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VMN CE Webinar: Maple syrup as a forest product, Mar. 28th

Virginia Master Naturalists Continuing Education Webinar

Thursday, 28 March 2019, 12:00 pm
Meeting Number: 199-915-948
Link to join: Join Webinar

It’s possible to collect sap sustainably from any species of maple, sap that can be processed into a valuable syrup.  In many parts of Virginia, this can prove to be a viable cottage industry (or at least an interesting demonstration project).  The VMN-High Knob Chapter has overseen a demo “sugar bush” on the Powell River Project Research & Education Center in Wise County for the last four winters.  Chris Allgyer and Phil Meeks will discuss the process for collecting sap and making syrup, as well as its potential as an off-season forest product.  Other species of trees that can yield a usable syrup will also be discussed.

Presenters:

Phil Meeks is the Extension Agent for Agriculture & Natural Resources in Wise County and is the chapter advisor for the High Knob Chapter of VMN.

Chris Allgyer is President of the VMN High Knob Chapter. He recently retired from Mountain Empire Community College where he taught mathematics for 46 years.

Link for recordings of this and past webinars: VMN Continuing Education page.

If you have specific technical questions, try the Zoom Support Center.

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

Deadline for 2019 Mason Bee Monitoring Project: Feb 11

Volunteers are being sought across all of Virginia to join in monitoring efforts of the declining native blue orchard mason bee, during March to May 2019. Fill out the interest form to be considered for the 2019 Monitoring Project, and feel free to share with friends, fellow VMNs, and neighbors:  https://goo.gl/forms/cg4DTkALU4YpuYd22

If you are interested and your chapter has not yet approved a project for this, download the Mason Bee 2019 Project Proposal here and submit it to your chapter’s Project Chair.

You can also find this, along with all the information you need to know about the project, on the VMN state website on the project’s webpage: http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/mason-bee-research.html 

If you have any questions, please contact

Katie LeCroy at masonbeemonitoring@gmail.com

Pay it forward by training FMNers

Are you a member of the Fairfax Master Naturalists chapter? Do you enjoy bringing friends, neighbors, and colleagues into the naturalist fold? Figuring out just the right way to tell a story so that folks follow your lead? It could be your moment to shine.

Pete Mecca has served at the Training Committee Chair for 3 years and will rotate off this summer. Big shoes, yup, and Pete is a great mentor.

Please contact him or Debbie Walch about taking on his role (maybe with a buddy…), working with the training committee, and welcoming incoming new FMNers: vmnfairfax@gmail.com.

2018 Annual Report from Fairfax Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists

Each year, our chapter submits a record of what our members have accomplished to the Virginia Master Naturalists home office in Charlottesville, VA. This year, we recorded 12,569 hours across 137  citizen science, education, and stewardship service projects, in addition to chapter administration.

As Past President Michael Reinemer recounts, numbers alone convey neither the dedication of our volunteers nor the outcomes of their work. Those results of these hours, so generously given, include bird counts and surveys, maintenance of bluebird houses and trails; installation and monitoring of nest structures for Purple Martins; stream monitoring; outreach to school children; education on native plants; citizen science efforts to collect data on wildlife populations, native plants, pollinators, and other natural resources; work with partners such as Earth Sangha, Northern Virginia Soil and Water, Fairfax County Parks; and many more.

The report itself is available in its entirety.

2019 Virginia Environmental Education Conference February 7-9, 2019

Virginia Association of Environmental Education (VAEE) has extended the earlybird registration for the 2019 Virginia Environmental Education Annual Conference, at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA

Enjoy a gathering full of professional development, networking opportunities, learning, and field experiences that will expand your knowledge of Environmental Education efforts and resources in the Commonwealth and help you in your VMN endeavors. 

This year’s conference will feature many exciting presentations, keynote speakers, and field trips, including the annual member meeting for the Virginia Association for Environmental Education. 

Other events include various networking opportunities and the annual VAEE Social and Silent Auction.

Information about this year’s conference and registration can be found on the conference webpage

Early-bird registration is extended until January 11, 2019. Registration ends February 4, 2019.

For general registration questions, contact: Bruce Young at bkyoungee@gmail.com

Look what you’ve done!

by Michael Reinemer

As I sign off as president, passing the baton to Joe Gorney, I want to thank each Virginia Master Naturalist in the chapter for what you do. The numbers of volunteer hours are astounding.

It’s hard to overstate how desperately your hours and your expertise are needed. Fairfax County and the whole region suffer from habitat loss, climate change, pollution, fragmentation, overuse – among many other assaults.

Meanwhile, we humans are increasingly disconnected from nature, suffering from the “landscape amnesia” Pete Mecca describes to FMN classes. Or shifting baseline syndrome: It’s impossible to notice the many gradual declines in the natural world – unless you understand the natural world, and you care about it and you actively monitor it. Which is one of the things you do as master naturalists. The statewide mason bee monitoring project is a great example.

You may have read “The Insect Apocalypse Is Here,” the cover story by Brooke Jarvis in the New York Times Magazine, Nov. 27, 2018.  The now global, scientific alarm about loss of insect diversity and abundance was triggered in part by small bug club in Germany. That club of 63 amateur naturalists, which included a few with science backgrounds, documented an astounding 80 percent drop in insect numbers in their research plot over a 30-year period. They had been consistently monitoring and recording changes in insect numbers or biomass in addition to species.

What’s the big deal? As E.O. Wilson put it, “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”  While the “10,000 years” part is probably optimistic, the role of decomposers, pollinators, and other insects is indisputable.

In her NYT piece, Jarvis talks about the long amateur naturalist tradition in Europe and how that has figured into faster, more aggressive response to the insect apocalypse there, compared to the U.S. 

So as part of the growing master naturalist movement in the U.S., you are a vital resource in this era of shrinking budgets for conservation and a time of overt hostility toward science in some quarters of the federal government. Your work as monitors, mentors, and stewards is invaluable.

While all the 2018 numbers aren’t in yet, look what you’ve done:

680 hours staffing information desks at nature centers

445 hours working on nature programs for the county

435 hours removing invasive plants

375 hours as Audubon at Home ambassadors, assessing wildlife habitat

360 hours for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology feederwatch program

350 hours managing habitat and land for Fairfax County Park Authority

343 hours for school programs for Fairfax County Park Authority

330 hours for citizen science programs for the park authority

267 hours monitoring trails for Virginia Bluebird Society

260 hours working with the Plant NoVA Natives campaign

That’s just a small snapshot of your amazing numbers and work. Congratulations, and thank you. 

And a hearty thanks to the many volunteer leaders who serve as officers, committee chairs, and committee members who manage the training and all the mechanics that make the Fairfax Master Naturalists the force for nature that it is.

EmpowerU! Advocating Invasive Species Management Training

Learn how to work with decision makers, influence management decisions, and stop the spread of invasive species!

What?

Have you been working on invasive species issues but feel compelled to do more? Taking part in the EmpowerU Advocacy Training Program will move your invasive species work to the next level! 

The program includes a series of online, self-paced modules, followed by an in-person workshop. Both parts are mandatory. Topics such as who makes decisions about invasive species, persuasion, framing, and finding reliable information about invasives are introduced and then incorporated into your personalized engagement plan via assignments within the online learning modules. At the in-person workshop, you’ll practice the skills you learned and get feedback on your engagement plan.

Who?

This program is open to natural resource volunteers and forest landowners with an interest in developing skills to engage decision-makers in invasive species management.

When?

Participants should allow about two hours a week for four weeks to complete the online course before attending the in-person workshop. During registration, you’ll select which in-person workshop you plan to attend, and the online course will be open to you one month prior to that workshop. Both the online and in-person components are required.

In-person workshop dates and locations:

  • Friday, February 15, Farmville, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday, February 16, Blacksburg, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Friday, March 8, Providence Forge, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday, March 9, Madison, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost?

The course fee is $25 and includes lunch. 

Wait, I Thought Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteers Couldn’t Engage in Advocacy?

Not all engagement with decision-makers is political advocacy!  For example, you and other members of your chapter might adopt a local park and engage in discussions with the park manager in order to advocate for more management of invasive plants in the park.  This sort of engagement is not political advocacy and could legitimately be part of a VMN project.  This training is not focused specifically on lobbying elected officials or getting legislation passed, but rather on effectively engaging the right decision-maker for the change you hope to make. Plus, you might want to use the skills you learn outside of your VMN service!

Registration Info

Before you register, please visit http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/empoweru.html and read all the information so that you can understand the expectations and requirements of the program. If you decide it’s for you, you’ll find the registration information there.

Deadline 

Registration at least one month prior to the in-person workshop is preferred so that you have the full amount of time to complete the online modules.  Registration will close two weeks prior to the in-person workshop.

SPACE IS LIMITED. We will maintain a waitlist as well.

QUESTIONS: please email masternaturalist@vt.edu

Virginia Forest Health Conference

Each year the Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals (VAFHP) holds a conference for professionals and other interested community members who want to learn more about forest health and ecology of the Mid-Atlantic. The 2019 Conference will be held in Blacksburg, VA January 28-29.

Attendees include local, state and federal officials, independent contractors, consultants, horticulture and forest industry representatives and students. We encourage anyone interested in the ecology of the Mid-Atlantic to participate. VAFHP is committed to developing and providing education and training for natural resource professionals. 

This year they will be offering a scholarship which will provide free registration to the conference. Note that the deadline to apply is December 31.  The application for this is available on the VAFHP website.

Agenda and registration 

Diversity Inclusion in Environmental Education webinar

The United States prides itself as a melting pot and with the current overall demographic shifting, we are seeing more nonnative- English-speaking students engage in both the traditional and outdoor classrooms. However, various stereotypes and misconceptions tend to follow this multicultural student, and it is our job as educators to evolve to meet the needs of all of our students. Whether you are interacting with nonnative English speakers during a school presentation or offering educational programs in a nature center, this webinar focuses on various techniques you can use to better connect with your audience. And, no, you do not need to learn a second language!

Presenter: Mariya Hudick, Tri-County/City Soil & Water Conservation District

Mariya Hudick is an Education Coordinator with Tri-County/City Soil & Water Conservation District. Her primary focus is to educate the local community on soil and water conservation efforts. For the last three years, Mariya worked for the Department of Conservation & Recreation as a Park Ranger where she provided meaningful environmental education opportunities for the general public. Mariya is originally from Russia and immigrated with her family in the early 2000s. As a former ESL student, Mariya has used her experiences to better connect with other non-native English speakers in the hopes of inspiring future stewards. She has been conducting research on the multicultural student in environmental education and has partnered with various Master Naturalists to collect and interpret data on the subject for the last two years.

Webinar Details

When: November 27, 2018, 12:00 pm

Meeting Number: 225-404-939

Link to join: Join Webinar

(This link will connect you to the video feed, but you will need to connect your audio separately to hear the speaker.  Zoom will prompt you to do that once you have connected the video feed.  See the technical information below for details on connecting your audio.)

Link for recordings of this and past webinars:  VMN Continuing Education page