From time-to-time, ARMN’s Membership Committee posts profiles of our members including how they came to be master naturalists, which parts of nature they most enjoy, and how they have an impact on the environment around them. Here is the latest biography of Arlington staff employee, Sarah Archer, who graduated in the Fall 2013 ARMN training class. Sarah currently manages Arlington’s Invasive Plant Program and is involved with starting the County’s native plant nursery. She is a valuable collaborator for ARMN on a wide variety of projects.
Tell us about the ARMN projects you spend time on.
I have been able to participate in many ARMN projects over the years, but my favorite has to be the restoration of the Barcroft Magnolia Bog. The success of this project was due to all of the great work done by ARMN members. Marion Jordan, Jim Hurley, Marty Nielson, and others were instrumental in building momentum around the restoration work through community outreach to nearby homeowners and Claremont Elementary School. We received an award from the Virginia Association of Counties for this project because of the collaboration between county staff and groups like ARMN.
I am also really excited about Arlington’s new Native Plant Nursery . We usually have workdays at the nursery every Thursday from 3 – 5 pm. I am also involved with the RiP/ARMN supported invasive plant removal events at Tuckahoe, Ft. Bennett, Madison Manor, Long Branch, Gulf Branch, and Haley/Oakridge/Gunston (“HOG”) parks. These events are led by our ARMN volunteer site leaders and are great opportunities for community volunteers to learn about invasive plant identification and removal techniques. I am always amazed at how much drive and passion the site leaders have to act as stewards for their neighborhood parks!
Earth Day 2014, at an Arlington park. Sarah is second from the right.
What brought you to ARMN?/How did you learn about ARMN?
The first time I heard about the Master Naturalist program was from my mom when she took the training in Illinois. I was lucky to get the opportunity to take the ARMN course when they needed an Arlington staff member to open and close building during the training sessions.
What do you like most about ARMN?
I really appreciate the strong relationships that ARMN builds with their partner groups and how informed and motivated the volunteers are! Arlington County wouldn’t be able to do many of our natural resource conservation and restoration projects without the support of community groups, particularly ARMN. ARMN volunteers do so much for Arlington’s Parks and Natural Resources Division including not just invasive plant removal, but education and outreach, project planning, surveying, planting, nursery work, etc. It’s a pretty long list of all of the different types of volunteer projects ARMN participates in. The ARMN membership is so diverse in expertise and interests that they can support almost any project that we have!
Tell us something about your childhood/adulthood experiences that shaped your perspective on nature.
I was a Girl Scout in elementary school and really enjoyed all of the outdoor activities like camping and hiking. I actually pulled my first invasive plant, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), when I was in Girl Scouts! I didn’t really get interested in pursuing a nature-related career until I joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in 2007 after I graduated from Illinois State University (ISU), and did several internships with SCA related to environmental restoration.
What is your background?
During college, I worked with a native plant landscaping company and was a gardener for a few private residents during my summers off. In 2007, I received undergraduate degrees in dance and anthropology from ISU. After college, I went to California to work for the Bureau of Land Management as an SCA intern and then worked on a trail crew on the Pacific Crest Trail. In 2008, I moved to Maryland with another SCA internship with the Nature Conservancy, and managed invasive plants in the Potomac Gorge.
I began working with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation in 2009 and received a master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech in 2012.
What would other ARMN members find interesting about the non-ARMN parts of your life?
I enjoy many types of social dance, including square, salsa, blues, and kizomba. In college, I performed as a “koken” in a Kabuki production of Othello under the direction of Shozo Sato, an internationally renowned Japanese theater director.
Sarah doing a fan dance (not Kabuki, but close).
I also love international travel and have a trip planned to Peru, Argentina, and Uruguay over the Christmas holidays!