Fall 2019 Basic Training: Applications Now Open

Come learn from local experts who cover topics in biogeography, citizen science, ecology, geology, interpretation, native flora and fauna, weather and climate, and much more.

The Basic Training Course, the first step towards initial certification, offers fun and interactive instruction on our local environment. Becoming certified typically takes 6 to 12 months. The first step is attending all classes and field trips (or making them up), completing the final exam and presenting a service project.

Initial certification, as well as annual recertification, requires 8 hours of continuing education and 40 hours of volunteer service. Basic and continuing education is both educational and useful for preparing participants to volunteer as master naturalists in their communities.

Apply Today – must be postmarked by July 19!


FALL 2019 COURSE DETAILS

  • Classes run September 5, 2019 – November 21, 2019 on Thursdays, 7:00–10:00 pm.
  • Classes meet at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA.
  • Field trips to Fairfax County natural areas will be held Saturdays September 21, October 5, October 19 and November 16 , 9:00 am–3:00 pm.
  • Attendance at the 12 classes and 4 field trips is mandatory for certification. Up to three classes (or two classes and one field trip) may be made up within 12 months of completion of basic training (e.g., during the next training cycle, with another master naturalist chapter, or by making special arrangements with approval from the Training Committee Chair).
  • Students need internet access because course materials and announcements will be provided online.
  • The program is targeted toward adults, 18 or older. Youth, age 16-17, may apply under specific conditions.
  • Class size is limited to 20 trainees with a maximum of two youth.
  • The course fee of $200 covers basic training and course materials. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. To request a scholarship, attach a letter to your application stating your need
    and the portion of the course fee that you can pay.

Completed applications, along with a check for $200 made payable to Fairfax Master Naturalists, must be postmarked no later than 19 July 2019.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION AND APPLY TODAY

VMN CE webinar: Building Cultural Competence

Thursday, 25 July  2019
12:00 pm
Meeting Number: 908-683-587
Link to Join: Join Webinar
Link for recordings of this and past webinars:
VMN Continuing Education Webinar page

This workshop will take an active, participatory approach to building cultural competence. As we walk through the world, our own bias can effect how we interact with people and places. By recognizing our identity, we can increase our ability to create welcoming environments to serve our stakeholders. Building cultural competence can help attract and retain youth and participants from diverse audiences and encourage the Virginia Master Naturalists to expand capacity in their volunteer network to continue managing natural resources and natural areas in their communities.

Dr. Tiffany Drape is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. She conducts research and teaches about program planning and evaluation.

Chesapeake Bay Ecology trip, August 17-18, 2019

Calvert County, MD
Saturday, August 17, 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, August 18, 11:00 a.m.

Fee: $95 Audubon Society of Northern Virginia members, $115 non-members, includes guided tour of Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, lunch on Saturday, admission at the Calvert Marine Museum, and a two-hour private charter on the Dee of St. Mary’s.

Group Limit: 15 participants.

The group will explore Calvert County, MD. They’ll meet at 9:30 a.m. at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, where they’ll explore one of the northernmost naturally occurring bald cypress stands in North America. Then they’ll head to Solomon’s Island for a guided tour of the Calvert Marine Museum and private charter on the Dee of St. Mary’s, one of the few remaining skipjacks on the Chesapeake Bay. We finish our visit with an early Sunday morning visit to Calvert Cliffs State Park (state park fee $7/car), the site of astonishing quantities of prehistoric marine fossils. Although Calvert County is close by, it still seems remote and is a treasure to visit.

The Chesapeake Bay provides the ecological, cultural and historic foundation of our region. To understand the bay, its seasonal narration, complex history, and stewardship needs each of us should be grounded in this place. For over 150 years, our stewardship of the bay region has been disrespectful to the complex natural systems. Water quality, indigenous species, and even people living around the bay have suffered from the impacts of mistreatment. With increased public awareness, public policy has slowly changed, and some progress has been made. Join Dr. Tom Wood on this experiential learning weekend to explore this national treasure.

Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Integrative and Interdisciplinary Studies in the School of Integrative Studies at George Mason University. He conducted his doctoral research at the Smithsonian and helped create the Smithsonian-Mason Semester and directed the development of Mason’s joint program with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Hotel Reservations: A block of rooms has been reserved at the Holiday Inn Solomon’s Conference Center and Marina at a rate of $109 (not included with fee.) Please make your reservation no later than July 26. Group rate code will be included in the confirmation email sent from EventBee.

Register here.

Revitalize, Restore, Replant (R3) seeks volunteers

Fairfax County Stormwater division is seeking plant-knowledgeable volunteers (on a one-off or recurring basis) to help thin/weed native plant gardens installed on school properties around the county through their “Revitalize, Restore, Replant! (R3) program“.

Each school’s garden has been documented with the species planted, and your skill comes in to help remove plants that aren’t those desirable plants as well as to thin natives that have made the garden look “messy”. Volunteers can work with Stormwater to even take some natives home, if that is of interest. Additionally, if you know of better species that you’d recommend for a certain garden, suggestions are welcome! The spreadsheet (R3 Plantings and Survivorship) has school names, locations (city/zip), and types of plants included to make the task even easier.

How often would you need to visit? Overall, it would be great to get volunteers (not necessarily the same one) to visit each garden 3-4 times a year, with a few times during the growing seasons and then a March visit to help prep the site for spring growth.

If you’re interested in helping one-off or on a recurring basis, please contact watersheds@fairfaxcounty.gov.

This project qualifies for service hours as Project S224, Stewardship projects for Fairfax County Public Schools.

VMN CE webinar: Wilderness Preparation and Safety, July 16th

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Noon
Meeting Number: 849-499-650
Link to Join: Join Webinar
Link for recordings of this and past webinars: VMN Continuing Education Webinar Page

Have you led a community group on a wildflower walk in the woods, either on trail or off? Hiked off-trail to retrieve a wildlife camera? Been to a remote corner of your county for a bird or frog survey? Some naturalists spend a lot of time outdoors, occasionally in remote places. Whenever you are going into the field, no matter how short or long of a distance, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare to help you and everyone in your group stay safe. In this session, you’ll learn from an expert about how to plan ahead for your field experiences, as well as what safety-related items to carry with you. While this session won’t substitute for an in-person first aid class, it will help you think through likely risks you might encounter in the field and how to prepare for them.

The presenter is Matt Rosefsky,a certified Wilderness EMT and Geo Medic. He has been a wilderness medicine instructor for MEDIC SOLO Disaster + Wilderness Medical School since 2007, teaching more than 200 courses and more than 3,000 students. He is a volunteer with Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group and the Medical Reserve Corps. Over 19 years he has led hundreds of outdoor adventures through groups such as Outdoors at UVA, the Sierra Club, and the Outdoor Adventure Social Club. Backpacking is Matt’s favorite outdoor activity.

Smithsonian Gardens presents Habitat

HABITAT is a two-year Smithsonian-wide exhibition exploring one big idea: Protecting habitats protects life.

Here are the 14 exhibits:

  1. Sheltering Branches
  2. Life Underground
  3. Dead Wood Is Life
  4. We Need You!
  5. Nests
  6. Bug B&B
  7. Biomes: Life in the Balance
  8. Key to the Forest
  9. Sign of the Dragonfly
  10. Foundation of the Sea
  11. Homes
  12. Monarchs on the Move
  13. Habitat of Flight
  14. Native Landscape

Learn more

 

Healthy Parks, Healthy People 5k Fun Run/Walk

July 20, 2019

7:30 am – 11:00 am

(MD) Join Brookside Gardens, Latino Outdoors, Latino Health Initiative and Montgomery County Councilmember Gabe Albornoz in celebrating Latino Conservation Week at the Second Annual Healthy Parks, Healthy People 5k Fun Run/Walk!

Full details here

2019 Green Spaces for DC Meet + Greet

Thursday, July 18th
5:30-7:30pm
Historic Earth Conservation Corps Pumphouse

Join the GSDC Board of Directors for a summer evening of networking and celebration on the Anacostia River. Capital Nature is a proud member of the Green Spaces for DC (GSDC) alliance of organizations that support healthy and accessible green areas for the Washington DC area. Come hear about their advocacy. See old friends and make new ones. Special guest, naturalist and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley, will talk about her latest project!

Refreshments provided by The Green Bee Cafe and friends.

Free. To attend, please RSVP.

Service opportunities with Plant NOVA Natives

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir

“Art Director” needed – Some concepts are expressed better with art than with photos or words. If you would like to coordinate the work of artists who might enjoy donating artistic interpretations for the PNN website and other purposes of things like  “Baby birds need insects, and insects need native plants,” email plantnovanatives@gmail.com.

A second website manager needed – The work is light, but it is good to have more than one person doing updates to the PNN website.

Know of any good lawn and garden maintenance companies? PNN would like to compile a list of vendors that have experience in maintaining native plantings and/or environmentally friendly landscapes. Email your recommendations to plantnovanatives@gmail.com. PNN will then email the companies and ask them if they would like to self-identify as ones that have that kind of experience.

Help label plants at garden centers – There are now 16 garden centers where we are putting red stickers on the Virginia native plants. PNN needs more volunteers at several of those nurseries (particularly Lake Ridge Nursery in Dumfries, Merrifield Fair Oaks and Burke Nursery, but there are others as well). It is a great way to get to know your native plants, and very fun as well! PNN tries to have someone visit each nursery a couple times a month and to have at least two volunteers at each place. They also need help approaching garden centers that are not yet participating.

Another volunteer opportunity – Sept 29: NatureFest, Herndon. Sign up here.

Next Steering Committee meeting – All are welcome! The next meeting is scheduled for August 13 at 10:30 am, but please always check the Event Calendar in case there is a change.

Faith in action

Photo by Ana Ka’ahanui

Margaret Fisher

A commitment to stewardship of the Earth has a spiritual foundation in most faith communities. In recent years, many have come to understand that their responsibility for nature begins at home, at their places of worship. The true residents of churches, temples and mosques are not the humans using the buildings, which often sit empty for much of the week, but the birds, butterflies, frogs and a host of other small congregants who share the property. When faith leaders ask “Who are our neighbors?”, they do not have far to look.

As you drive around Northern Virginia, you may notice more and more places of worship that are incorporating native plants into their landscaping. Six communities were given an extra hand with that process when the Audubon-at-Home program and Plant NOVA Natives awarded them grants provided by the National Audubon Society’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants. Members of each community created landscaping projects in visible areas of the property with signs to explain that native plants support birds and other wildlife. The new plantings were part of a greater educational process to demonstrate to congregants how they can take action on their own properties to save the local wildlife. As places of worship often include large areas of impervious surfaces, converting sections of lawn to conservation landscaping can bring significant benefits to our streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

Grace Presbyterian now has several very visible pollinator gardens buzzing with bees. Organizer Dave Lincoln reports, “It seems every few weeks one of our Pastors brings up our obligations as stewards of God’s Creation, and most times they mention the importance of restoring productivity in our landscaping choices.”

According to Nancy Davis at Beth El Hebrew Congregation, “Service to the community is a basic part of Judaism. Our planting day with students in grades three through seven was a tremendous success. With the help of master gardeners, the students put in hundreds of native species purchased with money from the Audubon Burke grant, in a little more than two hours. Each student planted from one to three plugs or plants. Preschoolers did some planting on another day.”

Steve Wharton of St. Peter’s in the Woods writes, “Reaction to the Pollinator Garden has been very positive. This past Sunday the minister, Reverend Susan, stopped me to tell me that she usually pauses as she enters or leaves and takes a moment to see what is visiting the flowers. She said, “Yesterday there were the usual Bees, a Monarch Butterfly and a Hummingbird all in the garden at once.”  She was quite excited about it.  On my way out I was pleased to see a clear winged “hummingbird” moth. The bergamot in particular really draws in a wide variety of pollinators.  Cannot wait to see what the garden attracts when the garden is more mature a couple years from now.”

The planting of native plants on the grounds of Our Lady Good Counsel Church and School has enhanced the awareness of nature particularly for families of preschool and elementary grade children. This focus on environmental stewardship is advocated by Pope Francis.

Crossroads United Methodist has long been involved in educating their own congregation and the surrounding community about the value of native plants. In 2017, they held a public screening of the movie Hometown Habitat, targeted at homeowners associations. They made use of the Burke Grant by converting large areas of lawn to native plantings near the church office entry. Beautiful sun and shade gardens now grace those areas.

McLean Islamic Center and Mosque held two plantings, one for the mosque’s entrance beds and one for the Gild Scout troop bed, and both were well attended. The Community Service Committee and the Sunday School followed up with a day that they initially called “How Green is your Deen?” “Deen” refers to religion, and children learned about the importance Islam places on preserving the environment and caring for other creatures.

For more details and many photos of these projects as well as ones at other places of worship, see the faith community section of the Plant NOVA Natives website. This web section is designed to help faith communities decide how to use native plants in their landscaping and how to educate themselves and the greater community about the importance of providing sanctuary on our own properties for our fellow beings. To see a few of those creatures in a church garden, watch this one minute video.

4-H exhibit judges needed, August 2nd

Frying Pan Farm Park
2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, VA
Friday, 2 August 2019
6 pm – finished

The 2019 Fairfax County 4-H Fair & Carnival is fast approaching. The organizers would like to invite you to participate as a judge for the static exhibits. Youth and adults from around Fairfax County will be bringing their exhibits to the Fair showcasing them in fourteen different exhibit departments:

Apiary Products
Science & Technology
Crafts & Woodworking
Floriculture
Visual Arts
Horticulture
Foods & Nutrition
Clothing & Textiles
Interior Design
Scrapbooks & Displays
Black & White Photography
Color Photography
Writing
Short Films

They provide dinner, judging instructions, a Fair T-shirt, and a HUGE Thank You!

For more information or to volunteer contact Kimberly.kruszewski@fairfaxcounty.gov