By John Bernard and Jim Hurley
The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN) had our monthly Board meeting and end-of-year Chapter meeting on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at the Fairlington Community Center. The Chapter meeting also included an art show and party. Over 60 people attended, including at least 54 ARMN members.
ARMN members brought and displayed their artwork which included photograph porfolios and other creations. After the business meeting, there was time for socializing with lots of goodies
Caroline Haynes, ARMN President, recognized numerous newly certified and recertified ARMN members for completing the minimum 40 hours of service and 8 hours of advanced training in 2012.
Erik Oberg, National Park Service (NPS) Ranger and Biologist, presented the George and Helen Hartzog Award plaque for Outstanding Volunteer Group to the ARMN Board. The Hartzog Award was awarded to ARMN on October 17, 2012 by the Eastern Capital Region of NPS.
The Hartzog Award recognizes volunteers for their hard work, skills, involvement, and contributions to innovative projects. ARMN members and other volunteers have given 2,600 hours of service to the George Washington Memorial Parkway since the partnership began in 2009. Opportunities to volunteer with the Park Service are described on its website. The NPS and ARMN relationship is a great example of the meaningful results that can be achieved by effective partnerships between government agencies and non-profit groups.
Jim Hurley, ARMN Vice President and Chair of the Service Committee, reported on various ARMN focus projects and accomplishments in 2012.
The first focus project was habitat restoration work and invasive species removal at Arlington County’s Barcroft Park. With partners organizations such as Tree Stewards and Virginia Native Plant Society, there were 20 work sessions in 2011-2012 with most of them followed by an hour or more of training on the rich natural history in the park. Arlington County funded contract work to treat a full range of invasive species such as English Ivy, transforming the park. With the contractor scheduled to perform follow-up treatment in 2013, ARMN’s role will likely change in Barcroft Park in 2013.
ARMN also works with Earth Sangha, a non-profit native plant nursery, whose work includes forests and meadow restoration, streams stabilization, and invasive plant control. The Wild Plant Sursery in Springfield, Virginia is the heart of Earth Sangha’s work. Seeds are collected from over 200 species of native trees, shrubs, vines, and grasses in local woods and meadows. Volunteers plant seeds, repot plants, maintain growing beds, assist with spring and fall plant sales. Seeds are cleaned in January and February at Long Branch Nature Center and then planted in the spring on restoration projects including the Meadowood Recreation Area and Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In 2013, ARMN and Earth Sangha plan to partner to restore a natural area near a Title I elementary school in Arlington as a teaching tool for students and their parents.
Audubon at Home (AAH) is a program of Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) which encourages homeowners to plant native species in their yards to enrich habitat for wildlife. AAH is a practical way to market and implement native habitat value. In 2012 ARMN conducted several practice consultations at homes of ARMN members and friends, using AAH methodology. In 2013 ARMN will do more of this exciting work by making AAH a focus project. Volunteer help will be needed with outreach and marketing; disseminating information to homeowners, neighborhood and condominium associations; or staffing farmers market tables. Volunteers can become AAH ambassadors by learning AAH’s approach to consulting with homeowners. Volunteers can also become “clients” of the program, improving the quality of the habitat in their own yards.
Planted in the fall of 2011, the Native Plant Garden at Potomac Overlook Regional Park (PORP) is in its second year, and it showcases some 25 species of native plants that offer habitat and aesthetic value. The garden had a good first year, with support from volunteers and park staff. 2013 goals include improvements to signage and educational materials, improved measures to discourage deer marauding, and hosting events for the public. Native garden volunteer opportunities will include garden maintenance, educational talks and tours. PORP also provides an outreach opportunity to ARMN volunteers called “Meet me on a Sunday”. MMOS volunteers staff tables focused on various areas of natural history on Sundays from 1:30 – 3:30 pm outside the Nature Center. Volunteers work with the Nature Center staff to develop displays in their areas of interest, or use a range of interpretive materials already created by PORP staff and ARMN. These include information boxes created by ARMN volunteers on the Native Plant Garden and invasive plants.
ARMN will be offering a Spring 2013 Basic Training Course, beginning February 26, 2013. The Course will run for 14 weeks on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 – 10:00pm at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Field training will be scheduled on four Saturdays (specific dates not yet finalized) during the course. Please visit www.armn.org/apply/ for additional information and the application. Applications are due by January 31, 2013.
Photos by John Bernard.