Volunteer opportunity: Serve as a Science Fair Judge

Every year thousands of kids do Science Fair projects.  Judges are needed to evaluate the projects done by our own Fairfax County high school students, and to give them an opportunity to practice their presentation skills.  This is an opportunity to get to know a younger generation and to hear and challenge their thinking.
Judging typically occurs on a school day afternoon or evening, or on a Saturday morning.  Judges work in groups according to their chosen fields within science, and judges are provided with the criteria to use in evaluating student work.  Each judge is assigned to evaluate 8 to 12 specific projects, and each project is assigned to 2 or 3 judges. All the participating students with their projects are stationed in a large room until they have had the opportunity to present their project to their judges.  Groups of judges meet afterwards to compare their evaluations of the projects and to identify those that should receive awards and be forwarded on to the countywide science fair.  First time judges work with experienced judges to become familiar with the process, and some schools can even provide childcare for their judges!
About two dozen Fairfax County high schools will be having science fairs this winter, starting on January 17  and continuing through February.  The typical time commitment is for 4 hours, starting at 2 pm in the afternoon.  This is a great opportunity to get to know teens who are working hard to gain skills and understand the world.  You will be impressed with how many of them care about good environmental stewardship.
Come encourage them!
Contact Cathy Greulich  to match your availability with the location and dates of the science fairs at the various high schools, or contact your local high school to find their date.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Grasses for the Masses” Workshop, 25 or 27 January: Register now

Here is a great project for gardeners and non-gardeners alike during the winter.  You can grow native plants indoors during the winter months, and install them in the spring where they can provide enormous environmental benefits.
The project is the “Grasses for the Masses” program that is sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).   The Grasses program provides an opportunity for Virginia residents to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s rivers. Participants will attend a workshop to receive a simple kit and instructions to grow native aquatic “celery” grasses (Vallisneriaamericana) in their homes, classrooms, or businesses during the winter, and plant them at Mason Neck Park in the spring. The grasses filter nutrients and provide important habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures.
The fee to participate is $40, which covers part of the cost of the kit and includes a one year membership to CBF.

Time and Location of Workshops in Arlington, VA:
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, 7:15-8:15 pm OR Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, 9:00-10:30am
Both workshops are at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 South Stafford Street, Room 118, Arlington, VA 22206

There are other workshops at NOVA Community College and Fredericksburg, as well as other locations around the state.
Registration is now OPEN.  Click HERE for locations and to register.  Spaces are limited, so don’t wait too long, or you will may miss a chance to participate!
For more information contact Ashley Reams  
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Regional Coordinator, volunteer

Stream monitoring sessions in January: Plan now so that you can attend

Saturday, January 6

Stream Monitoring Workshop: Chantilly

Time: 1:30 – 4pm

Location: Big Rocky Run Stream Valley Park, Chantilly

Help monitor Big Rocky Run as it flows through a sliver of forested parkland between the residences of the Greenbriar neighborhood. Please RSVP to Dan Schwartz for directions and instructions.


Sunday, January 7

Stream Monitoring Session: Prince William County, Haymarket

Time: Noon – 2:30pm

Location: James Long Park, Haymarket

Join long-serving certified monitor Elaine Wilson and her team for fall monitoring at this beautiful site on the Catharpin Creek in the Gainsville area. This location has some outstanding and unique critters. Spots are limited. For more information and to RSVP, contact Elaine.


Wednesday, January 10

Fairfax County Public Hearing on the Environment

Time: 7:30pm

Location: Fairfax County Gov’t Center, Conference Rooms 9-10, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA

The Environmental Quality Advisory Council invites all interested citizens to share their views and concerns on the state of the County’s environment. Written, verbal or video testimony is encouraged. To be placed on the speakers list or for additional information, call the Dept. of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380 (TTY 711) or send an e-mail message (and/or submit written testimony) to EQAC@fairfaxcounty.gov. For video testimony, upload to YouTube, Vimeo, or UStream and email the URL to EQAC by 5pm on January 3.


Saturday, January 13

Potomac River Cleanup

Time: 10am

Location: Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA

Participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by helping the Potomac Conservancy and its volunteers clean the river banks at Jones Point Park in the City of Alexandria. In 2017, this event prevented 12,000 pounds of trash from entering the river. Can YOU help break that record in 2018? Please RSVP online.

Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee looking for volunteers

Reston Association’s (RA’s) Environmental Advisory Committee is looking for volunteers to help prepare the 2018 Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER)

What is RASER?

It is an environmental report card that evaluates the condition of several environmental attributes of the Reston community and makes recommendations to protect or improve their conditions. The 2017 RASER can be viewed on the Nature Overview page of the RA website at: http://www.reston.org/Parks,RecreationEvents/NatureEnvironmental Resources/NatureOverview/tabid/959/Default.aspx

What do we need?

A few volunteer citizen scientists or environmental professionals willing to work in a team environment to collect, assess, and summarize data pertinent to one or more of the following topics: air quality, water quality, vegetation, wildlife, light pollution, hazardous and toxic waste, solid waste, noise, urban agriculture, and energy conservation.

When do we need help?

The 2018 RASER project gets underway in January with a final report to the Reston Association Board of Directors by September 2018. The RASER Working Group meets once a month, but individual chapter teams may meet more often.

How do I apply to help?

Contact Doug Britt, RASER Working Group Project Director, at: pdbritt@verizon.net and type “RASER interest” in the subject line.

Does it qualify for VMN service hours?

Yes it does: Under Citizen Science # 245.

Thomas Edison Science Fair needs judges

Edison High School in Fairfax County (5801 Franconia Rd. Alexandria, VA 22310) is looking for judges for their science fair.

Schedule for Saturday, January 20, 2018

Judges Training: 8:15am – 9:00am (please follow signs posted at the main entrance)

Fair Judging: 9:00am – 1:00pm

Snow Date – January 27 (you are not required to be available for this date)

Judges typically view 10-12 projects, and have a few minutes to  speak directly to the students who have conducted the experiment. There will be a short training session just prior to the science fair during which Edison staff will go over the specific rules and procedures. There will be light refreshments available for judges prior to the start of the fair. Members of the National Honor Society will be providing childcare for children under 12. Please contact Laura Prince (ldprince@fcps.edu) if you would like to take advantage of childcare.

If you would like to volunteer to be a science fair judge at Edison, click here to sign up.


Thank you,

Debbie Meinholdt

Plant NOVA Natives requests all hands on deck!  

Plant NOVA Natives is a joint marketing campaign of more than 40 private, public, and non-profit organizations, including Master Naturalists, and hundreds of individuals. Their mission is to educate the community and to promote the benefits to water quality and natural habitat of planting Northern Virginia natives. Committed volunteers help make this possible by using multimedia outreach and events, and by working with local growers and sellers of native plants. All are welcome to participate in this collective action movement.

Volunteers can participate in myriad ways, from posting signs on community bulletin boards, to giving presentations or participating on the Steering Committee. See their website for details, or contact plantnovanatives@gmail.com.–Margaret Fisher

Stream Monitoring Events: Serve and Learn

Saturday, December 9

Stream Monitoring: Lake Accotink

9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Assess ecological conditions in Lake Accotink, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Where to Meet: Parking lot behind Lake Accotink Park Administrative building. Call or email for directions.

See Friends of Accotink Creek for additional stream monitoring information:



Call for content!

The FMN Strategic Communications and Marketing committee members welcome your news and event notices, learning and service opportunities, stories, resource reviews, (and other ideas–we are open to creative thinking). We curate our content, so, yes, you’ll work with an editor, but the exchange will simply polish your pearl.

Send your content or requests to Marilyn Kupetz: vmnfairfax@gmail.com, with the header: FMN website content

Stream Monitoring Events: Serve and Learn

Certified Monitors Networking and Team Building Workshop

Saturday, November 18

Time: 11am – 1pm

Location: Manassas National Battlefield, Administrative HQ Building

The Northern Virginia and Prince William Soil and Water Conservation Districts are proud to announce the first networking and team building event for certified volunteer stream monitors! Meet fellow certified monitors, discuss best practices with long-time volunteers and staff from the two Conservation Districts, and hear about new national-level stream initiatives from the Izaak Walton League, the coordinators of the Virginia Save Our Streams Program. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Dan Schwartz. Open only to volunteer monitors who have passed their certification test.


Stream Monitoring Workshop: Reston

Monday, November 20

Time: 10am – 1pm

Location: Snakeden Branch behind the Walker Nature Center, Reston

Join Walker Nature Center staff as they monitor Snakeden Branch in the forested parkland behind the Center. To RSVP and get directions, please fill out a Reston Volunteer Application and then sign up through the event calendar.

Habitat Network, A Citizen Science Social Network

Cornell Ornithology Lab and The Nature Conservancy have joined together to create Habitat Network (http://content.yardmap.org), the first citizen science social network. Habitat Network is a citizen science project designed to cultivate a richer understanding of wildlife habitat, for both professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments. They collect data by asking individuals across the country to literally draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools, and gardens. They connect you with your landscape details and provide tools for you to make better decisions about how to manage landscapes sustainably.
The kinds of questions  they are seeking to answer with your help are:
1 What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
2 Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
3 Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
4 What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
5 Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?

Members, Service Project C253-Habitat Yard Mapping has been approved for your use.  You can map your own yard, a local park, or other public or private property for which you have access permission.