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 www.nature.org/fairfaxcleanup.  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.


Naturalist volunteer opportunities at Hidden Oaks!

Photo: Hidden Oaks, Fairfax County Park Authority
Share your love of nature at Hidden Oaks Nature Center!
Hidden Oaks has opportunities for program assistants this spring.  You’ll interact with kids and families doing hands-on activities, experiments, demonstrations and crafts.
As a program assistant, you work with a staff naturalist and enhance your interpretation skills.  One volunteer is needed for each of the below programs except as noted.  To volunteer, contact Kim Young or Kari Schilling, as indicated below:

Friday, March 17, 2023
4:30-5:30PM and 7:00-8:00 pm

St. Patrick’s Day Science:

(5-12 yrs.) Come and explore some green, leprechaun science that seems like magic. We will discover what those tricky leprechauns have up their sleeves, make green snow, green slime worms, and other exciting explorations- contact [email protected]

 Sunday, March 26, 2023
1:30-2:30 pm


(5-12 yrs.) Find out what’s cracking (or not) as we do various experiments with eggs and learn about their many amazing properties—contact [email protected]

Sunday, May 21,2023
12:15-3:45 pm

DinoFest in Nature Playce:

(3-9 yrs.) Learn and explore in dinoland! Compare your height and length to that of dinosaurs. Search for hidden dinosaurs and tracks. Make a fossil impression to take home. Canceled if rain. Child must be accompanied by an adult—contact [email protected]    2-3 volunteers welcome

But that’s not all! 
You can contact Hidden Oaks Volunteer Coordinator Janet Siddle, [email protected], to connect with other programs and projects that match your interests and availability.
There is an on-going need for volunteers to help lead Hidden Oaks’ many programs and camps.  In addition, there are openings for shifts at the Visitor Information Desk.  You would be talking to the public as they enter the building, directing them to their possible interests and answering their many questions.

Let’s Rev it Up with R3

FMN would like to re-announce a program that supports Fairfax County Schools. In fact, some schools may already be participating in this program so “Rev it Up for 2023” maybe more appropriate. At any rate, FMN has been provided with a revitalized R3 operating guide and volunteers may earn service hours for their efforts planning, planting, and maintaining gardens specific to this program.

FMN Stewardship service code –

S177: FCPS Revitalize, Restore, Repurpose (R3) Program — FCPS

The focus of this program is to provide support to Fairfax County Public School’s Revitalize, Restore, Repurpose (R3) Program.  FMN members are needed to support Fairfax County Storm Water Management (FCSWM) ecologists responsible for working with the schools on these outdoor classrooms.  FMN members will assist with educating students about stormwater management and provide support maintaining the gardens once FCSWM and the school completes the initial installation. Maintenance generally includes: providing guidance to the students and schools for long term care, and regular weeding to keep the site in good condition, cutting back dead growth to allow for new growth every winter/early spring, and to provide specialized support as needed by each school and site.

If you have questions please contact:
FMN coordinator – Jessica Fish [email protected]
FCSWM Manager – Dionna Bucci [email protected]

For general information read about the R3 program.

For information tailored to FMN participants, please contact Jessica.

Help Control Invasive Plants with the Friends of Dyke Marsh, February 4th & 18th and March 4th & 18th

Photo: Courtesy of National Park Service, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve 

Saturdays, February 4 and 18 and March 4 and 18, 2023
10:00 AM

Meet at the Haul Road Trail entrance bulletin board.
GPS coordinates: 38.777739, -77.050540

South of Alexandria off the GW Memorial Parkway at
the sign for Dyke Marsh Nature Preserve and Belle Haven Marina,
turn east onto the road toward the Potomac River. Take the first
left and park in the Belle Haven Park lot. Walk back to the marina
road and turn east, toward the river. Walk 30 yards. On your right
is a Dyke Marsh sign and the entrance to the Haul Road trail.

Sign up by sending an email to [email protected]


Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh at 10 a.m. on these dates and help tackle invasive plants: February 4 and 18 and March 4 and 18.

Meet at the Haul Road Trail entrance bulletin board. Bring water, gloves, hand clippers and a lopper, if you have one. We will supply instructions, examples of targeted plants and trash bags. We will have a few hand clippers and loppers to share. Wear long sleeves and pants and sturdy shoes.

Sign up by sending an email to [email protected] and put “Invasive Plants” in the subject box. Indicate your preferred date(s). We kindly ask that you not bring pets.

Welcome Fairfax Tree Stewards

Cover photo: Public Domain

In January 2023, the FMN board approved a chapter partnership with Fairfax Tree Stewards (FTS). FTS is an educational, non-profit, volunteer organization providing specialized training and certification focusing on trees. It is a program under the auspices of Trees Virginia, registered with the state as Virginia Urban Forest Council and is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life through the Stewardship of our Commonwealth’s urban and community trees. Founded in September 1990 and incorporated in June 1991, the organization works to promote an awareness of our community forests and the value of trees. Approved chapters, such as FTS, use the newly updated Manual to form the basis of training classes, and FTS will supplement book learning with hands on field classes on tree selection, tree planting, tree pruning and tree ID by season.
The first FTS certification class, scheduled for February 2023, is full and includes a few FMNs. FTS is an approved CE organization and service codes for collaborative projects have been created in BI for use by FMN volunteers as projects develop.

Habitat creation and restoration – E405: Educational Projects Fairfax Tree Stewards – – FTS
Educational project code for Fairfax Tree Stewards (FTS).
Educational Projects could be advising a homeowner or association on proper tree selection and planting, education about maintenance, developing resource lists, or FTS tabling events at selected locations in Fairfax County.
When recording these hours in BI, ‘FTS’ should be entered as the Project Organization.

Habitat creation and restoration – S405: Stewardship Projects Fairfax Tree Stewards – – Department of Forestry (VDoF)
Stewardship project code for Fairfax Tree Stewards (FTS).
Stewardship Projects could be helping a homeowner or association with proper physical design, planting, tree pruning, or maintenance, at selected locations in Fairfax County.
When recording these hours in BI, ‘Department of Forestry (VDoF)’ should be entered as the Project Organization.

To participate in FTS projects, one must be a certified Fairfax Tree Steward along with being an FMN member.

Please see FTS website for more information.

FMN and FTS contact is Jeanne Kadet: [email protected]