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January 2019

OUR NEXT CHAPTER MEETING January 17- See VMN Calendar for more info or contact us!

Seven of our members will give short “TED-type” talks:

Andrea Kinder-Green Spaces in your Neighborhood

Mike Mobley- The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Judy Gallagher- Dragonflies!

Tom Ligon- How Smart are Bees?

Susan Farmer- “Don’t touch that!” and other stuff that adults teach kids outdoors

Val Huelsman- Spring Phenology-tracking seasonal climate associated responses in mosquito larvae and plants

Charlie Grymes- Wildlife Cops on the Prowl

We look forward to seeing everyone.

What are Merrimac Farm Master Naturalists Up To?

Heritage Habitat at Conway Robinson- Manassas Battlefield

A group of Merrimac Farm and Fairfax Master Naturalists took a walk in the woods at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Va.

Harry Puffinberger from the Central Rappahannock VMN led us over trails in the James Madison Landmark Forest and Montpelier Demonstration Forest. It was a combined interpretive walks and a demonstration on a combined interpretive walk and explaining how the chapter conducts walks and educational resources for Montpelier visitors.

As a chapter project, Merrimac Farm VMNs is doing something similar with trails in adjacent sections of the Conway Robinson State Forest and the Manassas Battlefield National Park. We’ll be developing educational resources such as trail walks, interpretive signs, publications, a website and Facebook page.

The project is just beginning. We plan a soft launch, with a interpretive trail walk for Master Naturalists in early June. The project needs volunteers to lead and assist with interpretive walks, write educational content, and with stewardship projects such as trail maintenance and invasive removals. To learn how you can help, email us at If your interested in the stewardship projects, email the stewardship project coordinator, Andrea Kinder.

Central Rappahanock's Harry Puffinberger holds a Lumpy Bracket fungus found on the trail

Master naturalists scoping out a bird at Montpelier


Sunday, February 11, 3:30-5:30 pm, Prince William Wild Plant Society Lecture- Heather Holm, author of Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide, Manassas Park Community Center, 99 Adams Street, Manassas Park, VA

In the past years this lecture series has brought authors Doug Tallamy, Rick Darke and Thomas Rainer to town. This year they sponsor another award-winning author, Heather Holm.

Heather spends much of her time passionately educating audiences about the world of native bees and the native plants that support them. Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, published in 2014, helped establish her as a knowledgeable resource on the subject of the interactions between native bees and native plants. Her latest book, Bees, published in 2017, has won five book awards.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

February 23, 1:00-3:00pm, Prince William Balancing Natives and Ornamentals in Your Garden, Old Historic Manassas Courthouse, Manassas

This lecture from the Master Gardeners of Prince William Education Committee discusses the benefits of native plants and features 25 specimen plants. The lecture is led by Keith Tomlinson of Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This is a free program, but please register by email or call 703-792-7747.

Volunteer Opportunities

Sunday, January 13, Pohick Creek Stream Monitoring Workshop, 10:00am-12:30pm, Wadebrook Terrace, Springfield

Join Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) as we discover aquatic life in Pohick Creek. This official NVSWCD stream monitoring workshop covers watershed health, what macroinvertebrates tell us about stream quality, and what you can do to prevent pollution in your local stream. Registration is limited. RSVP to Ashley Palmer.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Basic Training Courses – New and Refreshers

Been a while since you had your Basic Training Class? Want a refresher? Come to a Basic Training Class or two to earn your CE this year. Two classes are brand new, never offered before. We’ll list classes available two months in advance in the Monday News.

Forest Ecosystems-Jan. 27th, 2-5pm

Suburban and Urban Ecology-Jan. 31, 7-9:30pm

Ornithology-Feb. 2nd, 8-12pm

Mammals-Feb. 7th, 7-9pm

Interpretation and Teaching Skills-Feb. 28th, 7-9pm

Sunday, January 20, 1:30-2:30 pm. (Adults) What's Buggin' You?, Winter Lecture, Green Spring Gardens What was that insect I saw in the garden? Why didn’t I see many butterflies last summer? How can I have more fireflies in my backyard? Bring your bug questions and stories to this mid-winter information exchange about insects. Join entomologist Nate Erwin for a colorful slide show of insects and their associated plants and then a lively discussion about those spineless creatures that do so much for and in our gardens. Cost is $10/person. To register, go to Fairfax County Online and enter code 37D.92B6 in the Search Text/Catalog IDsection, OR call Green Spring Gardens at 703-642-5173.

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

The 4 week course offers woodland and shoreline owners, master naturalist volunteers, and natural resources professionals opportunities to grow their skills to meaningfully engage decision makers about invasive species. Through a series of self-paced online learning activities and one in-person workshop, participants will:

Gain understanding of the roles and levels of government and who to contact regarding invasive species management

Learn to use skills such as influence, power, persuasion, framing, questioning and listening in interactions with decision makers

Know where to find reputable information on the status of invasive species in your area

Create an engagement plan and experience practicing it in a safe, peer-learning environment

See yourself as a resource to decision makers on invasive species management

View engagement with decision makers as a norm and encourage others to do it

Network with other people passionate to make a difference around invasive species.

Please check the General Event Calendar for other upcoming opportunities. It’s full of continuing education and stewardship opportunities!

Photo by Linda Richardson

Further Reading from the Merrimac Farm Master Naturalist Facebook Page and More

Birds are probably the most photographed of all wildlife. They bedazzle us with their colors, songs and curious behaviors. We see and hear them everywhere throughout the year. No wonder they are a favorite subject for photography.

Share Your Story

We'd like to feature your Master Naturalist project. We'll even help you write it if you want.Tell us at


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