Science Saturday: Box Turtles, May 13th

Image: Courtesy of The Clifton Institute

Saturday, May 13, 2023
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Cost: Free

Registration is REQUIRED.

The Clifton Institue
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187

In 2022, a research project was started to study what habitats Box Turtles use at different times of year so that participants and other landowners can know what the best time of year is to mow fields and do other land management practices that might disrupt or even kill Box Turtles. On this second installment of Science Saturdays, participants will help get the 2023 season started by looking for turtles that were radio-tagged last year and potentially finding new turtles to tag. This is a special opportunity to tag along with our staff researchers and see how field science is done.


Fairfax County is expanding the Early Detection, Rapid Response (EDRR) Program

Photo: Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority, Wavyleaf Basket Grass

In an effort to combat newly arriving and not yet established invasive species, Fairfax is hoping to find
people willing to survey parks and map certain invasive species (and when practical remove them).
Surveyors would begin by joining workdays led by FCPA staff and experienced EDRR volunteers before
having the opportunity to go out on their own or in small groups to their local parks. Some of the species
currently being actively hunted are Wavyleaf Basket Grass, Incised Fumewort, Two horned water
chestnut and Leatherleaf Mahonia to name a few. The whole list is here:

You don’t need to be able to recognize all of them, generally a park survey just involves looking for 1 or
2 species that have been reported in an area and recording their presence on EDDMaps or iNaturalist.
Several work dates have been scheduled: From 1:00 to 3:00 on April 10, 11, 17 & 18 at locations to be

Contact: Jas Darby: [email protected] for more information.

To sign up for one of the dates use this link:

FMN’s can log hours under Citizen Science programs for FCPA [C109] if your time is spent mapping or under Invasive Plant Management [S108] for time spent removing invasive plants.




Friday April 28 – Monday May 1, 2023

Do you like observing nature? Make your observations count! The City Nature Challenge is an adventure in metropolitan areas worldwide to discover and identify wildlife. You will be looking for signs of life in parks, neighborhoods, and backyards to see what plants and animals share our environment. Join the City Nature Challenge and become a citizen scientist!

Everyone in the Washington DC metropolitan area with access to a camera and the internet can observe wildlife for the Challenge. Anyone worldwide can help with identifying your finds!

Please review this helpful Resource Sheet on the 2023 CNC for important resources and events!

Where: DC Metro Area City Nature Challenge – Area inside the bright green line on this map.

DC Metro Area City Nature Challenge – Area inside the bright green line on this map.



Meadowlark Botanical Gardens needs our help!


Address: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct,
Vienna VA 22182

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens need people to help with the native plant garden.

Just bring a willingness to participate and learn! They have volunteers ranging from little to no experience in gardening to former professionals. There is no expectation or requirement on hours, but they hope to have volunteers participate at least once or twice a month for a few hours. Many volunteers come once a week in a very regular fashion.

In many cases there is a fear that they do not know enough to begin assisting at the gardens and that is simply not the case. Their team is here to help all volunteers get more comfortable working in the gardens.

You can find the online information as well as the inquiry form here.

If you are interested in more of a single, group day approach, that will require a bit of coordination with the lead horticulturist, Charlies Bruce, to coordinate the details of the day/time. If that is something you are more interested in then they can connect you with Charlie soon!

Jeff Hill
(703)-255-3631 ext. 102

Fairfax County Spring Watershed Cleanup 2023, March – April – May

Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Registration for the annual Fairfax County Spring Watershed Cleanup in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Fairfax County Park Authority is now available at  This year’s cleanup will take place over several dates at 15 Fairfax County Park locations. An estimated 600 volunteers are needed to help clean up plastic bottles, cans and other debris!

Event capacity is limited. Please follow instructions about registering groups in the detail section of the registration pages via Eventbrite. (specific Eventbrite links for each event below. Click on the event to be taken to the registration page).

You can view park locations, dates, times, and number of volunteers needed here.

Saturday, March 25, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, March 25, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Sunday, April 9, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 23, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, April 29

Friday, May 5, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, May 7, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

A confirmation email with additional details will be sent to registered volunteers about 3-5 days before the scheduled cleanup. If you have questions between now and then, please let me know.

If the sites reach capacity, we encourage you to find additional opportunities to volunteer and connect with nature at

Please feel free to pass along to other organizations, friends and family!

Kindest regards,

Lindsey Hosier

Stewardship and Volunteer Program Assistant
[email protected]
765-717-3755 (mobile, text available)
434-951-0572 (office)


The Nature Conservancy
Virginia Field Office
652 Peter Jefferson Parkway
Suite 190
Charlottesville, VA 22911

Animal Care Volunteer Needed at Hidden Oaks

Photo: Hidden Oaks, Fairfax County Park Authority

Hidden Oaks Nature Center (HONC) has an opportunity for animal lovers!

A volunteer or two are needed to help with the care of exhibit animals on Saturdays. Animals in the exhibits include turtles, toads, snakes and other small critters.

The job could be shared by 2 volunteers.  They would split up the month, each doing at least 2 Saturdays.   Because there is training involved in this volunteer opportunity, HONC is asking for a 6-month commitment.

Adults only please.  If interested, contact Avery Gunther ([email protected]) or Janet Siddle ([email protected]).

Record your hours in Better Impact as S182: FCPA Nature Center Animal Care.  In the Description field, note that you worked at Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

Science Saturday: Kestrel Watch, April 29th

Image: Courtesy of The Clifton Institute

Saturday, April 29, 2023
9:00 AM
 – 3:00 PM

The Clifton Institue
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187

Cost: Free
Registration is REQUIRED.

In what The Clifton Institute hopes will become a regular occurrence, they are inviting the public to participate in one of their ongoing research projects. This time you’ll help them track American Kestrels that have been outfitted with GPS transmitters, collect vegetation data in different types of fields, and visit ink-pad tracks to see what kinds of rodents have been visiting. This is a great opportunity to see what it’s like to do field research and to learn about some fascinating native species. Participants will start at the Clifton Institute and then drive to a few nearby properties where kestrels are known to hang out. From Clifton, it is encouraged but not required to carpool in as few cars as possible. They are looking forward to a beautiful day in the field with you!

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.