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March 2019

We’re Changing the Newsletter.

Beginning this issue, the monthly newsletter will feature mainly chapter and individual naturalist’s projects, with news, updates, profiles and short articles. Eventually we hope to link these to longer features and lists of resources that we’ll post on our new website..

Volunteer and Continuing Education opportunities will be posted every week in the Monday News, and in the Master Naturalist Calendar.

Our Chapter has grown in the last two years to more than 44 active members, an almost equal number of inactive ones, and two basic training classes in 2019. We hope making this change will help keep you in touch with all the fantastic work your fellow master naturalists are doing, and as sources of education and inspiration.

Find and Discuss Books on the new MFVMN Goodreads site – NEW PROJECT

As an online place for chapter members to discover and share science and nature books, Candice Lowther (class of 2018) has created a Goodreadsgroup for Merrimac Farm Virginia Master Naturalists. Goodreads is an established website for people to find, recommend and review books. It has an option for people with similar and specialized interests to form their own groups.

Candice says her vision for the this Goodreads group is “to create an online resource that will help us discover and share science and nature books with one another.”

She has already listed 81 books in the site’s “Bookshelves” section. They include field guides, natural history, essays, narratives, children’s books and other topics. Once you join the group, you can help diversify our shelves by adding your recommendations for science and nature books.

A “Discussions Board.” provides a place to start or join book discussions with other group members. Click “Discussions” on the home page’s the upper right-hand corner or simply scroll down the home page. Candice has organized topics into folders.

If you’re new to Goodreads, go to the “Start Here” folder in the Discussions board, then the “Frequently Asked Questions.” It explains how to add books, respond to topics, edit your posts and add hot links to books and authors. As you ask questions, they will find their way to this folder.

Candice created several other folders that you can explore and a fuller explanation on how to use the page where you can make suggestions, post current events and see some “Fun Stuff.”

To join you must start a Goodreads account and join the Merrimac Farm VMN group. This is a closed group. Only chapter members, verified by the group moderator, can join, add books or comment.

Merrimac Farm Master Naturalist Nell Benton explains to the Occoquan Forest Garden Club how using native plants can increase the quality of habitat in their wooded neighborhood near the Occoquan River. Nell, assisted by Master Naturalist Rosemarie Nielsen, talked about the woodpeckers found in the area, handing out a laminated information sheet, a woodpecker feeder and bird seed packets.

The garden club raffled off a native Ninebark shrub. Rosemarie noted that the club members were especially distressed to learn that lawn chemicals kill fireflies.

“Blues,” the bunny, was not part of the talk, but who can resist?

March 21 General Meeting – Encouraging Communities to Use Native Plants

The guest speaker at our Chapter Meeting on March 21 will talk about how to encourage communities to install native plants. Sheila Ferguson started gardening and propagating native plants more than 10 years ago when she was looking for an affordable solution to planting more than an acre of land. Sheila is a Virginia Master Naturalist with the Banshee Reeks Chapter in Loudoun County. She serves on the Plant Nova Natives campaign steering committee and co-organizes the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s native plant sale.


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