part of their body). Some of them light up in a specific blinking pattern, like a secret code that they use to “talk” with other fireflies and to find mates. Flashes can be quick or long-lasting, and one kind is in a j-shape.

Are firefly populations growing or shrinking, and what could lead to changes in their populations? Mass Audubon has teamed up with researchers from Tufts University to track the fate of these amazing insects. With your help, they hope to learn about the geographic distribution of fireflies and what environmental factors impact their abundance.

Join a network of citizen scientists around the country by observing your own backyard, and help scientists map fireflies. Anyone in North America can participate in Firefly Watch. Just spend at least 10 minutes once a week during firefly season observing fireflies in a single location. All firefly sightings — or lack thereof — are valuable!

Learn more about fireflies and participate in the Firefly Watch this summer.

Mount Vernon High School needs Science Fair Judges, Feb. 4th

Mount Vernon High School
8515 Old Mt Vernon Rd, Alexandria, VA 22309
Tuesday, 4 February 2020
(Snow date Monday, 10 February)
8 am – 12 pm

IB and Honors science students have been working on their projects since September. Volunteer to be a part of their Science Fair experience. Judging is easy! Previous experience as a judge is not needed, however, judges should have in interest in science. Judges will listen to student presentations, ask questions, and evaluate student work using a simple rubric. Refreshments will be served.

Please contact Alexander White at ahwhite@fcps.edu for further details about Science Fair judging.

Master naturalists earn service credit using code E152.