Scott’s Run Nature Preserve Service Opportunities

7400 Georgetown Pike (use 7500 for GPS location)
Great Falls, VA

Cleanup Days

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is an ecologically and globally unique preserve and home to remarkable plants and wildlife. Join their Stewardship team and partake in their upcoming volunteer cleanups. Volunteers under 14 years old must volunteer with a parent/guardian. Limited spots per event

Sign up here

Natural Resource Projects

The park is in need of volunteer support to complete several resource management projects. All projects are outdoors and vary by season. Duties may include walking on hilly trails, lifting, planting, weeding/pulling invasives, using work tools, building/assembling, and labeling/reporting. Project details and meeting location will be sent prior to the work day. All volunteers must dress appropriately and follow park etiquette.

Sign up here

Communicating and Acting on Climate Change: A Success Story from Thriving Earth Exchange

Hallandale Beach, Florida operates a Green Initiatives Program within its Department of Public Works to provide sustainability-related information and programs to residents and employees. Most of the City’s Green Initiatives work focuses on Water and Energy Conservation and Recycling. A main impetus for the water conservation focus includes the loss of 6 out of 8 of the City’s freshwater wells to saltwater intrusion in the past decade. In 2018, the City adopted the Sustainability Action Plan which includes short-term and long-term projects to help the City increase its sustainability and resiliency between now and 2040.

Thriving Earth Exchange supported this program. Keep reading for details of how the team carried out its mission, their sensible reflections, and a link to a nifty table top climate change awareness game that you can download and reproduce for your own workshops or classes.

This is a wonderful success story.

Nature’s Notebook Mobile App Course

The Observer Certification Course provides instructions to help you get started using Nature’s Notebook, or provide a refresher if you need one! The organization just released the second module which provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the Nature’s Notebook mobile app. You will learn how to use the app to set up your account, create sites, add plants and animals, and enter and review observations. You will need to be logged into your Nature’s Notebook account to take the course.

Take the course 

Create an account if you do not have one

Are You Really Sure You Want to Water Your Plants From the Tap?

Author: Anna Gershenson

Some plants may benefit from chlorinated water, due to its ability to kill unwanted bugs or microbes in the soil. However, chlorine is actually toxic and harmful to plant growth in high concentrations. It injures the plants’ roots and accumulates in the leaf tissue, causing enduring damage.

So, how much chlorine is too much chlorine? And what can we do about it given that most people water their gardens and houseplants straight from the tap, and the tap water in Virginia contains small amounts of chlorine? I have a tip for you based on research that I performed in school.

As a freshman at Fairfax High School, I participated in the school’s Science Fair for my Honors Biology class. For our project, my partner and I designed a project to test the effect of chlorine on Wisconsin Fast Plants, a type of Brassica rapa plant, developed by the University of Wisconsin as a research tool.

We grew four groups of the Wisconsin Fast Plants, from the seeds, and fed each group natural spring water with different amounts of chlorine mixed in. The first group received the water without chlorine (this was known as the control group). We watered the second group with a mixture of water and one teaspoon of chlorine, the third with 2 teaspoons of chlorine mixed with water, and the fourth with 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) and water. My partner and I used powdered chlorine, so before we gave each plant the mixture, we let the chlorine fully dissolve in the water. We watered the plants every two days and measured their heights during those days. We studied the plants for two weeks.

The results were significant. The images below represent the four plant groups at the end of the two weeks. 

As you can see, the group that did not receive the chlorinated water grew the most and looked very healthy. The average final height for the plants in that group was about 5.10 centimeters. 

The plants that received 1 teaspoon of chlorine grew a little bit, but looked unhealthy. The plants looked more brown than did the healthy plant. Their final average height was 1.50 centimeters. 

A small plant sprouted in the pot that got 2 teaspoons of chlorine,, but it did not grow as much as did the previous two. That group’s final height was about 1.00 centimeter. 

And finally, the plants that received 3 teaspoons of chlorine barely grew. Though it is difficult to see the plant, the calculated height of that group was about 0.50 centimeters.

It was clear that even 1 teaspoon of chlorine stunts the growth of plants and makes them lose pigment.

Now, you might be wondering: “What can we do to solve this problem? Buying natural spring water costs extra.”

Don’t worry, I have the perfect solution for you!

My mom actually familiarized me with this technique. She enjoys working in our garden and knows all sorts of tricks. When I decided to grow a vine plant in my room, my mom suggested that rather than watering them with tap water fresh out of the faucet, to begin by pouring the tap water into a plastic cup and letting it sit a couple of hours before watering the plant. Letting the water wait enables all of the chlorine to evaporate, clearing it and making it healthy and safe for the plants.

I did the controlled research to validate her advice. You don’t have to subject your plants to extra chlorine, but you can see if letting the chlorine evaporate helps your house plants and garden do better. Enjoy watering your plants chlorine-free!

Anna Gershenson is a rising senior at Fairfax High School.

This post is part of the series Creative Counsel from Students in the Time of COVID-19. Do you know students with research to report on the natural world? Encourage them to direct their proposals to vmnfairfax@gmail.org after reading the instructions in the link above.

Creative Counsel from Students in the Time of COVID-19

Naturalists are at home this summer, and so are many of our teens and grand-teens who may have lost their planned summer activities. The FMN chapter invites them to share their practical and scientific wisdom with our readers. Options include:

  • Writing up or posting a video about the results of science fair projects that touch on the natural world, as Curated Resources.
  • Documenting their experiences with iNaturalist or eBird or another app, either in writing or as a video
  • Reviewing a film or show of interest to naturalists. Yup, in writing or as a video.
  • Producing a short series of related posts or videos

Whatever they choose to do will add their perspectives and learnings to our public presence, and we’ll have the honor of offering engaged, enterprising students a platform to speak with the world. 

Please direct the students in your life to vmnfairfax@gmail.com, and we’ll work together for the good of all parties. All contributors under the age of 18 must have the express written permission of their parents or guardians to post to our site.

See also: Are You Really Sure You Want to Water Your Plants From the Tap?, by Anna Gershenson, Fairfax High School

At-Home Citizen Science Projects

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Virginia may be in Phase 2 of re-opening but many volunteers will continue to stay home, especially those in high risk groups. For those who are looking for home-based opportunities, Virginia Master Naturalists has compiled a list of ideas for citizen science projects.

• CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network) https://www.cocorahs.org
• Nature’s Notebook https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook
• Project Budburst http://budburst.org
• Digitizing Virginia’s Herbaria project within Notes from Nature –  https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/md68135/notes-from-nature-southeastern-us-biodiversity  
• Project FeederWatch (season is mid-November through early April) https://feederwatch.org
• Great Backyard Bird Count (mid-February only) https://gbbc.birdcount.org
• NestWatch https://nestwatch.org 
• Hummingbirds at Home (Audubon) – https://www.audubon.org/content/hummingbirds-home
• Monarch Larva Monitoring Project https://monarchjointventure.org/mlmp 
• Firefly Watch https://www.massaudubon.org/get-involved/citizen-science/firefly-watch 
• Bumblebee Watch – https://www.bumblebeewatch.org
• Migratory Dragonfly Partnership http://www.migratorydragonflypartnership.org/index/welcome 
• Lost Ladybug http://www.lostladybug.org 
• FrogWatch http://www.frogwatch.org/ 
• Virginia WildlifeMapping https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/virginia-wildlife-mapping
• City Nature Challenge (limited to participating locations and specific dates) https://citynaturechallenge.org
• World Bee Count – https://beescount.org

Master naturalists, please check with the FMN service catalog or our service chair if you have any questions.

National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation

The National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) is launching a new training opportunity: The NNOCCI Crash Course!

This is a 6-week, 25-hour, fee-based online course for those interested in gaining strategic framing skills. 

NNOCCI is a partnership between climate scientists and informal science educators who have public trust and large audiences, and who are dedicated to using our platforms to have productive conversations about climate action.

We operate as a supportive community of practice using and teaching evidence-based tools to inspire hope and action. Together, we can change the national conversation around climate change to be more positive, productive and solutions-focused.

In the Crash Course, participants will learn basic framing elements including why framing matters, values, metaphors, and solutions. These framing techniques are all based on rigorous social science and have been extensively tested across the United States. Participants will create a final project to demonstrate their framing skills and practice critiquing communications with the framing skill rubric. This course is ideal for those who have an interest in learning more about strategic framing to incorporate these techniques into their personal or professional communications. For more information on NNOCCI Training Offerings, visit www.climateinterpreter.org/training.

Benefits of the NNOCCI Crash Course 

1.    Gain skills to engage others on climate change. Training includes a series of online video modules, facilitated webinars, and practice assignments to provide a comprehensive introduction to strategic framing, an overview of NNOCCI tools and messaging, and access to experienced trainers to support you in crafting impactful climate messages.

2.    Accessible from anywhere. This online, 6-week, 25-hour module provides a comprehensive overview of strategic framing tools from the comfort of your home/office.

3.    Network with like-minded individuals across the country. Expand your professional network and explore the challenges, opportunities, and best practices of climate communication within a supportive community of practice.

4.    Join the NNOCCI Network. NNOCCI has built and fostered a community of practice to help scientists and science educators share best practices and challenges of communicating climate research. NNOCCI’s reach is broad, with a network of more than 440 individual members from 184 informal science learning centers across 38 states.

Course Offerings:

  • Summer Course taking place the weeks of July 12th through August 16th, 2020
  • Fall Course taking place the weeks of October 11th through November 15th, 2020

Course Sizes: Courses will range in size from 20 to 40 participants. For courses with 30+ participants, the cohorts may be divided into smaller groups.

Additional Program Details: The cost of the course is $249/person with additional discounts for attendees joining in groups of 5 (5%), 10 (10%) and 20 (20%) people.

How to Apply: Applications are live. Please reach out to NNOCCI@neaq.org with questions in the meantime.

More info and FAQs: https://climateinterpreter.org/content/nnoccis-new-online-crash-course

Registration: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeS8r2pIoO0igoey_T6awUer6xuARSv24mQd3gXRmSSBpgavw/viewform

Social Justice–Centered Science Teaching and Learning

Reposted from Philip Bell and Deb Morrison, at the University of Washington, Seattle, via the National Science Teachers Association:

Some cultures have historically been privileged in particular times and places, and as a result, some ways of knowing and doing science have had more social standing. We work from the stance that scientific ways of knowing and science education are fundamentally cultural and inherently political. All students have a right and a responsibility to learn how science has been implicated in creating many social inequities over time and how diverse scientific knowledges and practices can promote justice.

For example, the ice floe knowledge of Arctic Indigenous peoples was not initially brought into the larger scientific conversation on global climate science until sustained relationship building and deep listening between Indigenous and Euro-Western-trained scientists occurred. This knowledge held within Indigenous communities allowed for refinement of global climate modeling. Tribes and Indigenous peoples are engaged in hundreds of such efforts to understand and respond to climate change (see Chapter 15, Fourth National Climate Assessment for details).

Teachers can foster such cultural bridging in ways that help students recognize their agency to engage in social justice projects in ways informed by the sciences. Specifically, justice-oriented science educators should engage in culturally-based pedagogies that identify and leverage the knowledge and practice resources of students and their communities.

Read more for principles and resources

A Chance for Some Fun!

Do you work in the Natural Resources field? Do you think you know a lot of about Natural Resources? Do you want a chance to test your knowledge? 

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 Virginia Dominion Energy Envirothon competition was cancelled and pivoted to an online testing week where 9th-12th graders from all of Virginia tested their knowledge in Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife and Water Resource Management.

But seeing the interest, the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation wanted to offer a chance for adults to test their knowledge in Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and Water Resource Management.

WHAT: The Natural Resources (Adult) Test Week will be 5 tests. Each test will have a 25-minute time limit.

Test Areas include:

  • Aquatics
  • Forestry
  • Soils
  • Wildlife
  • Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions

You can sign up to take one or all of the tests.

HOW: To sign up to take the tests, visit this link to register.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7H6T585

If you register, you agree to not look up answers.

WHAT THEN? You will receive links to the test(s) on Monday, June 22, and must complete the test(s) by midnight on Sunday, June 28. Top scoring participants will be recognized by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) Facebook page.

Please share this email with anyone you know who would be interested in testing their natural resources knowledge.

QUESTIONS: Please email Bonnie Mahl: Bonnie.Mahl@vaswcd.org

Website www.vaswcd.org

DEQ Environmental Justice Webinar, June 17

Wednesday, June 17, 6-8 p.m

The DEQ webinar will share perspectives on Environmental Justice and will be held in both English and Spanish. This will be followed with a survey to gather additional community perspectives.

DEQ is currently doing an environmental justice study and will be holding a webinar (in both English and Spanish) to share feedback and perspectives from statewide interviews that Skeo Solutions has conducted thus far. Informed by best practices of other state and federal regulatory agencies, the Skeo team has conducted more than 70 interviews with a wide cross-section of stakeholders across Virginia, including representatives from EJ communities and organizations, environmental organizations, regulated agriculture and industry, local government, state environmental boards and DEQ staff. The interviews focused on understanding different experiences with EJ and DEQ’s programs, as well as perspectives on potential challenges and opportunities to advance EJ within DEQ programs.

Following the webinars, a public survey will be available to gather additional community perspectives.

Please share this information with anyone who would be interested in joining the webinar, or in these materials afterwards. See DEQ’s news release below for more details. You will need to register for the webinar to receive a link. 

The webinar will also be recorded and posted to the DEQ website below, along with the survey link and the slide presentation for anyone wishing to provide additional feedback on how DEQ can effectively support and advance environmental justice through their programs. www.DEQ.Virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalJustice.aspx

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Questions? Greg Bilyeu, Director of Communications

1111 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 698-4107

 gregory.bilyeu@deq.virginia.gov