Posts

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.  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

Beetles of Virginia, with Dr. Art Evans, June 15

Clifton Institute
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187-7106

Saturday, June 15
7:30PM – 9:30PM

Join the Institute for a program about beetles presented by entomologist and author Dr. Art Evans. After his presentation, Dr. Evans will take everyone outside  to set up several black light sheets to attract nocturnal beetles and other insects. Dr. Evans is the author of Beetles of Eastern North America. He is an adjunct professor and teaches entomology and medical entomology at the University of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College, and Virginia Commonwealth University. $10 a person.

Learn more

Natural history and conservation of Virginia moths, with Dr. Steve Roble, June 29

Clifton Institute
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187-7106

Saturday, June 29
8:00PM – 10:30PM

Dr. Steve Roble will give a presentation on the natural history about moths and a summary of his agency’s efforts during the past 30 years to study the moths of Virginia. Then we will go outside and use ultraviolet lights to attract moths and other nocturnal insects and discuss some of our finds.

Dr. Steve Roble is the head Zoologist for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage. He is the editor of Banisteria, the semiannual journal of the Virginia Natural History Society, and a research associate at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. $10 a person.

Learn more

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.

Audubon Afternoon: Raptors of Virginia, Maryland, and DC, June 9

Sunday, June 9, 2019
2:30-5:00 PM
National Wildlife Center, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive Reston, VA, 20190

Please join the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for an exciting Audubon Afternoon.

As Secret Garden Birds and Bees presents “Raptors of Virginia, Maryland and DC,” they will have with them five live raptors for us to see and photograph, including a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk.

The audience will gather for refreshments at 2:30 p.m., have a brief Annual Meeting to elect officers and directors at 3:00, and begin the main program at about 3:15.

This is an event the whole family will enjoy!  As always, they welcome any food and drink that you would like to share with everyone.

Help with Water Quality Field Day, May 30

The Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division is looking for volunteers to help out with a Water Quality Field Day. 175 Fort Belvoir 6th-grade students will come in small groups to various activities. Urban Forest Managment’s will be a game demonstrating how water moves through soil of various types.

Thursday, May 30
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Contact Katharine Layton to volunteer: 703-324-1857 or Katharine.Layton@fairfaxcounty.gov