Shortleaf pine Crop Tree Release, June 29th

EVENT POSTPONED DUE TO LOW PARTICIPANT RESPONSE

 

Conway Robinson State Forest, Gainesville, VA
Meet at the parking area on N side of US-29 at the intersection of University Blvd and US-29
Saturday, 29 June 2019
7:30-11 am

The planted shortleaf pines at Conway Robinson State Forest, though a native to the area, is facing strong competition from the faster growing loblolly pine. Come out and help Department of Forestry release the shortleaf with hand tools. What is a Crop Tree Release (CTR), why would we do it, and how would we go about it? CTR is a pre-commercial (doesn’t make money) practice that targets a certain species or category of trees that are desirable, but are facing competition from their neighbors. The idea is to remove the competition in favor of the desired or target trees and allow said trees to grow freely. This removal is best done mechanically by cutting down or girdling the competing trees adjacent to the target tree. Contact: HeritageHabitat@yahoo.com.

Sign up at:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScDdjx3_D0IXaoNR1O33plY-RxhcYl24sj7Av3wvoHU-YT3HQ/viewform

Thriving Earth Exchange introduces the Community Science Fellowship

Thriving Earth Exchange’s new Community Science Fellowship offers the chance to build your skills and make a difference as you facilitate a collaborative project to address critical community priorities. Shepherding a community science project from idea to impact, our volunteer Fellows hone the skills to manage diverse teams, work across disciplinary boundaries, and connect science to action.

Learn more about the Fellowship experience.

Apply to become a Fellow.

Volunteer opportunity: Wildlife program for children at Lorton Church

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Victory Temple
7218 Lockport Place, Lorton, VA
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
6-6:45 pm OR 7-7:45 pm

If you love sharing nature with kids, this is for you!

This is a nature program for kids with the theme “In the Wild.”  Your choice – just insects or native insects, reptiles and amphibians.  Hidden Oaks Nature Center (7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA) provides materials, animals and (if desired) script. Project includes transport and set up of materials. Audience will be 30-40 children, grades K-6.

Stream monitoring and stream clean up events, June 15th, 22nd and 29th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Potomac Cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center
8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring MD
Saturday, 15 June 2019
9 am-12 pm

Join Potomac Conservancy, The Office of Congressman Jamie Raskin, and Montgomery Parks in a stream and park cleanup at the Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring, MD! They’ll be collecting trash, beautifying the community, and fighting for clean water on a beautiful summer day! Potomac Conservancy will provide trash grabbers, gloves, bags, and all other materials for a successful cleanup. Register here.

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park Monitoring Workshop
Leigh Mill Rd., Great Falls, VA
Saturday, 22 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) as they discover aquatic life in Difficult Run! This official NVSWCD stream monitoring workshop covers watershed health, what macroinvertebrates tell us about stream quality, and what you can do to prevent pollution in your local stream. This workshop will also help to prepare you to become a certified stream monitor. Registration is limited. Send questions to Ashley Palmer and RSVP here.

Prince William Water Quality Monitoring
Powells Creek, Along 15601 Northgate Dr., Montclair, VA
Saturday, 29 June 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Buck Arvin and the Merrimac Master Naturalist Team in monitoring the Powell’s Creek in the Montclair area. Residents are welcome to come support the data collection of this stream and learn more about the water quality in their local stream.
For directions RSVP to Buck Arvin at buckarvin@comcast.net.

Riverbend Park: A story of abundant opportunities to volunteer

Tom Blackburn

When I graduated from the Master Naturalist training program about five years ago, Riverbend Park was the first place I looked for volunteer opportunities.  Although I volunteer with other parks and organizations, Riverbend has long been my favorite place to work.  Over the years, I have helped with kayak trips, astronomy programs, Bluebell Festivals, Native American Festivals, summer camps, scout merit badges, educational hikes, and trash cleanups.  I even created and led “Moonshine and Mayhem” hikes, with guidance from Park staff, during which I interpreted the history of the park during the Prohibition Era.  But my most rewarding time at the park has been as a School Programs Lead Volunteer (E 110).  

Riverbend hosts numerous classes of second through fourth graders who come to learn about the park’s natural resources, Native Americans, ecology, and the environment.  School Programs Lead Volunteers have a unique opportunity to open students’ eyes and imaginations to the natural world and the cultural history of the area.  Grade school students have a sense of wonder and excitement about the world that inspires me every time I lead a class.  Their enthusiasm as they learn to shoot a bow and arrow, figure out why sand is deposited along a trail, squeal over frogs and snakes, or learn life cycles of animals and plants always leaves me even more energized after the class than when I begin it.  I end each session convinced that I benefited from the class at least as much as the students.   

Working at Riverbend is particularly enjoyable because of the park’s welcoming and appreciative staff.  Rita Peralta, the Natural Resources Manager; Jordan Libera, the Senior Interpreter Program Manager; Valeria Espinoza, the Volunteer Coordinator; Julie Gurnee, the Visitor Center Manager; and the Interpreters are all committed to their tasks and a pleasure to work with.  

Numerous other FMNers have found Riverbend to be a rewarding place to volunteer.  To name just a few, Kris Lansing and Robin Duska lead bird walks (C106); Nancy Yinger, Jean Skolnick, Jerry Peters, Doreen Peters, and Janice Meyer conduct citizen science surveys of wildflowers, salamanders and dragonflies (C106); and Marilyn Kupetz provides care for the park’s animals (S182).  Other FMNs have helped with eliminating invasives and planting native plants at the park.  

It’s easy to begin volunteering at Riverbend.  Valeria Espinoza coordinates volunteers and sends periodic messages about volunteer opportunities.  If you contact her at valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov, she will tell you how to get on her list.  And the Park  is accepting applications for School Programs Lead Volunteers through September, at https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179279. 

Come volunteer at Riverbend–you’ll be glad you did!

Volunteer at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court
Vienna, VA 22182
Any morning Monday through Thursday

Calling all gardeners! Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, a NOVA Park, needs volunteers to supports its 95 acres of ornamental display gardens and native plant collections for the enjoyment and education of our community.

If you have a specific interest in native plants or conservation gardening, please specify in your application. We are growing our volunteer base in the Potomac Valley Collection (PVC) and Virginia Native Wetlands (VNC).

To volunteer any morning Monday through Thursday:
-Email Tammy Burke at tburke@nvrpa.org
-Fill out an application online, visit Meadowlark’s web page
-Call 703-352-5900

Free butterfly workshop, June 24th, then census June 29th

National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190
Monday, 24 June 2019
7-9 pm

The sight of butterflies fluttering around on a warm day is one of the most iconic signs of summer. These beautiful insects usually only live for a few weeks as adults, but they make quite an impression while they are in their full glory. There is a large variety of butterfly species in our area and we are going to census them on June 29 during the 19th Annual North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Count sponsored by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. The NABA count takes place in and around our Occoquan Bay Count Circle. In preparation, Dr. Leslie Ries will be teaching a butterfly workshop focusing on identifying butterflies in Northern Virginia. The classroom portion of the workshop is FREE, but registration is required.

NVSWCD recognizes Plant NoVA Natives Campaign Partners as 2018 Cooperator of the Year

(Republished from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District site)

Established in 2011, the Plant NOVA Natives initiative has been key in increasing awareness of native plants across Northern Virginia and working across non-profit, government, and industry sectors to promote the use of natives in landscapes.  The work of the campaign partners greatly supports the initiatives of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD).  Information is sought between agencies to share common messages and lift each other’s programs.

For example, in spring 2018, the Plant NOVA Natives group purchased advertisements (pay for clicks) on social media platforms that promoted the use of native plants and linked to NVSWCD’s Seedling Sale webpage.  In total, the partners spent roughly $100 to promote the sale.  This drove many new customers to purchase seedlings, rain barrels, or composters during the sale, benefitting NVSWCD environmental education programs.

In addition, campaign partners post blog and Facebook items about the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program and the benefits the program provides for water quality through the addition of native plants as Conservation Landscapes.  Through their efforts, the Native Plants for Northern Virginia guidebook has become the definitive resource for highlighting the most common native plants in our region.  The campaign has renewed the interest in the utility of native plants throughout the landscaping community and many retail establishments have improved native plant visibility since the campaign began.  The campaign’s website is a clearinghouse and wealth of regionally-specific information, resources, and events.

There is no doubt that this campaign has contributed significantly to bringing groups together and elevating the shared interest in the use of native plants across many different landscapes.  The program is truly a partnership, by which the work of several agencies outweighs the work of one.  It is for these reasons and many more, that we recognize the Plant NOVA Natives Campaign partners as our 2018 Cooperator of the Year awardees.

The Cooperator of the Year award is named in honor of Diane Hoffman, an Associate Director with NVSWCD and the former NVSWCD District Administrator, for the legacy of cooperative spirit that she instilled throughout all District programs.

Visit https://www.plantnovanatives.org for more information about partnership, find native plant sales, and to peruse the wonderful resources they provide.

Fairfax Master Naturalist earns Reston’s 2019 55+ Volunteer of the Year Award

Don Coram

On April 18, I received the Reston Association 2019 55+ Volunteer of the Year Award. This surprised me since, although I am a certified Virginia Master Naturalist in the Fairfax Chapter, and my volunteer work was related to insects, my career was in mathematics. So how did I end up getting an award for service related to insects? Here is the story.

The Volunteer Reston Service Awards aim to recognize all of Reston’s volunteers and to distinguish a few volunteers who have gone above and beyond to support Reston Association (RA) and the Reston community. As a volunteer, I have been working to fill voids in Reston’s nature program, specifically related to insects and other arthropods. Insects may seem to be insignificant, but there are increasing alarms in the scientific community about the decline of insect populations and the negative effects to life on earth, including humans. 

One of the global issues is whether seasonal activity of plants, insects and birds are all responding synchronously to climate change. This issue is being addressed by CaterpillarsCount!, a National Science Foundation-funded study with lead universities of University of North Carolina, Georgetown University, and University of Connecticut. Reston’s Walker Nature Center (WNC) is one of the 73 sites in the Eastern United States. Georgetown University approached the WNC seeking volunteers to collect data. WNC in turn contacted the FMN members in Reston to ask for volunteers. I volunteered and became the lead citizen scientist data collector for WNC site. The project required weekly surveys of caterpillars and other arthropods, in accordance with a strict scientific protocol, throughout the season. A colleague from Georgetown and I briefed the results in an FMN-recognized program at the WNC on April 23.  

Another challenge that I accepted was publicizing the bee kill in Reston. I also informed the Reston Association Board of Directors, briefed the Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Committee, notified the Environmental Protection Agency, and contacted the Xerces Society, the national society for invertebrate conservation.  

I have participated in Reston’s Dragonfly Counts for many years and was recently promoted to instructor for the preparatory class and leader for the counting teams. (The class and the counting are FMN continuing education and service activities, E252 and C171, respectively.)  The original instructor on dragonflies in Reston moved away several years ago, so I volunteered to take over this project. Similarly, I led both teams surveying dragonflies in the 2018 Reston BioBlitz, when the leader of one of the teams was unable to participate.  

I have also volunteered in Reston surveys of butterflies and birds (FMN continuing education and service projects, E250,  C171, and C248). In fact, my volunteering began years ago with birds, continued to butterflies, and now includes dragonflies and caterpillars.  

I used the data gathered on butterflies, dragonflies, native bees, and caterpillars to author the invertebrates section of the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER), yet another FMN service project: C245. In the first edition of RASER, I contributed to several other sections, but observed that these sections were well-covered by the RASER working group, except for invertebrates. Thus for the second edition, I focused on invertebrates as the sole author.  

For each of the above projects, I volunteered time and expertise to photograph the subjects. For example, all of the photographs I used in the identification section of the Reston Dragonfly Class were taken in Reston. I believe that amateur photographs taken locally are easier for students to relate to than professional photographs in field guides covering a wide, unfamiliar area. I also submitted many of these photographs to iNaturalist and BugGuide.  

The activities discussed above illustrate success in meeting the FMN goal “to provide education, outreach and service for the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas in the Fairfax County area”. I first learned about FMN at the Spring Festival at the WNC in Reston.    

So the answer to the question of how a mathematician became a volunteer entomology awardee is the Fairfax Master Naturalist program.  

I welcome your participation in any of the projects I support.

A regional request for volunteer help with a study on the Bradford pear 

Question 1: What is the most recent invasive tree added to Director of Conservation & Recreation’s invasive plant list?
Answer: Callery Pear, aka, Bradford Pear: Pyrus calleryana Decne

Question 2: What can we do about it?
Answer: Support a regional research project by collecting leaf samples.

Callery pear is one of the most rapidly-spreading invasive plants in the eastern U.S. This plant stems from cultivars of ornamental pears, most commonly the Bradford pear. Callery pear can have long thorns and grows singly or in thick patches in old fields, roadsides, or forested areas.

The Callery pear population genetics study, under the direction of Dr. David Coyle (Clemson) and D. Hadziabdich-Guerry (University of Tennessee), is determined to better understand the genetics of this cultivar to inform future management tactics. To this end, foliar samples are needed from Virginia. The protocol is simple and the only cost is time.

Detailed information and how to send the samples is in the attached pdf, which can also be found on the study’s website.

Summary of the basics

  • Find one or more patches of “wild” callery pears of at least 10 individuals (different sample/patches locations should be at least 15 miles apart).
  • From each individual tree (10 trees total/site), collect 10 leaves. (Ten trees in a patch are required.)
  • Put all 10 leaves from each tree into its own envelope with the GPS location noted and if the tree is thorny or not.
  • Put newspaper in between the leaves – this helps them dry out and ensures they don’t mold on the way to UT.
  • Therefore, each sampling site would have 10 envelopes (1 per tree) to send in together.
  • Envelopes can be FedEx’ed to UT (for free!) Details given in information sheet attached.

Questions?  Contact Dr. David Coyle: dcoyle@clemson.edu