Virginia Bioblitz 2020, September 26th

When: Saturday, 26 September 2020. Virtual Kickoff event at 9:00am (check website for Zoom link)
Where: Anywhere in Virginia
What: Use iNaturalist to find as many species as you can for at least 30 minutes
You can find more information and register at the Virginia BioBlitz website.
Please spread the word to your family, friends, students and neighbors (see publicity flyer). Help record many species in our beautiful state.

The Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) is organizing a Statewide BioBlitz, Virginia BioBlitz 2020, to promote exploration, discovery, citizen science, and conservation. Join them to survey the biodiversity in every part of the Commonwealth. This is a virtual event facilitated through iNaturalist, so, you can join from home or anywhere else in Virginia! This event is open to anyone willing to spend some time outdoors, explore biodiversity and learn more about species living around you. All it requires is registering online, downloading the iNaturalist App into your smart phone, joining the Virginia Bioblitz iNaturalist project, and reporting species around you! You can also participate without a smart phone just using the iNaturalist website, so long as you have a way to take and upload digital photos.

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers at the Virginia Academy of Science. This event is not organized by the Virginia Master Naturalist program.

Fairfax Master Naturalists, obtain service hour credit in the catalog under: C001: Virginia Bioblitz Days.

Virginia Waterways Cleanup Events for Fall 2020

Clean Virginia Waterways is promoting volunteer-led cleanups in September and October as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers can participate by (1) looking for and participating in a local cleanup event that is already scheduled (see the website for the listings) or (2) becoming your own Site Captain and organizing a small-scale cleanup with friends or community members. If you are scheduled for an in-person event with other people, just make sure to follow the VCE Phase 3 COVID-19 checklist guidelines and the safety guidelines from Clean Virginia Waterways.

More information on the Clean Virginia Waterways website.

Join Team Cricket for an Evening Sound Census, August 21

Friday, August 21 

Listen to the sounds of summer! Help researchers by collecting data in your own backyard!

If you live in the DC or Baltimore area, head outside this Friday 8/21 after 8:15pm and listen for crickets.

Visit https://www.discoverlife.org/cricket/DC/ for tips on identifying 6 common species and the data form to report your findings. Fun for the whole family!

Note: Even if you don’t live in the area, you can still learn all the sounds of species and practice listening wherever you are! Check out this site: https://songsofinsects.com/

#CricketCrawlDCBaltimore #citizenscience #crazyforcrickets #communityscience #naturenerdsunite

Help Science Fight Wavyleaf Basketgrass

Can you help University of Richmond biologist Dr. Carrie Wu collect samples of invasive wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius) in your area? Dr. Wu is conducting a research project to help understand the genetic structure of this invasive plant in order to help control its spread across the Mid-Atlantic region. She is the recipient of two previous Virginia Native Plant Society Research Grants to study wavyleaf basketgrass.

Would you be able to collect several basketgrass samples as described below and send them to Dr. Wu by postal mail? Please contact her directly with any questions.

This summer, Dr. Wu is seeking additional collections from as many locations as possible across the introduced range. The goal is to have 10-15 individual plants collected from large populations when possible (with individual plants at least 3 feet apart from one another). Smaller populations would have a reduced number of plants sampled. Observations from several folks suggest that wavyleaf seems to be setting seed earlier than several years ago, so if you encounter seeds later this summer, those would be greatly appreciated too.
Tissue sampling is pretty straight forward, especially if the plants aren’t too wet. Dr. Wu can send a detailed protocol if requested. In brief, record collector and site information, including GPS coordinates. Collect at least 5-8 fully expanded leaves (or entire stalks!) per plant into coin envelopes/regular envelopes/paper bags. Please keep leaves from each individual plant in separate bags/wrappings. If storing for an extended time, place filled envelopes in a plastic bag with a little silica drying gel (or the “Do Not Eat” packets that come in lots of items). When sampling multiple plants in population, try to separate collections by at least 1 meter. Mail them to Dr. Wu. She is happy to offset shipping costs as needed.

If you are able to collect tissue, or would be willing to have Dr. Wu access sites where you know the plants are growing, please let her know. She can provide more detailed sampling instructions as needed.
And of course, please share this request widely with colleagues who you think might also be able to help!

Carrie Wu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program
University of Richmond
138 UR Drive
Richmond, VA 23173
cwu@richmond.edu
Office: A114 Gottwald Science Center
Phone: (804) 289-8712

Scott’s Run Service Opportunities and a Kudo

Scott’s Run Cleanups! 8-10 AM every weekend. Sign up here.

Note: 1-2 Cleanup Lead(s) needed for Saturday 8/22! Please email Valeria Espinosa if you are interested valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov

Invasive Removal Tuesday evening, July 27, 6-7:30 PM. Sign up here. If you are interested in leading an invasive removal project, please contact Valeria: valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov

Natural Resource Projects at Scott’s Run every Wednesday. Sign up here.

Kudos to Nancy Yinger: This July, Riverbend, which manages Scott’s Run, recognized one of its committed volunteers: Nancy Yinger. Nancy, a Master Naturalist, has participated in the wildflower survey for over a year. Last year, she also partook in the Caterpillars Count! Arthropod Survey. This year, she has continued surveying the park’s wildflowers while supporting trail monitoring efforts. She has also “adopted” a pollinator garden by the Visitor Center. Riverbend is very lucky to have Nancy as part of its volunteer community.

Earth Sangha is Re-Opening the Wild Plant Nursery for Volunteers

Earth Sangha is reopening the Wild Plant Nursery for plant-shopping appointments and volunteers! (Our contactless “curbside” pickup service will continue to be available.) Volunteer opportunities will begin on July 19, and plant-shopping appointments on August 2.

The safety of volunteers, customers, and staff is the priority. Volunteers MUST pre-register for nursery workdays (workdays will be limited to 10 volunteers), and customers MUST book a plant-sale appointment to ensure everyone can practice social-distancing. They are still closed to walk-ins.

How to Sign-Up to Volunteer

1. Visit the volunteer page at www.earthsangha.org/volunteer

2. Click on the “Sign-up Genius” link to view the calendar and open volunteer slots.

3. Sign-up for the day and volunteer slot you’re interested in. (Please only sign-up for days you know you can attend.)

How to Make an In-Person Plant Sale Appointment

1. Visit the Book Online Page at www.earthsangha.org/book-online

2. Click the green “Request to Book” button

3. Click on the day and time slot you’d like to book and then click the grey “Next” button. The calendar gives the option to view by week or by month. (30 min appointments are available from 9am to Noon on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.)

4. Enter your name, email and phone number

5. Click the grey “Request to Book” button

6. You will receive an email when your appointment is confirmed.

This is their first time offering booking online, so please email Katherine at kisaacson@earthsangha.org if you have any questions about booking an appointment.

How to order for curbside pick-up

1. Check out inventory at www.earthsangha.org/wpnlist

2. Email Earth Sangha at orders@earthsangha.org with species and quantities you’d like to purchase. Let them know if you’re a member to receive the member discount! If you need help choosing plants for your site, they’re happy to help! Feel free to send photos of areas you have in mind.

3. They’ll place your order in an assigned bay outside the nursery fence, notify you that it’s ready to go, and you can pick up at your leisure.

4. They’ll email you an invoice you can pay online. Feel free to pick up first, so you can see what you’re getting.

All visitors must abide by the following rules

* All volunteers and customers must be pre-confirmed either through the online volunteer sign-up or online appointment systems.

* No more than 10 people can volunteer for an event at one time.

* Volunteers/customers should not visit the Wild Plant Nursery if they have any COVID symptoms, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

* Volunteers/customers must wear a face mask while at the Wild Plant Nursery.

* Volunteers/customers must practice social-distancing while at the Wild Plant Nursery.

* Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves and water bottles.

Soil Your Undies Campaign

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is challenging residents all across Fairfax County to bury a pair of cotton underwear as part of a campaign to promote soil health awareness. How does it work? Just bury a pair of cotton underwear and dig it back up after at least 60 days. It’s the quick and dirty way to test the microbial activity in your soil. The more the underwear is deteriorated, the healthier your soil!

Although you can use the Soil Your Undies Challenge to check your soil health at any time, the 2020 NVSWCD Soil Your Undies Challenge runs from July to September 2020.

JOIN THE CHALLENGE!
Step 1: Look for a place where you want to study the health of the soil. Make sure you are only studying sites on your property or with the permission of the landowner.
Step 2: Bury a pair of white cotton undies (or any white cotton clothing item) 3 inches under the soil’s surface. Be sure to take a “before” photo.
Step 3: Don’t forget to mark your study site with a flag or other easily-identifiable marker!
Step 4: Wait at least 60 days (this is the hard part…)
Step 5: Locate your marked study site and dig up your cotton undies. Be sure to take an “after” photo.
Step 6: How healthy is your soil? Healthier soils have a lot of microbial activity, and the healthy fungi and bacteria in the soil will break down your cotton undies. The more degraded your undies are, the more microbial activity you have in your soil, and the healthier your soil is.
Step 7: Share the results of your citizen science project! Email your photos and any notes you may have to conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov, and share your results with us on Facebook @nvswcd and on Instagram @NorthernVirginiaSWCD. We’ll be sharing our results with you, too!

Learn more about the challenge and soil health here.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve Service Opportunities

7400 Georgetown Pike (use 7500 for GPS location)
Great Falls, VA

Cleanup Days

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is an ecologically and globally unique preserve and home to remarkable plants and wildlife. Join their Stewardship team and partake in their upcoming volunteer cleanups. Volunteers under 14 years old must volunteer with a parent/guardian. Limited spots per event

Sign up here

Natural Resource Projects

The park is in need of volunteer support to complete several resource management projects. All projects are outdoors and vary by season. Duties may include walking on hilly trails, lifting, planting, weeding/pulling invasives, using work tools, building/assembling, and labeling/reporting. Project details and meeting location will be sent prior to the work day. All volunteers must dress appropriately and follow park etiquette.

Sign up here

At-Home Citizen Science Projects

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Virginia may be in Phase 3 of re-opening but many volunteers will continue to stay home, especially those in high risk groups. For those who are looking for home-based opportunities, Virginia Master Naturalists has compiled a list of ideas for citizen science projects.

• CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network) https://www.cocorahs.org
• Nature’s Notebook https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook
• Project Budburst http://budburst.org
• Digitizing Virginia’s Herbaria project within Notes from Nature –  https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/md68135/notes-from-nature-southeastern-us-biodiversity  
• Project FeederWatch (season is mid-November through early April) https://feederwatch.org
• Great Backyard Bird Count (mid-February only) https://gbbc.birdcount.org
• NestWatch https://nestwatch.org 
• Hummingbirds at Home (Audubon) – https://www.audubon.org/content/hummingbirds-home
• Monarch Larva Monitoring Project https://monarchjointventure.org/mlmp 
• Firefly Watch https://www.massaudubon.org/get-involved/citizen-science/firefly-watch 
• Bumblebee Watch – https://www.bumblebeewatch.org
• Migratory Dragonfly Partnership http://www.migratorydragonflypartnership.org/index/welcome 
• Lost Ladybug http://www.lostladybug.org 
• FrogWatch http://www.frogwatch.org/ 
• Virginia WildlifeMapping https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/virginia-wildlife-mapping
• City Nature Challenge (limited to participating locations and specific dates) https://citynaturechallenge.org
• World Bee Count – https://beescount.org

Master naturalists, please check with the FMN service catalog or our service chair if you have any questions.

Gardening Opportunities in Fairfax County Parks

Both Hidden Oaks Nature Center and Riverbend Park seek volunteers to “adopt a spot” or “adopt a native plant” gardens in the parks. These independent, outdoor service projects offer plenty of safe physical distancing. Additional gardens will be available later in the summer. See descriptions below for details and contact.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center projects

Riverbend Park projects