Winter Salt Watch, your help needed!

With a chill in the air and snowstorms already blowing through some parts of the country, we know that ice, snow, and salt aren’t far behind. It’s time to gear up for Winter Salt Watch!

Last year Winter Salt Watch volunteers helped Izaak Walton League learn more about chloride levels in 17 states across the country. Volunteers and community groups took more than 300 readings using their Salt Watch kits! You can join this nationwide citizen science project and find out how road salt is affecting your local waterways. Order your FREE Winter Salt Watch kit today – even if there’s no snow on the ground yet. You can use your kit right away to take a reading before the road salt starts to pile up. These readings are called “baselines”, and they give you a number against which to compare your winter chloride readings. Without a baseline, you can’t effectively track changes in chloride levels and what’s causing these changes, such as road salt application. Aquatic life is affected by chloride when levels exceed 230 ppm (parts per million). Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes.

This year Izaak Walton League plans to synthesize and share the Salt Watch data with participants regularly throughout the season. Don’t miss an update – request your FREE Salt Watch kit right now!

Learn more about the connection between road salt and water quality.

Explore last year’s results – and see this year’s baselines!

Cutting edge: Water Chestnut Program (WCP) Meeting, Nov. 15th

Twin Lakes Golf Course, Club House, Ball Room
6209 Union Mill Rd., Clifton VA 20125
Friday, 15 November 2019
10 am – 2 pm

The Fairfax Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists is facilitating an informational meeting about the invasive water chestnut (Trapa bispinosa).

The water chestnut program (WCP) would be an early detection and rapid response project for naturalists who would like to identify, verify, map and remove this novel species of water chestnut before it becomes established. The focus area is within the Potomac River watershed in Virginia.

This type of water chestnut, discovered by Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries (VGIF) in the tidal Potomac River at Pohick Bay in 2014, is not known to be established elsewhere in the USA. Scientists at the US Geological Survey (USGS) have found that it is spreading, but it is not yet considered widespread, or outside the Potomac Watershed. This is an opportune time to take measures to remove it before it becomes a huge menace in the Potomac River and watershed. Species of water chestnut (Genus, Trapa) are known to spread extensively and be invasive in Virginia and other regions of similar climate. Trapa can quickly grow over the surface of shallow water, completely shade out native submerged aquatic plants, impede water flow, clog irrigation pipes, alter biodiversity, and obstruct recreational boating and swimming.

Come to learn about this water chestnut species and explore options for eradicating it.  Virginia Master Naturalists, natural resource managers, pond owners, gardeners, naturalists, invasive species managers, pond management companies, and other interested parties are welcome to attend.

Program is free and open to the public. Please see the agenda and register here.  Questions? Email vmnfairfax@gmail.com.

Fairfax Master Naturalists:  This program qualifies for Continuing Education credit.

Fairfax County Bug Bioblitz, Oct. 25-31st

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Gear up for Halloween by looking for creepy crawlies in your neighborhood! Insects support whole ecosystems. Let’s celebrate them!

Insect populations are declining worldwide. Help us monitor our local insect and arachnid populations with this fun citizen science project.

Using iNaturalist, an app that can be downloaded to your Android or Apple phone, make and upload your observations between October 25th – October 31st, anywhere in Fairfax County. You can also join them for their public event on Saturday, October 26th from 10 am – noon at Lake Accotink Park.

More information on iNaturalist here.

 

Using Service Learning and Citizen Science as a Meaningful Context to Teach Plant Science, a talk Nov. 17th

Green Springs Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
Sunday, 17 November 2019
1 – 4pm

Join the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society at their annual meeting with speaker Dr. Peter Mecca.

Dr. Mecca will describe some of the science-learning opportunities available to students at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia. For example, every fall and spring, Mason students assist National Park Service Staff at Shenandoah National Park to remove invasive plants along the Appalachian Trail. In addition, Mason students are leaders in urban agriculture through traditional gardening (raised beds) and alternative gardening (hydroponics, FarmBot) methods. The presenter will share information about a potential new learning opportunity for students – a citizen science experience in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Peter Mecca has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Ecology from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. degree in Environmental Biology from Hood College, and a B.S. degree in Secondary Education – Biology from Penn State. He has served as a public school teacher, science education consultant, administrator, and a university faculty member. Prior to his current position, Dr. Mecca was the Instructional Systems Specialist for Science with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools. He is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Virginia Association of Science Teachers, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and the Council of State Science Supervisors and was awarded the Conservation Education Teacher of the Year by the VA Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Welcome to Project eTrout, citizen science from USGS

Welcome to Project eTrout [instructional video]!

Virtual reality (VR) provides exciting opportunities for environmental education and research. We invite your participation in a new program to engage students, anglers, and citizen scientists in fish ecology and climate change research using new VR methods. Participants will learn about fish ecology first-hand by exploring streams in VR and will be members of a research team lead by US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. This program is free and designed for students, anglers, and citizen scientists of all ages.

Here’s how it works:

1. USGS collects 360-degree video samples from trout streams in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (completed during summer 2018).
2. Participants access videos from a website and use standard computer monitors or VR headsets (e.g., Google cardboard) to watch them.
3. Participants then record data on fish abundance.
4. USGS then analyzes the combined data and reports key findings to participants.

 

Click here to begin.

Click here for a summary of results.

 

For more information and how to register contact:

Nathaniel (Than) Hitt, PhD
US Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center
304-724-4463

https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/nathaniel-hitt

Save the date for the Big Sit!, Oct. 12th

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area
10702 Harley Road, Lorton, VA, 22079
Saturday, 12 October 2019
8am – 1 pm

The Big Sit! is an annual, international birding day sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest and Swarovski Optics. This family fun event was founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club to promote the sport of birding.

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon—participants tally bird species seen or heard within a given time period. It’s called the Big Sit for a good reason—it’s like a tailgate party for birders. Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Meadowood Bureau of Land Management staff for this event.  Bring a chair and your binoculars. Snacks will be provided. You also may go on a guided bird walk or participate in a kid-friendly activity. This event is FREE of charge and open to the public. Watch a video that provides background about the BigSit phenomenon.

Christmas Bird Count Workshop, Nov. 24th

National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive Reston, VA 20190
Sunday, 24 November 2019
1 – 3 pm

Join Phil Silas, the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count (CBC) compiler, to learn about this long-running citizen science bird survey. Phil will cover its purpose, and scope, explain how we organize our CBC and show where the data goes and how it is used. The workshop offers tips on preparing for a winter bird count and will review how to identify many of the birds seen in our area in winter. Light refreshments will be served.

Instructor: Phil Silas is a popular field trip leader and volunteers on many counts and surveys in the area.

This workshop is FREE, but registration is required.  The CBC will be held December 15th.  Learn more here.

Project FeederWatch Workshop, Nov. 9th

National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston 20190
Saturday, 9 November 2019
9 – 11 am

Project FeederWatch is the easiest citizen science you will ever do! From the comfort of your home, you simply count the winter birds that visit your feeders and report your data to Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This FREE workshop will cover a bit of the history of Project FeederWatch, its purpose, tips for identifying birds, and the protocols to be followed while counting. We’ll spend some time practicing with the birds at the ASNV feeders. Light refreshments will be served.

Instructor: Carol Hadlock, volunteer extraordinaire and pioneer with the Audubon at Home program, will instruct this workshop.

Although the workshop is FREE, registration is required.

Help restore native habitat at Lake Accotink Park, October 4

Lake Accotink Park
Lake Accotink Park Rd., Springfield VA
Saturday, 4 October 2019
8 – 10am

Please consider helping Invasive Management Area volunteers to remove alien invasive plants that degrade natural areas by out-competing native plants for resources.

Wear long sleeves and pants (due to poison ivy), and sturdy footwear.  Bring water to stay hydrated (the park has water fountains so reusable bottles are recommended), and use insect repellant for protection against ticks and mosquitoes.  We will supply gloves and equipment.

Please let Elaine know if you can participate or have questions.  She can be reached at yorkiemum.sevy95@gmail.com.

Directions to the Invasive Management Area:  Take Springfield/644W exit from I-95, which puts you on Old Keene Mill Road. At 3rd stoplight, turn right on Hanover Rd. Continue on Hanover (through residential section) to Highland Ave. Turn Left. Turn right on Accotink Park Rd. The park entrance is on the left (an industrial area is on the right). Accotink Park Rd. continues here. Take it until you reach the marina area.

Come to orientation for new volunteers at Riverbend and Scott’s Run, Nov 2

Photo: Ana Ka’Ahanui

Saturday, November 2
9:30 AM -12.30 PM
8814 Jeffery Road, Great Falls, VA 22066

Want to become a volunteer at Riverbend Park or Scott’s Run? Attend the Fall Volunteer Orientation to learn about  opportunities, projects, and events. Positions for Animal Care Volunteers and Program Volunteers are currently open! If you want to get involved in park restoration/other projects, you are more than welcome to join us!

This session will run in two parts:

  1. Orientation for ALL new volunteers (9:30-10:30 AM)
  2. Orientation for specialties such as Animal Care, School Program Leads, and other projects.

 

Animal Care

Volunteer Claire Phan feeding a box turtle a fresh earth worm!

If you love animals this is the opportunity for you! Learn about local wildlife & become a caretaker to our rescued reptiles & amphibians.

Apply by 10/31 to valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov 

Click here to register for Animal Care orientation and training.

 

 

School Program Leads

Volunteer Tom Blackburn showing students a soil sample

Love nature, science, and history? Become a program leader at Riverbend and help educate elementary students about Native American history, soils, wildlife, watershed science, biology & more!

Apply by 10/31 to valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov 

Click here to register for becoming a School Program Lead Volunteer.

 

 

 

Resource Naturalists: Fall Planting Projects (14+ or w/ adult)

Chris Lansing educating volunteers on Mile a Minute clean up

Want to get involved in resource management, restoration, and conservation? Become a Resource Naturalist! We have a few planting projects to complete before winter.

Click here to register.

Email valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov with questions and to RSVP fo orientation on Nov 2

 

 

Scott’s Run Cleanup Group! (14+ or w/ adult)

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Join the SRNP Cleanup Group! Open for students, families, and anyone interested in keeping the park and Potomac river free from litter.

Click here to sign up for fall cleanup days

Want to schedule your own group cleanup? Email Valeria Espinosa!

 

 

Scout Programs Assistant Volunteer! (18+)

Interested in supporting our girl scout and boy scout programs? Join our interpretive team and learn about outdoor/nature education! 

Click here to sign up

 

 

Final Birding Walks!

Friday 10/4 and 10/18 from 8-10 AM @Nature Center

Don’t miss the final birding walks with Kris Lansing and Robin Duska. To sign up email Valeria Espinosa or call 703-759-9018