Although there were activities earlier on Friday, we did not arrive in time for them, but after dinner on Friday, we all joined in a “meet and greet” where each of the chapters set up a display showing some interesting facts about their chapters. Although I just may be prejudiced, I think ours was the best. We had mocked up an eMammal camera trap kit affixed to an actual section of an oak tree. We displayed a number of our best eMammal pictures as well as a description of the project. We received many questions and compliments about our display.
Saturday was reserved for indoor classroom advanced training. There were a number of selections to choose from. I took the “Reaching New Audiences” concerning member diversity and “Vernal Pools”. These were both quite interesting, but there were many other topics including Keeping Bears Wild, Honeybees, the Gateway Bug and Build-A-Study from Citizen Science Projects.
On Saturday evening our dinner included Keynote Speaker Dr. Caren Cooper who gave an enlightening and enjoyable presentation about how Citizen Science is shaping our approach to research. In addition, one of our own, Jean Borgman, won the scavenger hunt contest and was presented with a copy of the huge “Flora of Virginia” books.
On Sunday, the venue changed to a more natural setting at Pocahontas State Park. Although there were a number of interesting outdoor activities, I think I selected the best: Birding by Canoe or in my case by kayak since no one wanted to get in a canoe with me. The morning greeted us with fairly cold temps, fog on the lake and a bright rising sun burning through the fog. We got to see some nice avian friends including a bald eagle, red tailed hawk, wood ducks, eastern phoebes, several types of woodpeckers and of course great blue herons.
The conference must be considered a success. A record 200+ VMN’s attended. BRFAL alone had 10 members in attendance. Next year’s conference will be held in Newport News the last weekend in September. You may want to mark it on your calendar. I have included some pictures from the conference below.
A little break for lunch