top of page

October 2018


Tick Monitoring at Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve (BRMNAP) by Valerie Huelsman

After seeing and picking off so many ticks at Merrimac Farm I was intrigued to investigate tick populations in a different environment. BRMNAP is a beautiful preserve in the western edge of the county dominated by hardwood forests with popular hiking trails traversing the mountains. For my tick surveillance project, I use a technique called “flagging”, using a flannel cloth to collect hungry questing ticks at eight sites around the preserve. So far tick counts have been pretty low--just 11 ticks over 6 months! Although low, the collections still provide an interesting look at seasonality of species distribution and preferred habitat. When I have more free time I’m hoping to repeat the same procedure at Merrimac where I anticipate finding a far more abundant population.

Interested in learning more about ticks? Tick Encounter is one of my favorite resources with great pictures and tips and an option to send in photos for ID verification. Keep up the tick checks when you’re out in the field and yard and feel free to get in touch if you’d like to join me on my monthly tick excursions.

Working on a project? Please tell us so we can share it with other master naturalists..

Conway Robinson and Manassas Battlefield Interpretive and Stewardship Project

Merrimac Farm master naturalists met with staff from Conway Robinson State Forest, the Manassas Battlefield National Park and the Cooperative Extension Service to plan our efforts to develop material for a website, interpretive trails and stewardship projects.

Right now, Merrimac Farm member Andrea Kinder needs volunteers to clear invasive plants on some trail sections. Please contact her at if you’re interested.

At the September meeting we graduated our newest Basic Training Class. Congratulations! We awarded one of those graduates, Candice Lowther (right), a scholarship for the Basic Training Course, funded by the Virginia Lakes and Watersheds Association. Candice started the course in mid-April and by the end of May already had earned her 40 hours for certification working with Dave Larsen on the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas.

Virginia Master Naturalists Statewide Conference by Lisa Matthews

The Virginia Master Naturalists conference was a great success! Rappahannock Chapter provided us with treat bags on our field trips, fun activities in the evenings and even free showers (it rained a lot)! The field trips were so fun and informative and the classes were taught by very entertaining instructors. The best part? We made connections with other chapter members and we have even started on projects that we can work together in cross chapter cooperation. We had a display table highlighting our chapter’s exploits for the last year, a video and a lesson about the color blue. Two of our photographers were honored with awards. Make a plan to come and make friends next year, September 20-22, 2019 near Harrisonburg, VA. Check out the fun:

Congratulations to Judy Gallagher who won third place with her Passion Flower photo

Rosemarie Nielsen who won first place with her photo of the raging Potomac River

Basic Training Course (BTC) Winter Schedule

The next Basic Training course starts in January. A course schedule and flyers are at the VMN Volunteer Management System. If you can, print out and post flyers at libraries and other places with community bulletin boards. Click on theNewsletter/Documents link in the left-hand column.


Habitat Network” - Megan Whatton, October 11, 7:30pm – 9:00pm, Green Springs Horticultural Center, Alexandria.

Learn about the “Habitat Network,” a free online platform to explore how our collective efforts to transform yards and urban landscapes into more diverse habitat can support wildlife and connect people to nature. Presented by Potowmack Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society.

Hometown Heroes” Habitat Facilitator Workshop: Rain Gardens & Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat at the Stone House – October 26, 2018, 9am - 4pm

Still some openings left for our Train the Trainers session led by Carol Heiser, Habitat Education Coordinator for Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

The workshop’s intent is to train Master Naturalist volunteers who are willing to help renovate the rain garden at the Merrimac Farm Stone House or plan and conduct programs at Merrimac Farm about the importance of native plants (or do both).

The day will include a combination of presentations, guided field walk around the Stone House, and small group discussions. We’ll survey the rain garden to see what plants are still there, and then work on a plan to improve and update the planting. We'll also talk about how to use the grounds at Merrimac Farm for a variety of educational programs and brainstorm strategies that promote using native plants for wildlife habitat and water quality.

The workshop is FREE, but you must attend the FULL day to receive all materials and a certificate of completion. It will be held RAIN OR SHINE, so dress for the weather. LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED at Merrimac Farm. Sign up at

See the latest Monday News for full information.

See the General Event Calendar for a complete list of events. And if there is any Chapter-approved project you would like to participate in, contact us at A list of projects is in VMN Volunteer Management page. Click on “Add New Hours” and the “Select a Project” drop down menu.


bottom of page