Friday, January 9, 2015

Do you DRBA?

Now's your chance!
DRBA First Saturday Outing Hike and Tour at Reynolds Homestead 

Feb 7, 2014
Reynolds Homestead
463 Homestead Lane, Critz, VA 24082
(GPS 36.640596, -80.146542)

Free and open to the public

Meet at Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia for a one-mile loop hike and tours of the historic house and grounds. 

 Bring lunch, water, and hiking stick, and wear hiking boots or walking shoes. Dress in layers of synthetic fabric or wool; be prepared for wind or rain.

 Contact: Wayne Kirkpatrick via email here,  or 540-570-3511 for more information. 

More from DRBA if you find yourself looking for a fun country drive...

Eden River Wildlife Photographic Display!
The public is invited to the opening of the "Eden River Wildlife" Photographic Display to be be held in Eden City Town Hall on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 5 pm. The exhibit features wildlife found along the Smith and Dan Rivers in the City of Eden and is made possible with support from REI and DRBA members.

Click here to learn more. 


This New Year, Resolve to Support Clean and Healthy Rivers!
Adopting a trout or tree provides the satisfaction of knowing you are inspiring future generations of river advocates or ensuring better water quality and a cleaner tomorrow for local waterways.
Please click here to learn more and to adopt today!

DRBA stands for Dan River Basin Association learn more about them here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2015 Spring Basic Training Application

Virginia Master Naturalist Program - Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter
Spring 2015

To Potential Applicant:

Thank you for your interest in applying to be a Virginia Master Naturalist through the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter (BRFAL) training program.  Plans are underway to offer the training program beginning on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

The BRFAL training program is designed to prepare individuals as Certified Virginia Master Naturalists for the statewide corps of master naturalist volunteers carrying out the Virginia Master Naturalist Program mission of “providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities”.  As such, it will provide the background knowledge and opportunity for skill development necessary to be effective as a volunteer Certified Virginia Master Naturalist.

To become a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist, a trainee must:
·        Complete 40 hours of basic training, which includes a minimum of 25% time in the field;
·        Pass the open-book training assessment with a score of 70% or higher;
·        Complete 8 hours of approved advanced training designed to focus volunteer efforts on one or more specific topics of interest; and
·        Complete a minimum of 40 hours of service in a BRFAL approved project within 12 months of the completion of the basic training program.

To maintain certification, each Virginia Master Naturalist must complete an additional 8 hours of advanced training and 40 hours of service annually.

BRFAL’s training sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6:00pm to 9:00 pm, beginning  March 4, 2015  and finishing May 6, 2015, in The Franklin Center in Rocky Mount (behind the Franklin County Library).  There will also be some Saturday sessions for field trips.  The location of Saturday field sessions will vary based on the topic being presented.  Trainees may not miss more than 2 classes, and all missed sessions must be made up by attending the appropriate class(es) within 12 months of the completion of training. 

The cost of the program, including materials, is $125.  This fee also entitles each participant to a one-year membership in the BRFAL Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program. Registration opens up to applicants on January 5, 2015. Because of limited seating, the deadline for submitting applications is February 16, 2015.  The BRFAL Application Committee will notify all applicants of the status of their application.  Applicants accepted for the training program must send a check for $125 (payable to BRFAL) to be received at the address below not later than February 25, 2015, one week before the beginning of the class.  A minimum of 10 students is required to hold these training classes; enrollment by fewer than 10 will likely result in the class being cancelled and monies refunded.

If you wish to apply for the Spring 2015 basic training program, please complete and mail the attached application form  (along with the course fee of $125 if you choose to do so at this time) to:

Virginia Master Naturalists
Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter
P.O. Box 42
Wirtz, VA 24184
ATTN:  Application Committee

BRFAL generally holds monthly meetings on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm.  The meeting place alternates between Rocky Mount (in the Franklin Center), and the Westlake area of Smith Mountain Lake (in the Smith Mountain Lake Association office on Scruggs Road, in Moneta).  In general, in even months the meetings are held in Westlake and in odd months in Rocky Mount.  Please feel free, if you are interested in joining the program, to attend any of these meetings.  We try to have guest speakers throughout the year and you are certainly welcome to these meetings, as well as our regular business meetings.

For other questions about the Virginia Master Naturalist Program and/or BRFAL Chapter, please call (540) 365-4613.


Virginia Master Naturalist Program
Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter
Volunteer Information and Enrollment Form
2015 Application
A.  GENERAL INFORMATION (please print)

Name:          ______________________________________________________________________
               (Last, First, MI)

Mailing Address: _____________________________________________________________________

                               (Street, Box, Route, Apt #)


                             (City, State, Zip)


County or Independent City of Residence: ______________________________________                             


Phone (please indicate which phone number is preferred):

            Home   ______________________                         Cell  ______________________                

Work     ______________________

E-mail: ______________________________________________________________________________
Emergency Contact:  Name ______________________________________________________________
Phone:  ___________________________________ Day  _______________________________ Evening


1.  Certification as a Master Naturalist requires 40 hrs. of volunteer service. Below are some of the ways those hours may be obtained. Please indicate your interests below (we realize your ideas may change).
1. Are you interested in education/outreach opportunities?    Yes     Maybe     No     No Idea
(eg. classroom presentations, staffing a booth, nature walks)

2. Are you interested in Citizen Science opportunities?          Yes     Maybe    No      No Idea
(eg. Stream monitoring, wildlife mapping, hawk watch, bird counts)

3. Are you interested in stewardship opportunities?                Yes     Maybe   No       No Idea
(eg. Trail building, stream cleanups, native plant rescues, invasive plant removal, and habitat restoration)       

2.  When are you available to volunteer and participate in VMN activities? (seasons of the year, days of the week, time of day)

3. Tell us about your previous volunteer experience (use back if necessary).

4. Do you have a particular topic that you are interested in or knowledgeable about, and/or do you have experience or education in a natural science or environmental field?

5. Do you have any hobbies related to master naturalist subjects, e.g., birding, hiking, mushroom hunting, butterfly watching, etc.?

6. How did you find out about Virginia Master Naturalist program? Do you know any master naturalists?

The following information is required for all Virginia Master Naturalist State Program volunteers.

4.  DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION (Optional, for record keeping purposes only)
Gender:   (  ) Female                                      
               (  )  Male                                Date of Birth: ________________________________
Race:                                                                    (must be 18 or accompanied by an adult if 14-17)
     (  )  White                              (  )  Hispanic          
     (  )  African American             (  )  Asian                         
     (  )  American Indian               (  )  Multi-Racial                          
5.  REFERENCES (no family members)

1.         Name:_______________________________   Relationship____________________________
Phone (Day)__________________________   (Evening)______________________________

2.         Name:_______________________________   Relationship____________________________
Phone (Day)__________________________   (Evening)______________________________


3.         Name:_______________________________   Relationship____________________________
Phone (Day)__________________________   (Evening)_______________________________



                                                                                          Yes              No
Do you have a current and valid driver’s license?                  □                  □
If yes, issued in the state of _________________
Do you have a current commercial driver’s license (CDL)?     □                  □
Do you currently have the minimum vehicle insurance
coverage as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia?       □                  □



(This information is required by the State Master Naturalist Program and will be kept in a confidential manner and accessible only to authorized personnel.  A “yes” answer does not automatically exclude you from becoming a registered volunteer.)

Have you ever had any criminal convictions related to:
Yes              No
a. alcohol or drug abuse?           □                  □
b. child abuse or neglect?           □                  □
c. spousal abuse?                       □                  □
d. elder abuse or neglect?           □                  □
Have you ever been convicted
of any violation(s) of law?                           □                  □

If volunteering for a position that
requires the operation of a vehicle, have you
been convicted of any moving traffic
violations within the last 5 years?           □                  □

If “yes” to any of the above, please describe.

I understand that records and criminal background or reference checks may be conducted on me at any time during the application process or during volunteer service for the Virginia Master Naturalist Program.

____________________________________________                 ____________________________________
Signature, Volunteer                                                                             Date
I understand that I am a volunteer for the Virginia Master Naturalist Program and will receive no financial compensation or benefits for assistance rendered in any capacity.
I agree to abide by all policies and procedures of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program and its sponsoring agencies.
I understand that I am responsible for my personal injuries and illness while participating in this program, and that I will hold the program and all joint and sponsoring agencies harmless.  I understand that my chapter adviser may file a claim for my injuries with the Virginia Division of Risk Management.  If accepted, I understand that I or my insurance company may be fully or partially reimbursed.  I understand that a claim filed with the Virginia Division of Risk Management does not guarantee acceptance or reimbursement.
I understand that the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital and family status.

_____________________________________  _____________________
                    Signature, Volunteer                              Date

_____________________________________  _____________________            __________
                    Signature, Chapter Advisor                    Agency                                       Date


Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Master Naturalist Program periodically use photographs or video or audio footage or testimonials of program participants for local, regional, or state publicity or educational purposes.  By my signature on this Volunteer Information form, I acknowledge receipt of this document and give permission for Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Master Naturalist Program to use such reproductions for educational and publicity purposes.


________________________________________                           ___________________
                        Signature, Volunteer                                                   Date

Please print and complete this form, sign it in the 3 indicated fields, and return it to:

Virginia Master Naturalist
Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter
P.O. Box 42
Wirtz, VA 24184
ATTN:  Application Committee

The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is sponsored jointly by Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2nd Thursday Science Talk at VMNH

2nd Thursday Science Talk at VMNH

December 11, 2014
Virginia Museum of Natural History
21 Starling Avenue, Martinsville, VA 24112 

This event is free and open to the public

 The state fish of Virginia is the brook trout, a native species that requires cold waters.  In this presentation titled "Stream Temperatures as a Guide to Restoring Habitat for Virginia's State Fish," Dr. Thomas Benzing of James Madison University will describe his current research on water temperatures in Shenandoah Valley streams including the South River.  For the past seven years, Dr. Benzing has monitored and analyzed stream temperatures for the purpose of guiding collaborative efforts to restore trout habitat and manage a recreational fishery on the South River in Waynesboro and Augusta County. 

Website for VMNH here

Other Science Talks coming up:

January 8, 2015
Dr. Noel Boaz, President, Integrative Centers for 
Science and Medicine

February 11, 2015 (WEDNESDAY)
Live broadcast in the Lecture Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Awards taking place in Richmond.

March 12, 2015
Dr. Kaloyan Ivanov, VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates

April 9, 2015
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, VMNH Curator of Archaeology

May 14, 2015*
Dr. Nancy Moncrief, VMNH Curator of Mammalogy

*VMNH Members are invited to attend a reception following the final presentation on May 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. celebrating the completion of the 2014-2015 “2nd Thursday Science Talks.”  The reception will be held in the museum’s Harvest Foundation Hall of Ancient Life, and will provide an opportunity for VMNH Members to meet and interact with all presenters.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wood Duck Box Inspection at Smith Mountain Lake State Park

On December 3rd a crack team of wood duck box specialists from the BRFAL Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists was dispatched to the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake State Park with the mission of inspecting as many wood duck boxes as possible for any signs of wood duck residency (or any other critters), effect any minor repairs to the boxes and reconfirm GPS locations of the boxes.

The team was comprised of Dick LeRoy, Dick Hendrix, Rick Watson, Jim Pilversack, Glenn Sieman, Carl Boast and his wife Linda and your faithful author, Rich Brager. When we arrived at the park we were met by several Park employees including Dave Gunnells, Cliff Goodwin and Jet Lawler. We broke into 3 teams, each team with certain of the 12 wood duck boxes we hoped to visit.

Well how did we do? We dun good. With the exception of one wood duck box and post that was completely missing, we managed to find and inspect 11 of the 12 boxes. Some minor repairs were done, some major repairs will be required in the future. All GPS locations were verified.

The worst part of our mission was that no sign of wood ducks could be verified. The best part of the visit was making new friends at the State Park. As a matter of fact, some State Park folks will be visiting us during our January BRFAL meeting to discuss some exciting opportunities for our members in the future.

Here are a few pix from our day:

This isn't Jim waving.  This is box #4 with broken bottom latch.

 Whoops, box 9 with only back of box remaining.

Guess which box number this is.

Aha! Signs of a freeloader in box 8, probably a screech owl.

Box 12 in need of repair.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birds of a Feather Flock Together!

We are thrilled to see that the BRFAL "Christmas for the Critters" tree not only got our vote in the Parade of Trees at Mariners Landing, but it inspired a family to follow suit!
They wrote:
After visiting and voting for the "BRFAL Christmas for Critters Tree" at the parade of trees our family came immediately home and decorated a tree right outside the dining room window.  We were quickly rewarded with a winter flock coming to dine."
Thank you Desnise P for sharing these photos and info with us, as it has made our day.
Please VOTE for our tree -  the birds will thank you, and we thank you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas for the Critters Part 2 & something that might shock you!

More photos from the day of decorating the Christmas for the Critters Tree for the Parade of Trees at Mariners Landing.
What started out as a simple chopped down invasive species became a beautiful "Christmas for the Critters" Tree!
Front Row L - R: Dick H, Meg B, Linda B. Back Row: St Nick, Shellie L and Kathy S. Charlotte H was with us in spirit due to all the fun ornaments she made!

A close up shot of some of our ornaments, this nifty Noel was made by Dick H.
Many hands made fun work!

The biggest bird's nest was placed in front of the tree on the burlap skirt
We had all sorts of wildlife enticing treats on the Critter Tree
Remember everyone, mum is the word on the "fun" we had!
Running cedar made a neat garland
Whoever wins the bid on this tree will have an immediate smorgasbord outside their house for happy critters!
We had all sorts of cool stuff for this Critter Tree, natural and food stuffs
The critters even have some snack items like pretzels and ritz crackers
The natural touch of burlap was used as a tree skirt

BRFAL information table and sign up sheet if anyone wants more info about our Virginia Master Naturalist Chapter
Oddly enough we found Santa sings Karaoke in the off season, so we enlisted his help with our tree. But we think he is used to the elves doing all the work, because instead of working he insisted on singing his rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" Who knew there were so many stanzas?
We cannot reveal anything else to you, since he is in the St Nicklaus Protection Program (in Jersey they will bust your knees for less information)
Our Chapter could win $300 and you could win a cool gift basket.