Mt. Vernon District Environment Expo: 10 November

Saturday, 10 November 2018
8 a.m. – noon
Walt Whitman Middle School
2500 Parkers Ln, Alexandria, VA 22306

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck will host his first Environment Expo where we will explore how everyone can help save our planet, with the theme “Saving the Earth One Person at a Time”. The morning will feature an Exhibit Hall with a variety of County agencies, service providers and educators, informational and hands-on workshops and screenings of the film “Hometown Habitat”.
Join us for the morning to LEARN, ENGAGE and ACT to save our environment!

Improve wildlife habitat with Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) sponsors volunteer events that take place on properties that they own or on properties that have conservation easements on them throughout Northern VA. Volunteers help remove  invasive species, plant trees, and clean up trash.

The goal is to improve the wildlife habitat on these properties, and improve the water quality within the watersheds where many of these properties are located. Through these projects, NVCT hopes to educate and motivate Northern Virginians to plant native species, protect wildlife habitat, identify and remove invasive species, and simply enjoy nature.

Events are usually scheduled on the weekends. See calendar and Meet-up site, and FMN service project calendar. Most events last for two hours and take place between September and May.

No training or experience is required before participating in one of our events. The staff person on-hand will provide any training before the event starts. Volunteers should dress appropriately (long pants, long sleeves, hats, sturdy shoes), gloves/hand tools (if they have them), water, and snack. NVCT will bring any necessary equipment and supplies.

Edible Insects and Human Evolution, at Museum of Natural History

FREE ticketed event

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 
6:45 PM – 8:30 PM 
Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20013-7012

In her new book, Edible Insects and Human Evolution, author Julie Lesnik traces evidence that humans have been consuming insects throughout the course of human evolution, and provides a compelling case for why we should bring them back into our staple diets.

Lesnik points out that insects are highly nutritious and a very sustainable protein alternative. She believes that if we accept that edible insects are a part of the human legacy, we may have new conversations about what is good to eat—both in past diets and for the future of food.

Join the Museum of Natural History for a talk by Lesnik, and later, see edible insects from the entomology collection, and chat with scientists Briana Pobiner, a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet, and Seán Brady, an expert in bees and wasps and Chair of the Department of Entomology.

Edible Insects and Human Evolution will be available for purchase and signing at the program.

About the Author

Julie Lesnik is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She studies the evolution of human diet with a specific interest in how humans have gathered, farmed, and cooked insects for food. She received a PhD in anthropology and a MS in kinesiology from the University of Michigan in 2011.

Hidden Oaks thanks Fairfax Master Naturalist chapter

On 29 September 2018, Visitor Services Manager Suzanne Holland thanked Fairfax Master Naturalists for their many contributions to the Park Authority and Hidden Oaks.  The 10th anniversary celebration of FMN stewardship highlighted the chapter’s work on behalf of the limited impact development parking lot, the native gardens, and Nature Playce, the children’s playground. More than 125 visitors attended the festivities.

Our stories matter, and so does the way we tell them

Marilyn Kupetz                                                                        

Photo: Barbara J. Saffir (c)

The most wonderful storytellers of the natural world mesmerize us with their skill and learning, their warmth, their ability to connect with us even as they are asking for our help and time. Alonso Abugattas is one of the masters in northern Virginia, as are Charles Smith, Tammy Schwab, and Doreen Peters.

For naturalists who teach, who speak publicly, who are required to show up with enduring material, charisma and tactile props may not suffice, alas. Yet the requirement to stand in front of a screen at the front of a room doesn’t mean that presentation-based storytelling has to be tedious. Effective storytelling and well-designed materials can easily complement one another.

Indeed, slides can be as beautiful as the world we want to preserve, and potent enough to stand a chance of depositing a message that actually takes root. Are you ready for some free, legal resources to confect those lovely materials?

Garr Reynolds, the generous presence behind Presentation Zen, seeds his online resources with almost every bit of counsel you’d ever need to speak at a VMN Conference or teach an FMN class. His ten tips could make the difference between having a room full of people on the fence or energized evangelists who pick up your cause and contribute to its success. 

Even when you know what you want to say, however, you have to decide what to show. The kind of photos that Reynolds uses for his own work are everywhere online, but usually they aren’t simply ours for the taking. Their photographers own the distribution rights. Copyright law does allow for limited classroom use, but what if your presentation is going to be videotaped and shared widely? You need to be careful about what you borrow and how you attribute credit. 

If you can’t take your own photos and get permission from the people in them, consider taking advantage of sites that supply free, legal photographs to the public. You should definitely build credit into your metadata and references, but otherwise you will break no laws, you will give aspiring photographers the street cred they need to keep working on our behalf, and your presentations will be the better for it. 

Here are a few places to start:

If there’s interest, we can talk more, online and off. In the interim, here are more imagery resources if you are ready to grow your skills as a storyteller in the service of the causes you care about. 

Thank you to Barbara J. Saffir and Ana Ka’ahanui for sharing their photos with Fairfax Master Naturalists.

Help plant natives this Sunday, October 7th

Mount Vernon Government Center

2511 Parkers Lane, Alexandria, VA

Sunday. 7 October 2018

4-6 pm

Join in a fall planting event in the newly established gardens at the Mount Vernon Government Center!  The group will be installing native plants in the front planting beds that were established this past spring.

They will also continue with some weeding of the planting beds as time allows.

Bring your favorite garden tool(s), gloves, snack and a bottle of water.
Since you will be working in the gardens please dress appropriately for this type of work including a hat, sunscreen, long sleeve shirt and long pants, and good shoes for working outdoors.

For questions and to register, contact Cathy Ledec.

Fairfax County Parks Watershed Clean Up Day, October 13th

Saturday, 13 October 2018
Multiple locations
Do your part to clean up our parks and local waterways by registering to participate in a Watershed Clean Up Day event. Volunteers are needed from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Cub Run RECenter, Hidden Pond Nature Center, Huntley Meadows Park, Lake Accotink Park, Lincolnia Park, Riverbend Park and Scotts Run. For details and to sign up, call the site or visit the website. This a great activity for community and scout groups to earn service hours. For information about clean-ups at non-staffed sites, contact Julie Tahan at 703-324-8740.

What’s in these streams? Come find out!

Ever wonder what’s living in our local streams? Join a stream monitoring team and help gauge local water quality by surveying aquatic organisms living on the stream bottom. Led by certified stream monitors, the teams welcome interested observers and offer an opportunity to explore Northern Virginia’s lovely creeks.

NVSWCD Sugarland Run Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, 6 October 2018, 10 am-12:30pm
Where: Sugarland Run Stream Valley Park, Herndon

Registration is required and limited. Register by email to Ashley Palmer at, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Education Specialist.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 7 October 2018, 10:30am-12:30pm
Where: Goose Creek

Limit 7. Registration required. The exact location will be sent to registered participants closer to the date. The rain date for this event is October 14. Contact for registration and questions.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 14 October 2018, 9-11am
Where: Waterford

Limit 7. Registration required. The exact location will be sent to registered participants closer to the date. The rain date for this event is October 21. Contact for registration and questions.

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, 20 October 2018, 1-4pm
Where: Reston
Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s stream. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends. Learn more and register.
Holmes Run Stream Monitoring Session
When: Sunday, 21 October 2018, 9am-12pm
Where: Falls Church
Join a volunteer certified stream monitor as she assesses ecological conditions in streams, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Registration is required and limited. Register by email to Valerie Bertha.
Hidden Pond Stream Monitoring Session
When: Saturday, November 3, 9:00am-12:00pm
Where: Springfield
Join a volunteer certified stream monitor as she assesses ecological conditions in streams, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Registration is required and limited to 5 registrants. Register by email to Susan Demsko.

It’s time well-spent when Virginia Master Naturalists convene in conference

Mike Bishop 

The 2018 Virginia Master Naturalists State conference is over, but attendees left with a lot of useful information, new friends, and fond memories. This year’s conference was held in Fredericksburg, 7-9 September. Although I also attended the 2017 conference in Front Royal, this year I participated not only as a student, but as an instructor. 

Mike Bishop (left) discussing purple martins with Chris Ludwig

The organizing committee asked if I would be interested in teaching classes about the Purple Martin and the Northern Virginia Purple Martin Initiative that I founded several years ago. I immediately said I would, seizing a great opportunity to be able to spread the word about this conservation effort.

The conference started for me on Friday with a thrilling and educational 3-hour kayak trip down the historic Rappahannock River, with 25 other naturalists. Sights along the way were Bald Eagles, Osprey and Great Blue Herons, to name just a few. Our guides had extensive knowledge of an adjoining canal system that I didn’t even know existed. We pulled ashore at several places to explore them. This was just one of many field trips led by local experts on the area. I spent the rest of the conference teaching or attending classes by leaders in their fields of study. One class I particularly enjoyed covered current research and findings about bird migration patterns and habits.

The conference center was top notch; classrooms were excellent for teaching and the meals were delicious. The Rappahannock chapter did everything right to make this a most enjoyable and comfortable event. There were even three tables of superb, nature-related door prizes. Everybody walked away with something.

After attending the state conferences for the past years, I plan on going to as many future ones as possible. As important as the classes you learn from is networking with others from around the state—finding out what makes their chapters so fun and effective. 

In September 2019, the conference will be held in Harrisonburg. The close proximity again makes it convenient for the members of our chapter. Considering the area, the field trips should be visiting some spectacular natural areas of the Shenandoah Valley. 

Unfortunately, representation from our chapter has been low at the past two conferences. Let’s see if we can change that next year. Believe me, it’s time well spent and I hope to see you there! 

Volunteer at the Virginia State Fair

Volunteers are needed to help with the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) and Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), or Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) exhibit booths at the Virginia State Fair, which runs from Sept 28th-Oct. 7th at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.


  • Interactive Watershed Address/Soil Water Conservation District Map
  • Mini Mock Dominion Envirothon Program
  • Virginia Conservation Assistance Program Educational Outreach Tools
  • Interactive stream table
  • Prescribed fire information
  • Kids activities

All workers will receive a free fair entrance ticket. There are two time slots for each day 9:45-2:00pm & 1:45-6:00pm, with the goal of having 4 people for each time slot.

To sign up for VASWCD/VDOF booth, please visit the Signup Genius please choose the VASWCD Booth or additional volunteer slot as where you are signing up.

To sign up for the DEQ booth, go to  and then email your preferred mailing address to so she can mail you your entrance tickets.