Headwaters Master Naturalists April 2017 Newsletter
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Shenandoah - the Untold Stories Behind the "Impossible" Park Tuesday, April 4, 12PM. Ice House, 127 W. Bruce St., Harrisonburg. Part of the JMU Lifelong Learning Institute Brown Bag Lunch Series, presented by Virginia Master Naturalist Jim Lawson. More HERE

Wildflowers of the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU for HMNs
Thursday, April 6, 5:30- 7PM.
 Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU, 780 University Blvd., Harrisonburg. Arboretum director Jan Mahon will lead a guided wildlflower walk of the arboretum. More below. Approved for HMN CE.

Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird
Thursday, April 6, 7PM
. Detwiler Auditorium, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center, 1501 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg. Rockingham Bird Club monthly meeting featuring author Katie Fallon presenting on "the life and times of the noble turkey vulture, including its feeding, nesting, and roosting habits, migratory behaviors, and common misconceptions."

Wild and Scenic Film Festival
Thursday, April 6, 7PM in Harrisonburg. Monday, April 30, 7PM in Staunton.
Hosted by Wild Virginia, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival brings together a selection of films that tell stories about our planet, our beautiful and precious wildlands, and the people of the communities who love them. More HERE.

Birding in the ‘Burg for HMNs
Saturday, April 8, 8:30-10AM.
Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg. HMN and Rockingham Bird Club member Kathy Byers will lead a guided bird walk in Hillandale Park. More below. Approved for HMN CE.

Southern Pine Beetle Biology, Ecology, and Management Webinar Wednesday, April 19, 1PM. Online. Presented by John Nowak, USDA Forest Service, Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program Manager, for the Southern Regional Extension Forestry Forest Health Program. Details HERE. Approved for HMN CE.

Starry Nights 
Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22. Shenandoah National Park and Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg. Two nights of activities focused on keeping our night sky dark and the effects on us and the environment as we lose the night. More below and HERE.

HMN Annual Wildflower Walks on Shenandoah Mountain
Saturday, April 29, 9:30AM and 1PM.
 Three sites to choose from: Hone Quarry, North River Gorge and Braley Pond. More below and HERE.

Birds of the 'Burg Guided Bird Walks for Children & Families Saturday, May 6, 8:30-10:00AM. Shelter #12, Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg. This is the third year for this recurring event encouraging families to get outside and enjoy nature. Held the first Saturday of every month April - October except for July. Supported by the Shenandoah Group of the VA Sierra Club and the Rockingham Bird Club. Led by HMN Kathy Byers, 540-820-6517.

South Fork Shenandoah River Raft Trip for HMNs
Sunday, May 7, 12-6PM.
VDGIF’s Island Ford boat landing. Rafting trip for HMNs from Island Ford to Elkton. More below. Approved for HMN CE.

HMN Signature Annual Event
Celebrating Spring by sharing the beauty and diversity on our backyard mountain

Spread the word!  Free registration for the three walks is open through our website or HERE.

If you are interested in volunteering to help on the day of the walks, sign up through the VMN-VMS website or contact Chip:
Register for Shenandoah Mtn Wildflower Walks
Three Spring Field Trips with CE Available

The following field trips, created for our current training class, still have some openings available if you would like to join them. 

Ready to sign up? Questions or concerns? Call or email me ~ Kate,, 540-350- 2824
Wildflowers of the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU

Come learn about the spring botanicals at our local arboretum!

The only arboretum located on a public university campus in Virginia, the Arboretum is a haven in the middle of urban growth and development, a place where nature can be honored, appreciated, protected, and studied. The Arboretum is a center for the conservation, enjoyment, and interpretation of plants and ecosystems of the Shenandoah Valley, and serves as an outdoor biology laboratory and environmental educational center.

Want to see a preview of the types of wildflowers in the arboretum? Check it out HERE!
  • DATE: Thursday, April 6, 5:30- 7PM.  RAINDATE: Thursday, April 13, 5:30-7PM.
  • LOCATION: Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU, 780 University Blvd., Harrisonburg. Parking available in Plecker Center parking lot and on University Blvd.
  • BRING: Raincoat and good walking shoes, Newcomb’s Guide to Wildflowers (optional).
  • PRESENTER: Jan Sievers Mahon, Director of the EJC Arboretum at JMU

Birding in the ‘Burg

Join an ornithology expedition in Hillandale Park. This 74 acre park has a 1.3 mile walking trail and also marks the entrance to the Rocktown Bike Trails. Come start to get a grip on the avian locals and migrants that come alive in spring!
  • DATE: Saturday, April 8, 8:30-10AM. RAINDATE: None. Severe weather will cancel.
  • LOCATION: Hillandale Park Shelter # 12, 801 Hillandale Ave, Harrisonburg
  • BRING: Binoculars, bird field guides.
  • PRESENTER: HMN Kathy Byers

South Fork Shenandoah River Raft Trip

We will be meeting next to the South Fork at a public boat landing on a beautiful spring day for a float trip from Island Ford to Elkton. This is about a 6.5 mile float that should take around four hours or so (flow depending) to complete. After a safety briefing by Derek, we will climb into six-person rafts and begin our journey downstream. The purpose of the rafts (versus canoes or kayaks) is to engender conversation and camaraderie. There will be ample time to converse about history, culture, biology and a hundred other topics within each raft.

The river brings out conversation in the quietest of us. Bird watching, mammal spotting (think mink) and botanical observations will take place continuously. We will make a couple of stops to talk about the fishery and aquatic biology. The afternoon will go by fast and you will be relaxed and informed when we reach Elkton. What a deal!

There is a $35 fee for this trip per person to cover part of the rental costs. Checks can be made out to Outdoor Adventure Experiences or OAE Inc.
  • DATE: Sunday, May 7, 12 - 6PM.  RAINDATE: None. 
  • LOCATION: Meet at VDGIF’s Island Ford boat landing, Directions available on the VMN VMS calendar entry for this event.
  • BRING: Bring your lunch. Bring water shoes, appropriate dress for a variety of weather conditions over many hours, water to drink, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, hat, camera, binoculars. Life jackets and dry bags will be provided.
  • POSSIBLE HAZARDS: All hazards associated with water: hypothermia, drowning, hidden risks under water, exposure to polluted water, sun exposure, insect bites.
  • PRESENTERS: Paul Bugas, our HMN Advisor; Derek Young with OAE
Training Class Visits the Forest Trails Loop

On Saturday, March 25th, the current Headwaters Master Naturalist Training Class met at Buckhorn Inn for a scouting field trip of part of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Forest Trails Loop of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, which they are adopting as their class project. 

More about this from Sandy Greene and photos from Deb Pugh HERE.
The HMN-adopted North River Loop of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is entering its second year and Phase II of monitoring. VDGIF Adopt-A-Trail Organizer Jessica Ruthenberg and HMN Coordinator for this project Sandy Greene have updates and tips for participants in this project HERE.
Night Skies 

Shanil Virani, Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University and Assistant Professor in the JMU Department of Physics and Astronomy, provided a captivating two hour program at the planetarium for Headwaters Master Naturalists and other invited guests on Sunday evening, March 5. 

More about this and the related night hike on March 8 from Malcolm Cameron HERE.


Starry Nights Harrisonburg: Saturday, April 22

Night Walk in Hillandale Park Led by Chip Brown and other naturalists from the Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, come enjoy a walk in a city park to explore nature at night. Families welcome, children must be accompanied by an adult. Activities include: animal adaptation to night, effects of light pollution on night time critters, solutions to light pollution, star gazing, and more! Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg  8:00 -- 10:00 pm. - See more about the Starry Nights programs hosted by the John C. Wells Planetarium at JMU HERE

Any and all volunteers are welcome! Sign up to help out by contacting Chip at, or through the VMN-VMS website.
Tree Planting at Marl Creek Trail

Four Headwater Master Naturalists joined forester Charlie Huppuch in early March to do work on the Marl Creek Trail at McCormick Farm in Raphine, VA. Sandy Greene, Sue Gier, Janet James and Peggy Plass braved the spring mud to plant several dozen young trees--including silky dogwoods, white oak, and mulberry--along the banks of the creek.

Keeping up with expanding the area planted and replacing the young trees is a significant part of the management of the Interpretive Trail, and Headwaters Master Naturalists have participated in the upkeep of the site for several years. The Spring planting event is always a festive harbinger of the vernal equinox! 

- Peggy Plass
Wild Cave Trip

On Tuesday, March 21, six HMNs (including three members of this year’s training class) joined host Brian Lux and our guide, Daniel Greenawalt, on a caving adventure. Our destination was Church Mountain Cave, located off Runion’s Creek Road in Rockingham County.

More about this from Carl Droms and photos from Peggy Plass HERE.
New Spring Projects—Snails and Slugs!

If you have an affinity for small crawly things, a newly approved volunteer project might be the perfect addition to your spring/summer Master Naturalist work!  This is a citizen scientist project which involves work with researchers from the National Park Service to do a survey for land snails, slugs and millipedes at designated areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If you’re interested in participating you can find more information about the study protocol along with procedures for signing up for the work HERE
A training session for the project is scheduled for May 6 at Peaks of Otter, VA, and the project will end June 30, 2017.  There’s a place for recording volunteer hours now active on the VMN-VMS.  If you need help with signing up or want more information, contact the HMN project coordinator, Peggy Plass:

- Peggy Plass
Recruiting Citizen Scientists!

"Every Spring, Virginia Working Landscapes recruits citizen scientists to assist with plant, bird and pollinator (and this year mammal) surveys across the Piedmont of northern Virginia, from Frederick to Albemarle County for spring and summer." Learn more about these HMN-approved volunteer service projects through the flyer shared by HMN Project Committee Chair Peggy Plass HERE. Included are time commitments, training dates and survey periods. There are survey sites in both Augusta and Rockingham Counties.

Get involved by contacting the survey coordinators indicated on the flyer.

Feel free to contact Peggy,, with questions. She has first hand experience with these projects and can highly recommend them for quality learning and support. 

Keeping up with the Demand for Trees

Josh McLaughlin is a nursery forester at the Virginia Department of Forestry's tree nursery in Crimora. He oversees the planting, harvesting and shipping of millions of tree and bush seedlings every year. He took time out of his busy schedule to show seven HMNs around the nursery on a chilly evening in mid-March.

The Augusta Forestry Center tree nursery in Crimora has an on-going need for volunteer help. Contact Josh if you want to get in some volunteer hours here and learn the ropes of mass tree production. Josh is at 540-363-7002, 540-363-5732, and/or 540-290-4637 (he carries two phones around with him!),

- Adrie Voors

Photo is of Josh with HMNs backed by a million white pine seedlings planted from seed a year and a half ago at the Augusta Forestry Center.
Outreach Events Scheduled 

Looking for a Few Good Volunteers …

Find an event near you and plan to join us!

April is known for its Earth Day events so what better time to do some extensive outreach for our chapter.

The HMN Outreach Committee is looking for some volunteers for several events in April and beyond. If you like to meet new people and enjoy talking about being a Virginia Master Naturalist or about our 2017 display theme of birds, now is your chance to shine! 

Saturday, April 8,  Blacks Run Clean Up and Green Scene, Ice House roundabout, Harrisonburg, 8:30AM-12PM

Saturday, April 22Earth Day Staunton, Gypsy Hill Bandstand, Staunton, 10AM-2PM

Sunday, April 23Kites & Critters Day, Bells Lane, Staunton, 1-5PM

Saturday, April 29Riverfest, Constitution Park, Waynesboro, 10AM-4:30PM

Thursday, May 11, JMU’s Community Service Fair, JMU Festival Center, 11AM–2PM

Saturday, June 17Harrisonburg-Rockingham African-American Festival, Ralph Sampson Park, Harrisonburg, 11AM-6PM

Any amount of time that you can help is appreciated. Please sign up on the Event Calendar of the VMN-VMS website or contact Janet,

- Janet James, Outreach Committee Chair
HMNs at Work
From the top:
  • HMN Board Meeting on March 19 at Sandy Greene's home. The next meeting is on Sunday, May 21, 3:30PM - all members welcome!
  • Kate tries on a flashy find at the March 29 HMN Adopt-a-Hwy trash pickup on Spring Creek Rd. with Chris Bowlen. Next pick up is on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - mark your calendars!
  • The Purcell Park Pollinator Garden gets some late winter love on March 9 with Art Vasy, Kathy Byers, Carl Droms, Kate, Chris, and Adrie
Get Out of Town with these Naturalist Opportunities 

Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources will host its ninth Geological Research Symposium at the Natural Resources building in Charlottesville, Thursday, April 20, 8AM-5PM. FREE. More HERE.

Warm Springs Mountain Preserve Earth Day Stewardship Event with The Nature Conservancy, Saturday, April 22, 9AM-12:30PM. Volunteers are needed to plant natives, install interpretive signage, build a split rail fence, pick up trash, clean out ditches and culverts, build wildlife piles by moving brush, and remove invasive species. Free Lunch! More HERE.

Adult Curator Camp at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, Saturday, May 13, 3-9PM. Programs include Life beneath Our Feet, Tricky Tracks, Table Tectonics, Foods from the Past, and more. Also an option to take a guided birding trip in the morning. $60 for non-members, includes dinner. More HERE.

Mount Rogers 43rd Spring Naturalist Rally, May 12 to 14, at Konnarock Community Center, and Grindstone Campground, Troutdale, VA. Three days of exploration and discovery for all ages. $10 registration fee. More HERE. 
Submissions please!

The HMN newsletter and website need your input! Please send articles, photos or ideas to Adrie. Newsletter item deadlines are the last day of the month for the following month's issue.

Wind your way HERE for a Naturalist-related events calendar for our area. Contact Adrie if you know of events to add to the calendar.
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