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How can universities and colleges advance community science?

Reposted from On the Job, a blog hosted by the American Geophysical Union

A cool thing about working at Thriving Earth Exchange is learning about excellent work being done in community science. There is a lot going on in colleges and universities, and even research-focused universities are starting to change in ways that advance and support community science. In making those changes, they can look to a history of community science in two-year colleges, agricultural extension offices, tribal colleges, and historically black colleges. I love that idea that the emergence of community science is an opportunity to recognize their long-standing leadership.  How cool is it that Stanford might learn from Haskell Indian Nations University?

Here are some of the things universities and colleges are doing, distilled into a set of recommendations for any university or college seeking to advance community science.  Don’t think of this as a list of hit singles, think of it as the tracks on an album, where the songs are mutually reinforcing and tell a larger story (e.g. Lemonade). That is, the biggest impact seems to come from tackling all the practices described here.

 

  1. Redefine Success. For the past 75 years, professional success in science has been based primarily on original discovery, usually measured by publications and citations. Worcester Polytechnic Institute has revised their tenure process based on Boyer’s model of scholarship, so that they recognize not only discovery and teaching, but also application and engagement. West Chester University has long allowed faculty to shift the relative weight of service, teaching, and research in their tenure portfolios, which means faculty who focus on community science can weight that higher. At University of Washington, the dean of the college of the Environment invites new faculty to write one less paper, and instead spend that time working with her team to translate their work into real world impact.
  2. Learn to Count Impact. I am convinced that one of the reasons papers count is because we know how to count papers. How can we shift from impact factor to societal impact? Let’s support research into the benefits of community-engaged approaches, including their benefits for communities, faculty and students.  I think a promising place to start is around the idea of community science literacy, which emphasizes a community’s capacity to use science by linking it with their members other skills and assets.  This framing is powerful because it’s asset-based and it includes both concrete accomplishment and future potential.
  3. Organize around priorities, not disciplines. Community priorities don’t map onto single disciplines, so being good at community science means being multidisciplinary. Colleges can make interdisciplinary work easier though centers that bring together faculty and students from many departments, like the School for Innovation and the Future of Society at ASU or the Haskell Environmental Research Center. Centers like these can also offer seed-funding, new kinds of course work and preparation, project management support, and coordinate community partnerships. For communities, these centers can help communities avoid getting lost in university bureaucracy.
  4. Build Institutional connections to community organizations. For community science to succeed at scale and last over time, a university or college has to build strong, trusting relationships with community groups. A long-term, university or college-wide commitment allows a college to reach across disciplines, engage different people over time, present a single point of contact for managing projects and relationships, and guide the institutional evolution necessary to support community science.  Of course, motivated faculty and students will build relationships anyway, but without university support and alignment, those relationships disappear when the students or faculty move on or risk being undermined  by actions in another part of the university.  An institutional leadership can look like a vice-chancellor for community engagement, or even a presidential commitment to community partnership. UC Davis has a Center for Citizen and Community Science that serves as hub for both doing and studying community engagement.
  5. Build the infrastructure for community science. One of the things I often hear is that community science is hard to do and takes a long time to get results. Numerical modeling is also hard and it also takes a long time to get results, but we make it easier by providing infrastructure (computing centers, for example). What if colleges and universities invested in infrastructure for community science?  Infrastructure includes space to hold community meetings, hubs in local neighborhoods, online engagement tools, workplace flexibility that allows people to manage engagement around community work schedules, help navigating languages and cultures, solid partnerships with community-serving organizations, and administrative services that support community engagement (see point 8).
  6. Educate people to do community science. Make it a part of every science graduate program and encourage proficiency before graduation. Create opportunities to learn and practice community ethics, community engagement, cultural humility, conflict management and listening as a research skill. There are fields that do this well already – public health, human geography, ecology, and anthropology – other sciences can learn a lot.  Offer mentorship program around community science.   For physical scientists, NSF has a new program that pays students and advisors to do internships – why not internships in community science?  One thing that would be especially cool is classes where community leaders and scientists learn community science together. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a remarkable project, the NOISE project, that does exactly that.
  7. Make equity the foundation of community science. Science is already influenced by and a partner in the implicit biases and systemic inequities that are part of the larger world. Unless you are designing with equity in mind, you’re probably perpetuating inequity. Equity as a foundation of community science means respecting, welcoming, and advancing all communities. It also means being a partner to communities in their efforts to tackle inequity and looking for ways science can help elevate community voices and perspectives. Institutions that were designed to advance equity – Tribal Colleges, HBCU’s – are the obvious exemplars, but I think any institution, can and should, make a commitment to equity.
  8. Share power, money and decision-making. Doing community science means that institutions with power and privilege, universities and colleges, will make a conscious decision to share that power and privilege.   The most successful community science projects share the budget so that community organizations benefit as directly as the science institution, build in fair compensation for the expertise and participation of community members, have well-defined leadership roles that are shared by community leaders and scientists, and have clearly outlined processes for making decisions. This backed up by open agreements about intellectual property, community review boards, and shared ethical principles of engagement.  One thing I would love to see is research dollars going to community groups, so they can invest in the research to answer their questions.   We should also look at how resources are shared among colleges and universities. Will new funds for community science go to smaller schools that have been doing it well forever, or to high-profile institutions that are new to community science?

 

The cool thing about all of these practices is that they are doable. In fact, some institutions are already doing them – as revealed in the recent AGU Union Session.  What that means is that the revolutionary part of the community science revolution isn’t knowing how to do community science, or even finding people who are doing community science. The revolutionary part is changing structures and systems so that we encourage, facilitate, and reward community science.  I think universities and colleges have an opportunity to lead that revolution, and some already are.  What do you think?

Raj Pandya, Director, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union

Nature’s fine methods

Jerry Nissley

I recently attended a family reunion at my cousin’s restored farm house in Southampton County, Virginia. Standing sentinel to the house is a massive eastern white oak (Quercus alba) dramatically adorned with resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides). I was taken with this newly discovered (if only to me) fern and later sat down to research and write an article about the fern. 

Figure 1 House and oak tree

As I fondly rehashed conversations with the four generations at the reunion about how the land was recently recovered and the house rebuilt, and then discovered facts about the resurrection fern, what was originally an article revealed itself as a story. A story not only about a fern but more so of, well, resurrection—land into a distinguished Virginia farm, a house rebuilt into a home, and the recognition of a great white oak that has witnessed 350 years of history unfold. The symbolism of resurrection was inescapable.

The story parts blend so homogeneously with the first credo FMN students are introduced to: Awareness leads to knowledge which leads to appreciation which leads to conservation.

This story is an allegory of that credo. It tells of an initial awareness of the importance of the land and ensuing knowledge of its man-made and natural elements. It represents the appreciation of the forefather’s vision in developing the homestead and the innate desire of the current caretakers to preserve structures and conserve the beauty and integrity of the land’s natural treasures. One could loosely associate Jared Diamond’s warning about landscape amnesia—where people lose knowledge of how the natural world once was, with each succeeding generation accepting a degraded environment as the status quo (Diamond, 2005). That would not be the case with these people, with this environment.

As FMNers, we all love field trips right? So please, I invite you on a short, figurative field trip. One in which we will briefly discover some Virginia history, celebrate a sentinel oak, and then explore specific details about the resurrection fern.

The House 

We begin our field trip at the house in Southampton County, Virginia. The property has been in the Hart family for over 150 years and is now a registered Virginia Century Farm. Originally the farmers raised livestock on open land; rotated peanuts, corn, cotton, and soybeans to maintain soil quality; and designated large portions for timber.

Even though the property has been continually farmed by the family, as generations passed, the main house and farm buildings were at times rented out to achieve the greatest economic potential. The main house was adequately maintained, but the auxiliary buildings not so much. A few were lost to time and lack of maintenance, but the barn and blacksmith shed faired better.

My cousins, Patricia and Paul Milteer, were able to make the property their permanent home and tirelessly restored the farm house, barn, and blacksmith’s shed. They later applied to the Virginia Century Farm Program, and the farm is now officially registered by the state as The Hart Farm.

As stated on the program’s web-site, the Virginia Century Farm Program recognizes and honors those farms that have been in operation for at least 100 consecutive years and the Virginia farm families whose diligent and dedicated efforts have maintained these farms, provided nourishment to their fellow citizens and contributed so greatly to the economy of the Commonwealth. 

Figure 2 The Milteers’ Oak: Points: 366; Trunk circumference: 19’6”; Height: 100’; Average spread: 120’; Estimated age: 350 years

The family owners of farms designated as Virginia Century Farms receive a certificate signed by the Governor and the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, along with a sign for outdoor display (Century Farms, n.d.). 

The Tree 

Our field trip continues just out the front door. We can sit on the porch and consider the tree. Once the house and auxiliary buildings were restored functionally and aesthetically, the Milteers were able to focus on the massive eastern white oak standing as gatekeeper to their home. The oak provides home and food to a variety of animals. A barn owl (Tyto alba) nests in the branches and bats take sanctuary in the folds of the bark. 

The acorns take only one growing season to develop unlike those of the red oak group, which require at least 18 months for maturation. They are much less bitter than acorns of red oaks so they are preferred by a wider variety of wildlife. They are small relative to most oaks, but are a valuable annual food notably for turkeys, wood ducks, pheasants, grackles, jays, nuthatches, thrushes, woodpeckers, rabbits, and deer. The white oak is the only known food plant for the Bucculatrix luteella and Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa caterpillars. (Q. Alba, n.d.)

Recognizing the tree’s impressive size, the Milteers reached out to The Virginia Big Tree Program, an educational program within the Virginia Cooperative Extension that started out as a 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) project in 1970. Today the program is coordinated by the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. Their mission is to increase the care and appreciation for all trees—big and small—and educate the Commonwealth about the value of trees and forests. The Virginia Big Tree Program maintains a register of the five largest specimens of more than 300 native, non-native, and naturalized tree species. The register includes information about each tree’s size, location, and unique characteristics. (Virginia Cooperative Extension, n.d.)

Trees are ranked on a point system measuring height, crown spread, and trunk circumference. The 500-year-old national record holder for Q. alba grows in Brunswick, Virginia and scored 451 points in 2012. The next highest scoringVirginia Q. alba scored 398 (Southampton), 397 (Lee), and 396 (Albemarle) respectively. (Big trees, n.d.)

Byron Carmean and Gary Williamson, volunteers for Virginia Big Tree Program, scored the Milteer’s tree at 366, so it probably will not make the top five (maybe the top ten).

The Fern

Let’s move our field trip just off the porch to contemplate the fern. Field trips don’t get easier than this, folks! 

Pleopeltis polypodioides (Andrews & Windham), also known as the resurrection fern, is a species of creeping, coarse-textured fern native to the Americas and Africa. The leathery, yellow-green pinnae (leaflets) are deeply pinnatifid and oblong. It attaches to its host with a branching, creeping, slender rhizome, which grows to 2 mm in diameter (P. Polypodioides, n.d.). The fern is facultative to North American Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain physiographical areas.

Figure 3: Resurrection fern

This fern is not parasitic. It is an epiphyte or air plant. It attaches itself to a host and collects nourishment from air and water and nutrients that collect on the outer surface of the host. The resurrection fern lives commensalistically on the branches of large trees such as cypresses and may often be seen carpeting the shady areas on limbs of large oak trees as pictured on the Milteer’s tree. It also grows on rock surfaces and dead logs. In the southeastern United States, it is often found in the company of other epiphytic plants such as Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and is always found with some type of moss (phylum Bryophyta). The fern has spores (sori) on the bottom of the fronds and sporulates in summer and early fall (Oak and Fern, n.d.). Interestingly, rhizome sections are also viable offspring and can root themselves in new medium.

 The resurrection fern gets its name because it can survive long periods of drought by curling up its fronds and appearing desiccated, grey-brown and dead. However, when just a little water is presented, the fern will uncurl and reopen, appearing to “resurrect” and restores itself to a vivid green color in as little as three hours. Studies suggest these ferns could last 100 years without water and still revive after a single exposure. 

When the fronds “dry” as shown in Figure 4 (2 weeks after the reunion), they curl with their bottom sides upwards. In this way, they rehydrate more quickly when rain comes, as most of the water is absorbed on the underside of the pinnae. Experiments have shown they are able to lose almost all their free water (up to 97%) and remain viable, though more typically they lose around 76% in dry spells. For comparison, most other plants may die after losing only 8-12%. When drying, the fern synthesizes the protein dehydrin, which allows cell walls to fold in a way that can be easily reversed later (Plant Signaling, n.d.).

Figure 4 Dry fronds

Even more life, in forms that aren’t visible to the naked eye, may call the fern a community home. Stems, leaves, and flowers host microorganisms, creating a habitat called a phyllosphere, a term used in microbiology to refer to all above-ground portions of plants as habitat for microorganisms. The phyllosphere is subdivided into the caulosphere (stems), phylloplane (leaves), anthosphere (flowers), and carposphere (fruits). The below-ground microbial habitats (i.e., the thin-volume of soil surrounding root or subterranean stem surfaces) are referred to as the rhizosphere and laimosphere, respectively. Most plants host diverse communities of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists. Some are beneficial to the plant; others function as plant pathogens and may damage the host plant or even kill it. However, the majority of microbial colonists on any given plant have no detectable effect on plant growth or function. Plant phyllospheres in general are considered a hostile environment for microorganisms to live due to the variation in ultra-violet radiation, temperature, water, and nutrient contents. The phyllosphere of P. polypodioides is considered even more extreme due to the mercurial environmental conditions this epiphyte is typically found in and the dry/wet states it cycles through (Phyllosphere, n.d.).

Microorganisms do indeed survive in the phyllosphere of P. polypodioides though, even during its dry periods. In “Changes in the phyllosphere community of the resurrection fern, Polypodium polypodioides associated with rainfall and wetting”, Jackson (2006) found the micro-organism community changes as the resurrection fern moves from a dry state to wet state. Additionally, the researchers found that certain populations of microorganisms increase their enzyme activity after the fern revives. The researchers concluded that these microorganisms are responding to the secretion of sugary organics released through the plant’s surface once the fern is back to its robust, green state. Changes in phyllosphere extracellular enzyme activity are seen first as an initial burst of activity following rainfall and a subsequent burst approximately 48 hours later as additional nutrient sources emerge.

Figure 5 Revived fern

Cultural studies have shown that Native peoples historically recognized the significance of the resurrection fern. It has been used as a diuretic, a remedy for heart problems, and as a treatment for infections. Benefits of the resurrection fern are not lost on the modern pharmaceutical industry. Recent medical research confirming these cultural reports have shown that extracts from the fern have anti-arrhythmic cardiac properties—truly a potential for resurrection of the heart.

Figure 6 Resurrection Fern up close

Thanks in part to the training provided by dedicated FMN program instructors, in this case our resident dendrologist Jim McGlone, I am aware of trees like never before. I see trees, I see what lives in trees, I see ferns, and I see the need for conservation. What I need to see more clearly and we all need to experience is the indelible, spiritual, personal relationship people need to have with nature. People are the caretakers of the gifts we have been given on earth, and people need to be the stimulus for conservation. As John Muir (1911) elegantly journaled, “How fine Nature’s methods! How deeply with beauty is beauty overlaid!” It is inspiring to me that something as small as a fern encouraged awareness, understanding, appreciation and, yes, resurrection of “nature’s fine methods”.

 

Works Cited

Big trees. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.americanforests.org: www.americanforests.org/get-involved/americas-biggest-trees/bigtrees-search/bigtrees-advanced-search/

Century Farms. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.vdacs.virginia.gov: www.vdacs.virginia.gov/conservation-and-environmental-virginia-century-farms.shtml

Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.

Jackson, E. F. (2006). Changes in the phyllosphere community of the resurrection fern, Polypodium polypodioides, associated with rainfall and wetting. FEMS microbiology ecology 58.2, 236-246.

Muir, J. (1911). My First Summer in the Sierra. Boston: Houghton Miffin.

Oak and Fern. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.sciphotos.com: www.sciphotos.com/2016/01/oak-tree-resurrection-fern.html

P. Polypodioides. (n.d.). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleopeltis_polypodioides

Phyllosphere. (n.d.). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllosphere

Plant Signaling. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256378

Q. Alba. (n.d.). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_alba

Virginia Cooperative Extension (n.d.). Virginia Big Tree Program. Retrieved from ext.vt.edu: http://ext.vt.edu/natural-resources/big-tree.html

Riverbend Park: A story of abundant opportunities to volunteer

Tom Blackburn

When I graduated from the Master Naturalist training program about five years ago, Riverbend Park was the first place I looked for volunteer opportunities.  Although I volunteer with other parks and organizations, Riverbend has long been my favorite place to work.  Over the years, I have helped with kayak trips, astronomy programs, Bluebell Festivals, Native American Festivals, summer camps, scout merit badges, educational hikes, and trash cleanups.  I even created and led “Moonshine and Mayhem” hikes, with guidance from Park staff, during which I interpreted the history of the park during the Prohibition Era.  But my most rewarding time at the park has been as a School Programs Lead Volunteer (E 110).  

Riverbend hosts numerous classes of second through fourth graders who come to learn about the park’s natural resources, Native Americans, ecology, and the environment.  School Programs Lead Volunteers have a unique opportunity to open students’ eyes and imaginations to the natural world and the cultural history of the area.  Grade school students have a sense of wonder and excitement about the world that inspires me every time I lead a class.  Their enthusiasm as they learn to shoot a bow and arrow, figure out why sand is deposited along a trail, squeal over frogs and snakes, or learn life cycles of animals and plants always leaves me even more energized after the class than when I begin it.  I end each session convinced that I benefited from the class at least as much as the students.   

Working at Riverbend is particularly enjoyable because of the park’s welcoming and appreciative staff.  Rita Peralta, the Natural Resources Manager; Jordan Libera, the Senior Interpreter Program Manager; Valeria Espinoza, the Volunteer Coordinator; Julie Gurnee, the Visitor Center Manager; and the Interpreters are all committed to their tasks and a pleasure to work with.  

Numerous other FMNers have found Riverbend to be a rewarding place to volunteer.  To name just a few, Kris Lansing and Robin Duska lead bird walks (C106); Nancy Yinger, Jean Skolnick, Jerry Peters, Doreen Peters, and Janice Meyer conduct citizen science surveys of wildflowers, salamanders and dragonflies (C106); and Marilyn Kupetz provides care for the park’s animals (S182).  Other FMNs have helped with eliminating invasives and planting native plants at the park.  

It’s easy to begin volunteering at Riverbend.  Valeria Espinoza coordinates volunteers and sends periodic messages about volunteer opportunities.  If you contact her at valeria.espinoza@fairfaxcounty.gov, she will tell you how to get on her list.  And the Park  is accepting applications for School Programs Lead Volunteers through September, at https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179279. 

Come volunteer at Riverbend–you’ll be glad you did!

Job opportunity: Community education pilot called Watch the Green Grow

The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking an individual to manage a new community education and social marketing pilot project called Watch the Green Grow. The successful candidate will work across agency divisions to implement and evaluate the pilot project at stream valley parks across Fairfax County.

Salary: $20.00-$25.00 Hourly non-merit, benefits eligible (medical coverage is available with a portion of the premium covered by the county)

Location: Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway) and various field locations

Schedule: This position is scheduled to work 20 to 30 hours per week with a minimum of 1039 hours per year but not to exceed 1,560 hours per calendar year. There is no guarantee of a minimum number of scheduled hours (daily, weekly, monthly) Weekend and evening work hours should be expected.  Position funding only lasts 1 year July 1, 2019- June 30, 2020.

Job Description

  • Design & deliver messages to various audiences that target park neighbors with wildlife friendly messages including encroachment prevention.
  • Design and develop associated media, resources and trainings to drive implementation of the Watch the Green Grow program.
  • Build collaborations with current and new partners
  • Manage project budget and supplies.
  • Recruit, supervise and train volunteers and rover staff as needed
  • Market and conduct outreach programs to multiple audiences including Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences for schools and presentations to neighborhood associations.
  • Manage crowdsourcing app reports and promote reporting among participants and community partners.
  • Evaluate success of efforts and provide written report at end of pilot study

Qualifications

BA/BS in resource management, education, communication/ marketing or related field or equivalent education and experience combination.

  • Demonstrated success in program development or design.
  • Familiarity with ArcGIS mapping a plus.
  • Strong relationship management and communication skills. Ability to relate to field staff and community program partners, and to develop trusting relationships quickly.
  • Strong management skills and the ability to motivate, excite, and educate both internal and external resources. Ability to inspire others.
  • A strong work ethic coupled with an enthusiastic and passionate approach to one’s work. The successful candidate will be a highly energetic, hands-on individual who can meet deadlines and produce products.
  • Willing to travel in-county, and work with a team and network of field staff, volunteers and community partners.

How to apply: email cover letter and resume to Tammy.schwab@fairfaxcounty.gov

Interfaith learning and engagement: Exploring why nature matters to us

Join this 6-session youth outdoor education program for a special interfaith Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. Together, the group will explore why nature is important and discuss what we can do to connect with and protect the earth. 

Session 1: June 23 

Whitehall Farm | 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM | Clifton, VA | Introduction to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Part I 

Session 2: June 30 

Hard Bargain Farm | 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Accokeek, MD | Introduction to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Part II 

Session 3: July 7 

Whitehall Farm | 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM | Clifton, VA | Art in Nature 

Session 4: July 14 

Whitehall Farm | 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM | Clifton, VA | Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Farming 

Sessions 5: July 21 

Theodore Roosevelt Island | 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM | Washington, DC | Invasive Plant Removal 

Session 6: July 28 

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park | 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM | Clifton, VA | Educational Hike 

Space is limited. For more information or to register contact@greenmuslims.org | www.greenmuslims.org 

Sharable flyer

Call for entries: Virginia Master Naturalist Photo Contest

Were you taking your family on a bluebell walk and took a perfect photo of light filtering through the tree canopy? Were you documenting a citizen science project and snapped a great blue heron as it took off from the shoreline? We want your photos!

The  Virginia Master Naturalist program is sponsoring a statewide photo contest. Each chapter may submit one photo in one of five categories:

Virginia Native Wildlife (Category Code: Wildlife)

Virginia Native Plant and Fungi World (Category Code: Plant)

Virginia Native Landscapes (Category Code: Landscape)

Virginia Native Macro and Night Photography (Category Code: M&N)

Virginia Master Naturalists in Action (Category Code: VMN)

Simply upload your photos to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #FMNphotos19.  In the alternative, photos may be emailed to vmnfairfax@gmail.com.  Please include the category for which you are submitting the photo and your name in the photo identification.

Our Fairfax Master Naturalist (FMN) chapter will accept entries from our members in good standing until 11:59 pm on Friday, 5 July. Winners will be notified by Friday, 19 July. The photographers of the four winning entries must forward their entries to the statewide competition by 11:59 pm on Friday, 9 August. Participants agree that all images submitted may be used by the FMN program for our website, newsletter, social media and other promotional purposes. Photographers will receive a photo credit.  See the 2018 VMN winners here.

Photo Editing
Permitted modifications:

  • Cropping, resizing, and rotating photo
  • Red-eye removal
  • Corrective functions to improve the natural appearance of the image, such as white balance, brightness, contrast, levels, color balance, saturation, sharpening, noise reduction

     Modifications not permitted:

  • Adding, removing, or replacing elements
  • Artistic filters
  • Added borders or frames

Photo sizing: All photographs must be high resolution digital JPEGs and winning images will be sized for optimum viewing in a PowerPoint presentation.

See the complete rules here.

For questions, contact us at vmnfairfax@gmail.com with the subject line: FMN Photo Contest

 

Explore a working landscape at Manassas National Battlefield Park

You’re invited!

A coalition led by Master Naturalists from both the Merrimac Farm and Fairfax chapters, called Heritage Habitat, is crafting nature tours for the public at Manassas National Battlefield Park and Conway Robinson State Forest.  The theme is “Heritage Habitat: A Working Educational Landscape”.  The National Park Service, Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension have been strongly active and supportive of expanding interpretation at those two sites.

After months of preparation, we launch on June 1, 9:00-11:00am with our first walking tour at Brawner Farm in Manassas National Battlefield Park.  All Master Naturalists are invited!  Come for an educational trial run of this program.  In addition to learning about how the landscape is managed, we’ll be looking for feedback on the program.

The battlefield maintains a historical pattern of field and forest through hay field leases and use of prescribed fire.  Conway Robinson State Forest, in Gainesville, is a working demonstration forest, with active management of species composition though thinning and harvest of trees.  Both sites are rich in biodiversity as well as history, and excellent places for introducing the general public to the challenges of managing land to keep it “natural.”  

The Heritage Habitat team is also looking for more volunteers to support or even lead several tours per year, to add to posts/pictures on Facebook, and to explore the sites in more depth.  Interested?  Contact Bryan Graham at bryan.graham@djj.virginia.gov or Heritage Habitat at HeritageHabitat@yahoo.com. Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HeritageHabitat/; Twitter handle @HeritageHabitat

No registration is required, but please RSVP to one of the email addresses if you’re planning on attending.The location is the Brawner Farm interpretive center in the Manassas National Battlefield Park.  From Lee Highway (US-29 ) driving from Centreville, turn right (north) at the traffic light onto Pageland Lane.  After about 2000 feet, the entrance is on the right.

From homo sapiens to geo sapiens: The quest for the earthwise human

Thursday, June 6

6:30-9 p.m.

Yorktown High School, 5200 Yorktown Blvd, Patriot Hall, Arlington

Please join EcoAction Arlington for a special evening featuring Martin Ogle, the former chief naturalist for NOVA Parks. Ogle’s presentation will combine the concepts of the Gaia Theory, the idea that living organisms and inorganic components of Earth form a single living system, with new ideas about creating a green economy that works for people and the planet.

This timely and unique talk will challenge participants to envision new educational themes as well as careers and business concepts that are compatible with human nature and Nature as a whole. It will advocate for bringing these ideas to young people–especially high school students–to empower them to create a better world. Ogle believes that our response to social/environmental challenges should reflect new understandings of human society as a seamless continuum of a living planet.  He uses the phrase, “Geo sapiens,” to capture this new sense of ourselves as “Earth-wise.”

This presentation will expand our thinking about how human creativity itself, as an extension of Earth’s life, can inspire and enable us to apply that creativity directly at our most pressing challenges.

The event is free but registration would be appreciated.  You can RSVP here

Thanks to our event co-sponsors and exhibitors:

Earth Force , For A Strawless Sea, Leaders in Energy, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, and St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

Virginia Master Naturalist Statewide Conference and Volunteer Training

The 2019 conference will be Friday, September 20-Sunday, September 22.  Pre-conference field trips and activities will take place during the day on Friday, and the main event will run Friday evening through Sunday mid-day.

In 2019, the VMN-Headwaters Chapter welcomes VMN volunteers from across Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley. The event will be based at the Massanetta Springs Camp & Conference Center, five miles from downtown Harrisonburg.  From there, it is a short trip to terrific field trip sites, including Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, several Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Area Preserves, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, and more.

Registration Dates and Types

Early Registration will open in mid-July and Regular Registration will open in mid-August, specific dates TBA.

Two registration types in 2019:

  • Full Conference – $185 during Early Registration, or $200 during Regular Registration
  • Saturday Training Only (price includes Saturday lunch) – $75 during Early Registration, or $85 during Regular Registration

Information on the agenda and lodging

Volunteer needed to staff Hidden Oaks table at family festival, June 15

Hidden Oaks seeks a volunteer to staff the Hidden Oaks table at a family festival featuring local environmental and nature groups and displays. 

When? June 15, 11:30am – 2:15 pm

Where? First Christian Church of Alexandria, 2723 King Street Alexandria

What? Parents and children stop by the Hidden Oaks table to see insects, toad, and tadpoles. Hidden Oaks provides all materials. The church offers a child development center for disadvantaged preschoolers and their families who would be participating in this event.  

To volunteer:  Contact Fiona Davies at fiona.davies@fairfaxcounty.gov