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Mount Vernon Environmental Expo: How you can act on climate change, Nov 16

Supervisor Dan Storck invites you to participate in the 2nd Annual Mount Vernon District Environment Expo: How YOU Can Act on Climate Change on Saturday, November 16, 2019, from 8 a.m. – noon at Walt Whitman Middle School. This event will educate and inform local residents on environmental challenges that we face on a daily basis, including ones that are unique to Fairfax County given our proximity to water, transportation challenges and recent intense storms. Attendees will leave the Expo with simple actions you can take to make an impact on climate change. Please share information about this event with your family, friends and neighbors!

Join them for the morning to LEARN, ENGAGE and ACT to save our environment!

Expo Schedule

8 – 11:15 a.m. – Exhibit Hall Open

8 – noon – Electric & Hybrid Car Showcase

9 – 9:30 a.m. – Opening Remarks

9:30 – noon – Film Screening

9:30 – 10:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

11 – 11:45 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

11:45 – noon – Closing Remarks

Workshop Topics

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, presented by Beck Modini, Pachamama Alliance

Can we reverse global warming and stop climate change?  What would it take?  What can you do to help?  Come to this introduction to the work of Project Drawdown, which gathered data on 100 actions that lower carbon emissions or take carbon out of the air, and then did the math. The result is a science-based global plan to actually reverse global warming by 2050. Come away with a new framework for thinking about climate change and access to tools for action.

Small Choices, Big Impact, presented by Zach Huntington, Clean Fairfax

Simple steps we can all take to minimize our impact on the planet from the importance of eating local, to the products we purchase, and how we won’t be able to recycle our way out of our worldwide litter problem. We’ll also discuss how the daily decisions we make can either mitigate the impacts of or contribute to climate change and what strategies are the most effective in addressing systemic climate challenges.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Through Energy Efficiency, presented by Elenor Hodges, EcoAction Arlington

Learn about reducing your carbon footprint whether you live in a single-family house, townhouse, condo or apartment. The presentation will focus on energy and water efficiency in the home, detailing techniques to reduce energy and water use through sealing air leaks, installing energy-efficient lighting, and switching to low-flow water devices in the kitchen and bathroom. We will also discuss the energy use of a variety of household appliances and learn how to measure how much energy each one uses with a kilowatt meter.

Flooding, Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise—Tools for Living with the Water, presented by Molly Mitchell, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

This workshop will take look at the changing flood threats from sea level rise, changing precipitation, and increased development.  We will discuss the tools available to help project storm surge flooding and future sea level rise impacts and discuss how these tools can be used in decision making.

“The 4 R’s” Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, presented by Eric Forbes, Fairfax County Solid Waste Management

“The 4R’s” will cover what we all can do to help reduce our waste footprint as well as the services the Solid Waste Management Program provides for Fairfax County residents.

The Right Tree in the Right Place, presented by Jim McGlone, Fairfax County Urban Forestry

Trees have an important role in reducing the impacts of climate change. Attend this workshop to learn about the native trees that thrive in our region and where best to plant these.

Adding Habitat Value in our Gardens:  Mow less, Grow more!, presented by Joanne Hutton and Tami Scheiffer, Plant NOVA Natives 

Avenues to Better Air Quality, presented by Tom Reynolds, Fairfax County Department of Transportation

Traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions combine to be a major contributor to greenhouse gases in the region. Fairfax County is progressing down several ‘avenues’ to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Learn how individuals can play a part in the County’s efforts to reduce emissions, shift the mode share away from single occupancy vehicles, take advantage of a growing pedestrian/bicycle environment and see how transit is being considered in new developments.

Download and share the flyer

Come to orientation for new volunteers at Riverbend and Scott’s Run, Nov 2

Photo: Ana Ka’Ahanui

Saturday, November 2
9:30 AM -12.30 PM
8814 Jeffery Road, Great Falls, VA 22066

Want to become a volunteer at Riverbend Park or Scott’s Run? Attend the Fall Volunteer Orientation to learn about  opportunities, projects, and events. Positions for Animal Care Volunteers and Program Volunteers are currently open! If you want to get involved in park restoration/other projects, you are more than welcome to join us!

This session will run in two parts:

  1. Orientation for ALL new volunteers (9:30-10:30 AM)
  2. Orientation for specialties such as Animal Care, School Program Leads, and other projects.

 

Animal Care

Volunteer Claire Phan feeding a box turtle a fresh earth worm!

If you love animals this is the opportunity for you! Learn about local wildlife & become a caretaker to our rescued reptiles & amphibians.

Apply by 10/31 to valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov 

Click here to register for Animal Care orientation and training.

 

 

School Program Leads

Volunteer Tom Blackburn showing students a soil sample

Love nature, science, and history? Become a program leader at Riverbend and help educate elementary students about Native American history, soils, wildlife, watershed science, biology & more!

Apply by 10/31 to valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov 

Click here to register for becoming a School Program Lead Volunteer.

 

 

 

Resource Naturalists: Fall Planting Projects (14+ or w/ adult)

Chris Lansing educating volunteers on Mile a Minute clean up

Want to get involved in resource management, restoration, and conservation? Become a Resource Naturalist! We have a few planting projects to complete before winter.

Click here to register.

Email valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov with questions and to RSVP fo orientation on Nov 2

 

 

Scott’s Run Cleanup Group! (14+ or w/ adult)

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Join the SRNP Cleanup Group! Open for students, families, and anyone interested in keeping the park and Potomac river free from litter.

Click here to sign up for fall cleanup days

Want to schedule your own group cleanup? Email Valeria Espinosa!

 

 

Scout Programs Assistant Volunteer! (18+)

Interested in supporting our girl scout and boy scout programs? Join our interpretive team and learn about outdoor/nature education! 

Click here to sign up

 

 

Final Birding Walks!

Friday 10/4 and 10/18 from 8-10 AM @Nature Center

Don’t miss the final birding walks with Kris Lansing and Robin Duska. To sign up email Valeria Espinosa or call 703-759-9018

 

Volunteer for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Conservation Discovery Day, Oct 5

Be part of the most sci-taclaur and exclusive event at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal Va., the Conservation Discovery Day.

We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help with our event. If you enjoy meeting new people while promoting the interests of wildlife, try volunteering. It is rewarding, fun, and something different to do!

Besides having a packed series of special lectures, there will be hands-on activities, science demonstrations, tours of the vet hospital, discussions with animal keepers and conservation ecologists.

So this is where you come in. Special event volunteers play a pivotal role in making the event run smoothly, and our guests have an enjoyable experience. If it weren’t for the help, we receive from community volunteers like you; we could not offer such a fantastic event. Would you like to be part of our team delivering a tremendous visitor experience by lending a hand to our scientists, veterinarians, animal keepers, and researchers run their exhibits, facilitate hands-on themed games and activities, and help engage visitors by providing exceptional customer service and raise awareness of our vital conservation work? We’d love you to bring your skills to the Conservation Discovery Day.

This year’s event is on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with two shifts: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. you may sign up for one or both shifts. Lunch will be provided. *A vegetarian option will be available, but we will not be able to accommodate other dietary restrictions

 

If you are interested in making a difference in one day, consider volunteering at this year’s Conservation Discovery Day.

For more information: SCBIeducation@si.edu

Let’s talk turtles

Jerry Nissley

Although I developed “Turtle Talk” as my final project for the Spring 2019 FMN training class, I have been presenting talks with live turtles to elementary students for 6 years at Engleside Christian School, in Alexandria; Evangel Christian School, in Dale City; and Calvary Road School, in Alexandria. I believe that it is important to work with children so that they appreciate and care about the environment as they are growing up and when they become adults. Immediate and follow-on feedback on the presentations has been positive in this respect. Several students have reported, through their teacher to me, that their interest in nature increased as a result, and they began visiting parks and nature centers. 

Logan Switzer helped staff the Turtle Talk station at the 2019 Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day event

Our FMN class assignment to develop an interpretive talk gave me the perfect opportunity to develop a more polished presentation. I gave the new talk twice this spring, first at Eleanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, at their Earth Day event, as a “Turtle Talk” station. I also spoke at Calvary Road Christian school to about 30 students in their 3rd- and 5th-grade classes for 2 hours.

For my presentation. I built a portable display board that showcases:

  • Woodland turtle fun-facts (e.g., Turtles are omnivores, live 90+ years, have a completely enclosed shell, endure a brumation period of 6 months in Virginia)
  • A description of their habitat and their conservation status to help visitors understand how vulnerable box turtles are
  • Photos of two of the male and female turtles that I care for
  • Additional technical and pictorial resources for tailoring the presentation to different audiences

Box turtles

My presentation features three live box turtles that I rescued in the Northern Virginia area as road saves. The turtles live in a year-round outdoor enclosure at my house. I feed them a variety of food: worms, slugs, grubs, cherries, berries, and mushrooms, with a vitamin supplement called Rep-Cal. With the teacher’s permission, the children are allowed supervised handling and feeding during a class presentation. Box turtles are currently listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature species list due in large part to loss of habitat, roads, and slow breeding cycles. My goal is to create awareness of the importance of box turtles and their plight to encourage protection efforts.

Turtle Talk display

Additionally, I’ve designed and printed a tri-fold brochure to hand out as a public take-away. I also compiled various reference materials that I use to tailor a talk for a particular audience. For example, I displayed environmental information and talked about how we can help box turtles in our neighborhoods at the Earth Day event, but I would emphasize fun-facts at an elementary school demonstration. 

During the 2-hour Earth Day event at Ellanor C. Lawrence park, 38 people visited the Turtle Talk station, many of whom took brochures. Linda Fuller, an FMN colleague, organized the event.

The school presentations come under E254: Nature Presentations to Private Schools. I offered a “Turtle Talk” station in  at Huntley Meadows Wetland Appreciation Day on 5 May 2019, under the auspices of the FMN Service Project, E110: FCPA Nature Programs. Under E110, Volunteers plan, set up, lead, or assist with FCPA nature programs. Under both E254 and E110, volunteers may give interpretative talks on local wildlife and plants, lead trail walks, assist with live animal demonstrations, lead educational lessons in schools or with scouts, or assist with outreach activities. Our job as volunteers is to interact with participants, awakening their curiosity and helping them develop connections to nature and the outdoors. 

If any other FMN members are interested in creating live-animal presentations or general school presentations, I would be happy to consult, share what I’ve learned, and discuss the contacts I’ve developed. Working with children is meaningful and, I hope, it may lead to a new generation of committed naturalists and environmentally savvy adults.

Green Breakfast, May 11th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Brion’s Grille
10621 Braddock Rd., Fairfax VA
Saturday, 11 May 2019
8:30 am

Thinking about the “wild” spaces in and around a busy metropolitan area can be difficult, but we are fortunate to have several wildlife refuges at our fingertips. How did these areas become protected and what’s next for the system? Patuxent Wildlife Refuge Manager Brad Knudsen will present “The Evolution of the National Wildlife Refuge System.” He will present information on the important wildlife resources the NWRS conserves, how the NWRS as grown in its 116 years, how legislation and public involvement have impacted the direction the NWRS has gone, and a glimpse at what the future holds.

Breakfast begins at 8:30am, $10 at the door, cash preferred. No prior registration required. Breakfast includes an all-you-can eat hot buffet with fresh fruit and coffee, tea, orange juice or water. If you have any questions, please contact the Northern Virginia Soil and Water at conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Join Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, Saturday, April 13

The Alice Ferguson Foundation is sponsoring the Potomac Watershed Cleanup on Saturday, April 13.

Join the 31st Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. The official date is Saturday, April 13, however, there will be cleanups throughout the entire month of April.

The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is the largest regional event of its kind, and the Cleanup aims to engage citizens and community leaders and to generates momentum for change.

The Friends of Accotink Creek website has information about Accotink Creek watershed cleanups on weekends, April 5 through May 11.

This project is eligible for FMN service credit.

Review of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannen

Reviewed by Tami Sheiffer

Studying mass extinction events from tens or hundreds of millions of years ago shows us that life on Earth is both precarious and resilient. In The Ends of the World, science writer Peter Brannen vividly describes the five past mass extinction events: End-Ordovician, Late Devonian, End-Permian, End-Triassic, and End-Cretaceous, and the lessons we can learn from them. This book offers something of interest to anyone interested in natural history, paleontology, geology, climatology, ecology, or evolution.

Brannen paints vivid pictures of life and destruction eons ago, interwoven with his personal tales of travel around the country talking with scientists and visiting paleontological sites. You can preview Brannen’s writing in one of his science articles, like this one titled “A Climate Catastrophe Paved the Way for the Dinosaurs’ Reign,” published in The Atlantic. Occasionally, Brannen’s storytelling risks anthropomorphism, as when he describes the first fish to walk on land in the Devonian as “bold explorers” and “brave pioneers.” However, Brannen’s engaging writing makes this book enjoyable reading for a broad audience.

By studying the causes of past mass extinctions, we find that most were caused by climate change. The Earth’s climate has changed naturally in the past, but drastic changes were violent and caused massive destruction. Life is ultimately resilient, and, eventually, surviving species evolved to repopulate a new Earth, but life after the extinction looked very different from life before. In the most deadly mass extinction, the End-Permian event, nearly all life was wiped out. This extinction event was caused in part by volcanic activity in the Siberian Traps burning underground coal basins and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Our present day fossil fuel activity has a similar effect of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but at an even faster rate than in the end-Permian extinction. The overarching theme of the book is that  past mass extinctions can teach us lessons for the present, as we find ourselves in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. This time, human activity is the cause of the extinction–beginning tens of thousands of years ago with the loss of megafauna like marsupial lions, giant kangaroos, woolly mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths due to hunting, and continuing today due to habitat loss and human-induced climate change. This book is ultimately a cautionary tale: learn from the past so we can avoid a catastrophe on the same scale today. 

On March 20, 2019, Peter Brannen will be speaking at an event at the Library of Congress called “Climate Change, Nature, and the Writer’s Eye”, along with distinguished authors Annie Proulx and Amitav Ghosh. The authors will discuss environmental change and a writer’s responsibility to the issue. This event is approved for FMN continuing education credit. The event is free but registration is required. 

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

Turning the tide on plastic waste

The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge, a key component of National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures’ partnership to reduce plastic waste, asks problem solvers from around the globe to develop novel solutions to tackle the world’s plastic waste crisis.

More than 9 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year, and without interventions, this number is expected to almost double to 17 million tons per year by 2025. The Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge will focus on three strategic ways to address this growing crisis: designing alternatives to single-use plastic, identifying opportunities for industries to address plastic waste throughout supply chains, and effectively communicating the need for action through data visualization.

Teams will compete for aggregate prize purses of up to $500,000, and qualified participating teams may have the opportunity to receive a minimum of $1 million in aggregate investment from Sky Ocean Ventures.

Find out more and apply

Send us your success stories

Have you been working on a service project that has a goal?

Have you accomplished the goal or made progress toward achieving it?

Have you been working in concert with others?

Can you recount the accomplishments of your team?

Can you include measures?

Nope, you don’t need to have solved world hunger or addressed climate change all by yourself. Some successes are simply incremental steps toward outcomes that benefit the environment in Fairfax County and northern Virginia.

Every year, FMN reports stories of success to Virginia Master Naturalists. We’d like to share yours.

Whenever you are ready, please compose up to 500 words that relay (in whichever order best suits your story):

  • The name of your project and the service code
  • Its purpose, goals, and current objectives
  • Who’s working on the project–they don’t all have to be FMNers
  • What have you accomplished to date?
  • How do you measure those accomplishments beyond hours spent (e.g., if you planted a pollinator garden, what did it attract over what period of time that’s different from what used to visit that area? In addition to creatures that fly or crawl, did you attract human visitors? helpers? funding to continue? How many? How much?)
  • How much help do you need from chapter members?
  • What might we learn?
  • Why is this activity worth the investment of time?
  • How does it bring you pleasure? Would we have fun, too?

Please send the story and 2-3 photos with captions to vmnfairfax@gmail.com. A member of the FMN Communications team will be in touch within a few days, and your story will be posted to this site.

Yes, the time you spend on the story counts toward your service hours.

Questions? Again, vmnfairfax@gmail.com

Annual Aldo Leopold Read-a-thon, January 20th

RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 20TH DUE TO SNOW

Villages of Piedmont Clubhouse
16080 Market Ridge Blvd., Haymarket, VA
Sunday, 13 January 2019
4 – 6 pm

Join the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust to celebrate Aldo Leopold’s 132nd birthday! Their annual read-a-thon will feature guest speakers to read spoken excerpts from Leopold’s books. The event is free and will honor the legendary conservationist and his work. Feel free to join them in the audience to listen. Please get in touch with them if you’d like to be a guest speaker. They will also have open slots available day-of for volunteer readers from the crowd. RSVP to Emily at ebowman@nvct.org or call 703-354-5093.