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Write articles for FCPA ResOURces newsletter (yes, for credit)

If you enjoy writing about the natural world, and want to educate and inspire visitors to Fairfax County parks, consider becoming a volunteer journalist. In this capacity, you’ll choose a recreation center or park site and learn as much as you can about it. When you’re ready and the deadlines are within reach, you will write articles for the ResOURces newsletter. (And earn service hours–good deal in the wintertime, especially). Code EO12

Interested? Contact Tammy Schwab

Health and Nature Connection Workshop and Conference

Department of Energy and Environment‘s Biophilia Initiative working groups are reconvening after six months of work! At the culminating meeting: The Nature Health Connection: Biophilic Practices for a Healthy, Livable DC members are invited to share their best ideas. Join Biophilic DC and others as we tune into their presentations and participate in a timely discussion for our city.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

Find out more and RSVP here. Free.

From Cyanobacteria Blooms to Clear Water: The Remarkable Story of the Tidal Potomac River Recovery

Talk by Dr. Christian Jones, Professor and Director, Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center, George Mason University. Part of George Mason University’s “Galileo’s Science Cafe” series of free science lectures open to the public.

25 October 2018
7:00-8:00 pm
Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Virginia

Learn more

Designing for Environmental Sustainability and Social Impact

This is an online, self-paced class from +Acumen, taught by MAVA Foundation. It begins 9 October and ends 20 November. The class is free.

Course Description

How do you solve a problem like deforestation? How might you restore a marine ecosystem, while recognizing that the community depends on fishing to survive? When your renewable energy product is no longer wanted, does it end up in a landfill?

The challenges of poverty and environmental conservation are interconnected. This course will introduce mindsets and methodologies to help you promote both environmental sustainability and social impact in your work.

You will discover the dynamics that contribute to complex environmental and social challenges using systems thinking. Then, you will learn about the circular economy and find opportunities to reuse resources and reduce waste. Next, you will explore how behavior change principles can encourage people to act in ways that benefit the planet. Finally, you will make the case for environmental conservation with lessons from the natural capital movement.

The course features insights from Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Vien Truong, CEO of Green for All; and Michael Kobori, Vice President of Sustainability for Levi Strauss & Co. It also shares case studies from social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations around the world.

What You’ll Learn

  • Explore opportunities for collaboration between social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations to promote environmental sustainability and social impact
  • Discover mindsets and methodologies for tackling environmental challenges, including systems thinking, circular design, behavior change, and natural capital
  • Understand how to design products and services that contribute to a circular economy, and how to change behavior to conserve biodiversity
  • Make the business case for investing in environmental conservation with lessons from the natural capital movement

This is a hands-on, project-based course for teams or individuals that consists of weekly readings, videos, and workshops. In the first week of the course, you will select an environmental challenge to explore. In each workshop, you will apply the concepts you learned in the reading to propose solutions to the environmental challenge.

More Questions

Please visit our +Acumen Page for more information.

Is This Course for You?

  • You are a social entrepreneur who wants to design solutions that create social impact and promote environmental sustainability.
  • You are a conservation specialist who wants to apply entrepreneurial methodologies to environmental challenges.
  • You are an innovator in a company or corporation who wants to make the business case for investing in conservation.

The Innovation Toolkit, ’cause you want to make stuff better, right?

A multi-disciplinary team of engineers from the MITRE corporation curated the MITRE Innovation Toolkit to help the community of innovative thinkers jumpstart the innovation process.

These tools help people understand how, when, and why to innovate, provide best practices and guidance, and jump-start the problem-solving process. They have organized the catalog of tools according to a team’s objective, team size, and style.

Do you ever have to? want to? facilitate problem solving sessions in your work or community of naturalists?

Try Rose-Bud-Thorn to conduct an analysis by visually categorizing positive (rose), potential (bud), or negative (thorn) aspects of a topic (e.g., system, product, process).

Try Lotus Blossom to focus the power of brainstorming using a structured, visual representation of ideas—pushing you to fill out every box with new ideas.

Try Trimming to visually document a someone’s experience through actions, pain points, wins, and opportunities in a process.

There are more tools on the site, and all of the materials are free to download.

Students in Community Science blog posts

These blog posts are part of Students in Community Science, a series of Thriving Earth Exchange articles featuring students who have had internship, educational or volunteer experiences in community science.

14 September 2018

Haley Gannon – Translating a Pivotal Internship Experience into a Satisfying Career

When I first came to the Thriving Earth Exchange, I was relatively new to the idea of community science. My experience up […]

13 September 2018

Shahan Haq – Adapting to Life after Adaptation Analytics: Reflection from an Intern

During an atmospheric chemistry course I took a few years ago, the professor would pause his lecture before major discoveries in the […]

11 September 2018

Babak J. Fard – Insights from an Interdisciplinary Community Science Experience

The Brookline, Mass. Thriving Earth Exchange project “Building Community Resilience to Extreme Heat” started in February 2016 with several initial meetings […]

10 September 2018

Angela DapremontHow Studying Mars is Relevant to Helping Earth’s Communities

angela.jpgI was fortunate to have a unique Thriving Earth Exchange internship experience during the summer and fall months of 2015. I started from scratch by familiarizing myself with the definition of community science, and ended up participating in the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Thriving Earth Exchange events. […]

Try your hand at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Discovery Day, 6 October

This one is an awesome twofer: attend to learn (as a high school or college student or as family member, friend, teacher, neighbor…) and get continuing ed credit (Smithsonian Conservation Discover Day). Attend as a volunteer, and get service hours (C-200).

If you want to attend as a learner

Conservation Discovery Day at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, includes hands-on activities, research demonstrations, and career panel discussions with conservation biologists, field ecologists, research scientists, veterinarians and animal keepers.

It’s the one day of the year this facility is open to the public, so don’t miss your chance to learn how you can join the conservation ranks and make a difference for wildlife and habitats worldwide!

Purchase a pass for these activities on Saturday, 6 October, 9:00 am-4:00 pm

If you’re willing to volunteer be part of the team delivering a fantastic visitor experience

Lend a hand to SCBI scientists, veterinarians, animal keepers, and researchers as they run their exhibits; or help facilitate hands-on themed games and activities; or  help engage visitors and raise awareness of SCBI’s vital conservation work. Your skills are quite welcome at Conservation Discovery Day. The day runs offers two shifts: 8:30 am-12:30 p.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m. You can sign up for one or both.

If you are interested in volunteering , please complete the on-line application, https://nationalzoo.vsyslive.com/pages/app:CDD2018 or if you have any questions, please contact Nick Davis, Volunteer Program Specialist, 540-635-0495 or davisnic@si.edu

 

Here are the activities of the day

Big Killers Come in Small Packages

Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is a leading cause of death in young Asian elephants. The EEHV Lab at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo runs EEHV diagnostics for U.S. zoos and helps develop EEHV testing labs in other countries.

  • Learn about molecular diagnostics of EEHV and check out some elephant poop, teeth and tails
  • Hear how EEHV affects elephant conservation efforts
  • “Diagnose” EEHV in your own elephant

Bird Banding

Experience one of the main methods that Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center scientists use to study birds: bird banding!

  • Learn first-hand how scientists attach bands and what information banding provides
  • Observe wild birds up close
  • Discover how humans influence ecosystems in ways that help and hurt bird populations

Caught on Camera: Wildlife Monitoring Booth

Discover how SCBI researchers use camera traps to monitor wildlife around the world and to address important conservation-related questions.

  • Learn about the exciting camera-trapping projects SCBI scientists are conducting around the world
  • Receive tips and hints for identifying species in camera trap images
  • Participate in eMammal photo identification through Zooniverse, an online resource where anyone can be a researcher

Cheetah Conservation

SCBI scientists study cheetahs living in managed collections in human care to better understand cheetah biology.

  • Find out how much scientists can learn from cheetah poop! They use it to study all types of biology, including reproductive hormones, pregnancy and gut health.
  • Cheetah matchmaking — discover what goes into creating the perfect cheetah breeding pair.

The Doctor Is In: Veterinarians and Conservation Health

Meet the veterinary staff who are committed to saving species at SCBI and beyond!

  • Learn how veterinarians at SCBI care for more than 20 different species.
  • Go behind the scenes at the vet hospital to see where and how SCBI veterinarians and vet technicians help animals.

Dynamite DNA: What Animals’ Genomes Tell Us

For more than 20 years, the Smithsonian’s Center for Conservation Genomics has helped elusive and endangered species like tigers, Asian and African elephants, San Joaquin kit foxes and maned wolves by studying their genomes.

  • Learn how an animal’s genomes can help scientists identify appropriate conservation methods, while providing data on an animal’s sex, mating patterns and relationships.
  • Get the chance to “perform” a DNA extraction and test.
  • Participate in interactive demos and discussions with scientists.

Please note: This is a timed tour with limited space. Registration at the information desk on the day of the event is required. Space is limited and is first come, first served.

Freezing for the Future: Smithsonian Frozen Collections

Scientists working with the Smithsonian’s cryo-collections have the COOLest job!

  • Find out what cryopreservation is and how it’s saving species.
  • Participate in games and interact with scientists to learn what and why these scientists freeze and how they reanimate living cells.

GIS Lab: Wildlife Tracking & Forest Mapping

SCBI researchers and scientists use geographic information systems (GIS) mapping to monitor animal movement and quantitatively map habitat using satellite technology.

  • Try your hand at a computer-based exercise of forest mapping using satellite images.
  • Borrow one of the lab’s GPS devices to go on a scavenger hunt in the field.

Global Canid Conservation

SCBI scientists and researchers use multidisciplinary approach ranging from reproductive technologies to field conservation to solve conservation issues of threatened and endangered canids around the world.

  • Discover the world of canids. How many are wild canids? Where are they? Why are maned wolves so unique?
  • Learn how to grow eggs in the lab and how an animal’s gut microbial community can impact overall health.
  • Explore SCBI’s tracking techniques for dholes in Thailand.

Kiwi Conservation

Brown kiwi, flightless nocturnal birds, are native to New Zealand and are endangered due to nonnative predators introduced by humans. In 1975, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo became the first organization to hatch a brown kiwi outside of New Zealand. SCBI has hatched six kiwi eggs since 2012.

  • See life-size models of kiwi adults and chicks, as well as a kiwi skeleton with an egg.
  • Watch videos of various kiwi research, kiwi in the wild and kiwi hatching.

Life in the Forest

Did you know that the Smithsonian leads a global forest monitoring network, is the leader in camera-trap monitoring wildlife and is part of the National Ecological Observatory Network? Learn how SCBI and NEON scientists measure trees, study animals and assess the health of forests and freshwater ecosystems in Virginia and around the world.

  • Visit SCBI’s forest plot to learn about forest research here and around the world.
  • See how wildlife cameras work.
  • Learn how NEON measures stream biodiversity.

Please Note: This is a timed tour with limited space. Registration at the information desk on the day of the event will be required. Space is limited and is first come, first served. This tour is only accessible by shuttle and involves walking through a forest with uneven terrain in thick vegetation. Closed-toed shoes are required for this tour; tennis shoes or hiking shoes are recommended.

One Health: Humans and Wildlife

The Global Health Program employs wildlife veterinarians, pathologists, biologists, researchers and technicians to address wildlife health concerns, investigate diseases that can infect both humans and animals, and conduct international training programs. GHP has projects around the world and is dedicated to global wildlife health and conservation.

  • Field Scientist #Selfie Booth: Dress as a field scientist and snap a selfie! Pose with an array of props, including headlamps, traps, protective equipment and gear, nets and (pretend) bat patients.
  • Tools of the Trade: See some of the equipment used by wildlife and research veterinarians, including field anesthesia, darting equipment, diagnostics and more. Meet real field veterinarians and learn about their international projects and what it takes to be a wildlife veterinarian.
  • Suit Up! PPE Race: When working with infectious organisms, it pays to keep yourself safe! See the gear that scientists in the field use to protect themselves from pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Race your friends to see who can suit up the quickest!
  • Pole-darting Practice: Discover how research veterinarians immobilize wild patients, and practice your aim!
  • What’s Your Diagnosis? Learn about some of the most pressing infectious diseases affecting wildlife species around the globe. Answer questions correctly to earn some prizes!

Remount History: Photos and Artifacts

How did Remount Road get its name? Where is the recognized birthplace of America’s K-9 Corps? Discover the inspirational and unique 100-year history of the land that is now home to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

  • Hear fascinating stories about this Front Royal property from the early 1900s through the Cold War.
  • View rare period photographs and historical artifacts.

Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation: Help Save the Planet!

The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation offers interdisciplinary programs in conservation biology for undergraduate and graduate students and professionals.

  • Learn how SMSC students play an active role in sustaining biodiversity and promoting conservation.
  • Learn about and participate in radio telemetry practice, insect specimen prep, native bee habitat construction and a GPS/orienteering scavenger hunt.

Please note: These are timed presentations with limited space. Registration at the information desk is required. Space is limited and is first come, first served. Each presentation lasts 30-45 minutes and university representatives will be answering questions between sessions.

Wildlife Endocrinology: Unlocking Animal Hormones

The Endocrinology Research Laboratory at SCBI is the oldest and largest wildlife endocrinology lab in the world.

  • Learn about endocrinology and how it can be a useful tool in wildlife conservation.
  • Discover how scientists study hormones of different species to help evaluate the health and breeding window of an animal.

Directions to SCBI

Credible climate action plans: How you can help make them a reality

Bill Hafker

Climate change, and the impacts that it can, is, and will likely have on almost every aspect of our lives, and the lives of all other living things, is the most all-encompassing environmental challenge humankind has faced.  As Master Naturalists we well know its implications for our natural world–the oceans, plants, animals, forests, water supplies, weather, etc.  As informed global citizens, we also know the economic and social implications climate change has for our infrastructure, coastal cities, agricultural output, fires, droughts, and even migrations of people.

As the world struggles to find the way and the will to identify and take the steps needed to try to keep temperature rise from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement, what can we as Master Naturalists do to help to increase the likelihood of success of efforts to address climate change?  With our knowledge of the severity of the issue, and the criticality of ensuring that efforts taken to address it are done in a rigorous, and sound scientific and economic manner, and are properly documented and shared with the public, we can help ensure that climate plans, regardless of who prepares them, are credible documents that are likely to achieve what they purport to do.

Whether we are part of helping develop a climate plan for an organization we belong to (e.g., a faith community or homeowners association), submitting comments solicited in the preparation of county or state energy, environmental, or climate plans, or responding to plans offered by others (e.g., companies, municipalities), we can provide input that helps ensure that the plan actually stands a chance of doing what it claims to.  Just this past July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the Fairfax County Operational Energy Strategy which is “intended to further the objectives of the Board’s Environmental Vision”.  Prior to that adoption, a draft of that Strategy was available for comment.  The State of Virginia is in the midst of taking input on the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (comment period closes 8/24) because “The Plan is intended to provide a strategic vision for the energy policy of the Commonwealth over the next 10 years”.

These are just two very significant opportunities for Master Naturalists to review and evaluate what is being proposed and offer comments in support of what they find good in the draft plans, and suggestions for how they should, or even in some cases must, be improved if they are to actually deliver climate risk reduction.

I recently presented a paper at the Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference:  “A Framework for Credible 2 Degree Celsius Climate Planning”.  For those interested in preparing a credible climate plan that will pass muster with those who would challenge its completeness, or who seek a yardstick against which to evaluate strong points and shortcomings of climate plans they wish to review and comment on, this paper offers  a checklist of 11 elements that are needed in a credible climate plan.  The 11 elements of the planning framework are described, and their relationship to each other is presented in a flow diagram, allowing users to compare plans they are helping to develop, or ones they are assessing, for completeness.  The flow diagram also shows how the elements interact with each other, and over time, to deliver results.  With 36 years as an environmental engineer with ExxonMobil, I used  the petroleum industry as the source of examples of how such planning can be effectively done; however, the framework presented is equally applicable to any climate planning activity.

Bill Hafker is a graduate of the Spring 2017 Fairfax Master Naturalist class.

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

Watch August VMN Continuing Ed webinar: Forest Health in Virginia, 16 August

Access for streaming the 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist videos is now available. Michelle Prysby will restore access to earlier videos, starting with 2017, later this month.

To watch any of the 2018 videos now and the earlier videos later in August, see VMN’s Continuing Education web page.

The August webinar will be on Forest Health in Virginia, with Virginia Department of Forestry’s Forest Health Manager, Lori Chamberlin.  It will take place Thursday, 16 August, at noon. 

For master naturalists, watching the VMN webinars counts toward continuing ed credits.

Join Dragonfly Workshop at Clifton Institute, 11 August

On Saturday, August 11, 1:00PM-4:00PM, join Dr. Steve Roble, zoologist with the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage, for a program on dragonfly and damselfly biology and identification. Dragonflies are some of the most mysterious and beautiful animals that live at the Clifton Institute. And northern Virginia is a hotspot of dragonfly diversity, with at least 65 species present.

Steve Roble is a leading expert on the dragonflies and damselflies of Virginia. He will present on the fascinating biology of these insects and then we will explore the field station in search of dragonflies. We will visit lakes, streams, and fish-free vernal pools, each of which host distinct dragonfly communities. So far we have observed 34 species of dragonflies and 14 damselflies at Clifton.

Clifton Institute has a project on iNaturalist to host your observations.

Come help us add to the list! To RSVP please email Bert Harris at bharris@cliftoninstitute.org.