Hidden Oaks Nature Center Needs Volunteers for Family Activities in March

Hidden Oaks Nature Center has many opportunities for volunteers. Here are a few:

Full Moon Hike and Campfire

2 March, 7-8.45 pm

Help the resident naturalist with an outdoor hike and campfire prep and clean up. You have the option to lead part of the program at campfire, including story telling.

Flying Squirrels Gliding in Tonight

11 March, 6.15-8.00 pm

Help a naturalist with a program on gray vs. flying squirrels and see live squirrels at the feeders.

Dinosaur Egg Hunt

25, 29, 30 March, 1 April, 9.30-4.00 pm

Come help with one or more of their dinosaur egg hunts, each 45 min. Volunteers will help lead a short indoor presentation, and/or the craft and/or the egg hunt in Nature Playce. This event enjoys a highly-diverse audience. No candy distributed.

For all activities, contact Suzanne Holland at [email protected] for details and to volunteer.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center, 7701 Royce ST., Annandale, VA 22003

The Fairfax County volunteer website has LOTS of service opportunities

Do you need fresh ideas on where to find meaningful volunteer work? The Fairfax County volunteer website has a special section listing volunteer opportunities for people who are interested in the environment, parks, recreation, or sports. 

You will need to register, but it only takes 10-15 minutes to complete the application. Dozens of opportunities qualify for FMN service hours (e.g., volunteering at our county parks, rec centers and other public lands).  

Don’t forget to check the County website for new opportunities from time to time; you can even search for opportunities by date.  If you see more than you can do yourself, share them with the rest of us!

Invasive cleanups at Salona Meadows

There are several volunteer opportunities coming up to help control invasive plants at Salona Meadows in McLean. Alan Ford, president of the Potomack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, leads the Saturday cleanups on the following dates:  Feb. 17, Mar. 3, Mar. 17, and Mar. 31. Volunteers will work from 11 a.m. to about 1:30 or 2 p.m.

Email Alan at [email protected] if you’re interested! The property is protected by a conservation easement that Northern Virginia Conservation Trust monitors, and it is slated to become a Fairfax County Park.  Salona Meadows is located on Dolley Madison Blvd. and Buchanan Street, and parking is available at Trinity United Methodist Church, just across the street.

Family friendly volunteer opportunities: Restore habitat in Oakton and Vienna, 27 January

The Invasive Management Area (IMA) Program is hosting habitat restoration service opportunities on Saturday, 27 January, in Wayland Street Park in Oakton, and Borges Street Park in Vienna . See calendar for details of timing and requirements.

  • The minimum age to volunteer is 11. Please contact the IMA Coordinator for details.
  • Volunteers 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Students who need community service hours, please bring the form to be signed to your workday.
  • IMA workday forms must be received by noon the day prior to the event for weekday workdays, and by noon on Friday for weekend workdays.

The IMA Volunteer Program is a community-based project designed to reduce invasive plants on our parklands. This program gives volunteers an opportunity to connect with like-minded people while taking care of natural resources. Through IMA, you’ll protect the plants and wildlife of Fairfax County’s forests while spending time outdoors, meeting new people and restoring natural habitats.

IMA is more than just pulling weeds. It’s also habitat restoration and a long-term commitment to parks. Invasive plant species are difficult to remove and control, but with the help of IMA volunteers, undesirable non-native, invasive plants are removed and native plants are returned to the habitat. Native plantings take place in the spring and fall.

The IMA project began in 2006 with 20 sites. Since then, more than 35 acres have come under IMA management, and there are 40 active IMA sites. More acres have been treated and restored by contractors and staff.

Volunteer opportunity: Help the Invasive Management Area program

The Fairfax County Park Authority has a volunteer program that battles invasive species, by removing them and replacing them with native species.  The Invasive Management Area (IMA) program is more than just pulling weeds. It’s also habitat restoration and a long-term commitment to parks.

Get involved! Even a few hours on a single day will help.  The IMA calendar is your opportunity to volunteer. To join a workday, click on the IMA Calendar or contact Erin Stockschlaeder at 703-324-8681 or Lindsay Edwards at 703-324-2598.

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 [email protected]. 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: [email protected] 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 ([email protected]) 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