Sunday, November 24, 2019

Become a Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer in 2020!

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of VMN are recruiting volunteers for the basic training course that starts in February 2020.  Our chapter has many projects, including Monitoring Water Quality, Adopt a Trail, Stewardship Programs, Eco Camps, Wildlife Mapping and Bluebird Nest Monitoring.
Bald Knob Clean Up Crew
About VMN:
Virginia Master Naturalists are a statewide corps of volunteers that work with state agencies to provide education, outreach, and service.
The training class is held locally and includes classroom and field sessions led by expert naturalists, scientists, and natural resource managers.  Topics include trees, birds, insects, stream ecology, geology, reptiles, forest management and more!
Stream monitoring
Contact us:
For more information or to register for the course, contact us by e-mail at  Be sure to register by January 31st, as seating is limited!  Please also visit our blog, website and Facebook page listed below:

Bluebird Trail Project
BLOG:  WEBSITE: and find our Facebook page:  Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalist

The Virginia Master Naturalist program is open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Virginia Master Naturalist Laurels - Fall 2019

Kathy S with future master naturalists!

Check out VMN members from around the state being recognized for contributions to the VMN mission. Especially note the third recognition in the article linked below, BRFAL’s own ECO Camp and its director, Kathy Scott! Kathy and this year’s 18-member team are being recognized for ECO Camp, a multi-day nature experience for Franklin County and Smith Mountain Lake area children and their parents. 

This July’s camp featured six Saturday morning sessions across 3 weeks including the diverse topics of digital photography of nature, an introduction to the sounds made by area birds, creek health, how animals use their senses, the creatures that lurk under those rocks in the stream, and the monarch butterfly life cycle and miraculous migration.
Photographing Nature with Rich and Meg
Eco Camp takes place at Booker T. Washington National Monument (BTWNM) which co-sponsors the camp each year. Kathy, an indefatigable and enthusiastic BRFAL member, led the project for the fifth year.  Eighteen chapter members helped things flow smoothly from conception of the program, publicity in newspapers and at local libraries, registration, teaching the sessions, and ensuring the safety and happiness of the participants. Many BRFAL members participated on several weekends and in several different capacities.  

This year’s Eco-Camp set a record by providing a creative, fun, hands-on learning experience for 58 kids and 21 adults. Congratulations, Kathy and all, on this well deserved recognition!
Get ready to volunteer for next year!

Monday, October 28, 2019

2019 Virginia Citizens for Water Quality Summit

Geoff, Connie and Charlotte with DIY monitoring equipment

The 2019 Virginia Citizens for Water Quality Summit (VCWQ) was held October 19, at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA. BRFAL was represented by Save our Stream (SOS) monitors Connie Hylton, Geoff Orth and Charlotte Hubbard. Carolyn Thomas and Bob Polad also attended as it related to their work monitoring water quality in Smith Mountain and Philpott Lakes.

Morning presentations included advances in monitoring equipment, the value of citizen science to Virginia DEQ, details on a couple of successful Chesapeake Bay Watershed initiatives and how to diversify funding for water quality work.

I was impressed to learn that the Save Our Streams program is 100 % grant funded! James Beckley of the Virginia DEQ was an active presenter during the morning and presented two of the afternoon concurrent sessions: “Updated Virginia Bacteria Criteria” and “DIY Monitoring Equipment.” There were multiple contributors from the Izaak Walton League who added a great deal of information and professional perspective. 

Check out the whole agenda and the presentation PowerPoints on the VCWQ Meetings page

Monday, October 14, 2019

Well deserved recognition

Two longstanding members of BRFAL were recognized at the August 25 summer picnic. Guy Buford and Don Kelso were designated, by action of the Board, as the first lifetime members of BRFAL. Both Guy and Don were essential to the formation of the chapter, ensuring the necessary structure, education and continuing development led to the group meeting all requirements of Virginia Master Naturalist Program. Since then Guy and Don continue to contribute greatly to BRFAL’s success.

Thank you for your service to Virginia Master Naturalists, BRFAL and our community!
Guy Buford, Lifetime BRFAL Member