Headwaters Master Naturalists March 2017 Newsletter
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Upcoming this Month

Our Night Skies - Past and Present
Sunday, March 5, 7-8:30PM
. John C. Wells Planetarium, James Madison University, 91 E. Grace St., Harrisonburg. Planetarium director Shanil Virani on the changes in our night sky due to light pollution. Contact Malcolm Cameron. More below. Approved for HMN CE.

Dark Skies Night Hike - Shenandoah Mountain
Tuesday, March 7, 5:15-8:30PM. Briery Branch Gap, Shenandoah Mountain. Carpool from Turner Ashby High School. With Shanil Virani. Contact Malcolm, More below. Approved for HMN CE.

HMN Basic Training Class Spring Session Starts
Tuesday, March 7, 6-9PM.
Eagle Carpet Community Room, 1188 Port Republic Rd., Harrisonburg. This is a different location from other class sessions so as to include dinner. Welcome back! Contact Brian Lux.

Tree Planting at McCormick Farm
Wednesday, March 8, 9AM-12PM
. McCormick Farm Agricultural Research and Education Center, 128 Cyrus McCormick Circle, Raphine. With retired Forest Ranger Charlie Huppuch. More below. Sign up through the VMN-VMS calendar.

Water quality in the Shenandoah Valley by Dr. Tom Benzing
Tuesday, March 14, 7-8PM
. Wayne Theatre/Ross Performing Arts Center, 521 W. Main St., Waynesboro. JMU Professor Tom Benzing is involved with many water assessment projects throughout the valley. More HERE. Approved for HMN CE.

Edible- Medicinal and Utilitarian Uses of Native Plants
Sunday, March 19, 2PM
. Delaplane, VA. Presented by McNeill Mann, Administrator Director and Farm Coordinator of Earth Village Education in Marshall, Virginia for the Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society Winter Speaker Series. More HERE. Approved for HMN CE.

HMN Board of Directors Meeting
Sunday, March 19, 3:30-5:30PM.
Sandy Greene's home, Mount Sidney. All members welcome! Contact Sandy. More below.

Shenandoah Headwaters Stream Temperature Study Training
Thursday, March 23, 6-9PM. Harrisonburg. A new study through Trout Unlimited is in need of volunteer citizen scientists. Contact Jake Lemon, ASAP. Details on the VMN-VMN calendar. Approved for HMN CE.

Introduction to Benthic Monitoring
Sunday, March 26, 3-6PM. Augusta County Library, 3714 Churchville Ave., Churchville. Contact Whit Morriss with Friends of the Middle River, Approved for HMN CE.

HMN Adopt-a-Hwy Trash Pickup
Wednesday, March 29, 9:30AM
. Bluestone Vineyards, 4828 Spring Creek Rd., Bridgewater. This is our semiannual roadside litter pick up along Spring Creek Rd. Contact Adrie Voors.

Webinar - Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Biology and Management in the Southeastern US
Wednesday, March 29, 1PM
. Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Benton, University of Georgia, D.B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources for the Southern Regional Extension Forestry Forest Health Program. Details HERE. Approved for HMN CE.

Night Skies HMN CE Opportunities

Our Night Skies - Past and Present, Planetarium Presentation: Sunday, March 5th  
Night Hike, Briery Branch Gap: Tuesday, March 7th

How Many Stars Can You See Tonight? 

Our ancestors were adept at decoding the sky to learn their position on the surface of the planet, to tell the passage of time, and to learn when winter was approaching. Today, astrophysics is a scientific enterprise in which we have learned our cosmos is filled with billions of galaxies, each of which in turn may have billions of stars. This quest to understand our place within the cosmos is as old as our species. In a terrible irony, the same scientific principles that have allowed us to interrogate the Universe are now causing our night sky to be brighter than it has ever been. Americans just 60 years ago here in the Valley, could see thousands of stars on dark, moonless nights with the brilliant Milky Way overhead bright enough to cast shadows! That is gone. We now see few 10s of stars if we’re lucky.

What do we lose, when we lose the night? 
Join Dr. Shanil Virani, Director of James Madison University's John C. Wells Planetarium, as he discusses the profound changes that have occurred in modern times in how light pollution has removed many of the stars from the night skies we see. We will get a clear view of the night skies that our ancestors saw and which can now only be seen in a few more remote areas in the eastern U.S., such as Shenandoah Mountain.
John C. Wells Planetarium
91 E. Grace St., Harrisonburg 
Sunday, March 5th  
Family and friends are welcome to join us.
Directions HERE

On Tuesday, March 7th, Dr. Virani will lead a night hike to complement his program and allow everyone to make a connection with what they saw in the planetarium versus what we can see now.

We will meet at Turner Ashby High School parking lot, 800 N. Main St. (Rt. 42), Bridgewater, at 5:15PM to carpool to Briery Branch Gap for a short hike to a clearing on the ridgetop. We will watch the sunset and see the stars and planets come out in all their glory and learn some constellations. 

In Case of Adverse Weather, we will postpone to the following night, Wednesday, March 8, also at 5:15PM at Turner Ashby H.S.  

You can sign up for these events through the VMN-VMS calendar.
These Night Skies CE opportunities are great preparation for the annual Starry Nights programs HMN Chip Brown helps to coordinate in Harrisonburg and beyond. Scroll down for more about this and contact Chip to volunteer!
Plant Trees!

Wednesday, March 8, from 9AM to 12PM, join retired forest ranger Charlie Huppuch in this annual tree planting along the Marl Creek Trail at the McCormick Farm between Raphine and Steeles Tavern. There are 100 trees ready for planting. Be ready to dig, wear boots and gloves, and dress for the weather. Bring your favorite shovel, water bottle and a snack.

Meet at the head of the Marl Creek Trail, just opposite the mill museum. Sign up on the VMN-VMS calendar.

Contact Sandy Greene or Peggy Plass if you have questions.

"It's a really special feeling to be putting out trees that could potentially be here 300 years from now!" - Peggy Plass

Photo above is of the HMN Marl Creek Trail tree planting crew in March 2015, by Sandy Greene.
Help Bats!

There is a new volunteer opportunity and bat expert resource that moved to Augusta County! Recently, Leslie Sturges has relocated her non-profit organization— Save Lucy the Bat— from northern Virginia to Mt. Solon.

This is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of white-nose syndrome and its devastating impact on North American bats. And because they are new to our area, Leslie is looking for volunteers. Save Lucy the Bat has a long history of working with master naturalists in the NOVA area. ...

Find out more about this from Kate Guenther HERE.
One volunteer needed:

Seeking one friendly HMNer to help me do the spring pond and garden work at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in late March/early April. Just 1-2 hours of work cleaning out the pond, tidying up the gardens, re-standing the rain barrels and maintenance for the irrigation hoses. No particular skills necessary other than friendliness!

Contact Kate Guenther to help out!
Last Call for T-Shirts and Nametags

Brian Lux is putting together T-shirt and nametag orders. If you would like either, please email him at with your T-shirt size and/or preferred name to go on a nametag. Exact T-shirt appearance has not yet been determined.

Nametags are $6.00 each
T-shirts are $10.00 each

The new deadline for ordering is this Saturday, March 4th.


HMNs Save Trees!

Since a tree seedling planting last year in the Blacks Run riparian area of Purcell Park, Japanese hops among other invasives have taken over. The hop vines had literally pulled the seedlings down to the ground. On Friday, February 24 eight HMNs and a friend worked with Harrisonburg Stream Health Coordinator Trey Jarrels and two Nature Conservancy representatives to come to their rescue. 

More about this, including photos, from Adrie HERE.
More Volunteer Projects

Frog Watch

For a few years now, I have been citizen scienc-ing it up in my front yard marsh monitoring the types of frogs that are there, what time of year they croak and how loudly. Sometimes the frogs are VERY loud. At times I have literally had the urge to put my hands over my ears. That is ridiculous. ...

More about this from Kate HERE.

Solitary Bees

The Native Blue Orchard Bee Monitoring Campaign is a citizen science project seeking to gather much-needed field data about the status of native blue orchard bees in a large region of Virginia and to determine possible competition with non-native bees. 

More HERE.

Understory Invasives

Invasive shrubs are becoming increasingly common in eastern forests. These shrubs are top competitors for native shrubs - they can break bud earlier in the spring and hold onto leaves longer in the fall. Researchers at Penn State University are seeking observers in the eastern U.S. to document changes in the growth of invasive and native shrubs. 

Recruit Some New Energy for Your Projects

As we did in the fall, the Basic Training class is reaching out to members and asking them to sign up to talk for 3-5 minutes at the beginning of one of our classes this spring. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself, meet the new trainees and share a bit about your passions with this organization.

Please contact Brian at to pick a date. Typically Tuesdays at 6 pm are the best time to come speak. Thanks for helping our growing organization effectively connect with new members.

- Brian Lux, Basic Training Committee Chair
Spring Field Trips!

You will have the opportunity to join in on field trips that are being arranged for our trainee class. Around March 6, we will be sending an email to all membership letting you know the topics, dates and how many open slots are available for the field trips occurring between March 6 and May 7. Sign ups will be first come, first served!

Members will be able to count these field trips as Continuing Education in the VMN-VMS.

Watch for the email if you are interested!

- Kate, Basic Training Committee

Photo is from an Eric Jones-led field trip in Montgomery Park last November.
The state VMN office compiled the data from our 2016 Annual Report into this beautiful infographic! 
April 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.

HMN Outreach Committee is looking for some volunteers for several events in April. 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

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
Photos Wanted!

Janet's talented daughter Jenna is back at work creating outreach materials for our chapter! Please send her photos from your adopted Birding and Wildlife Trail sites to be considered for a Power Point presentation on this project that Jenna is working on. Email photos to Janet at

Photo is from Switzer Lake last July.
More April Dates For Your Calendars
Contact Chip to volunteer!

Starry Nights 2017: Fri-Sat, April 21-22 - NEW DATES!
We are looking for several volunteers to help plan and lead activities promoting dark night-time skies and reducing light pollution. Activities to lead/coordinate/volunteer for include planetarium talks and night walks and more! Contact Chip Brown at or 507-459-1839 to express interest or with questions.

2017 Shenandoah Mountain Wildflower Walks: Saturday, April 29
Please consider volunteering for this one-day event. We will likely lead 3-4 walks and need at least one wildflower "expert" and two other walk leaders on each walk. Contact Chip Brown at or 507-459-1839 to express interest or with questions.
The next HMN board meeting will be held on:

Sunday, March 19 (changed from March 26)
3:30-5:30 PM
Sandy Greene's house
123 Foxwood Lane
Mount Sidney 24467
click on image at right to find Google directions
All members are welcome and encouraged to attend chapter board meetings.

Future meeting dates have tentatively been scheduled for May 21, July 23, September 24, and November 19.

Our approved Chapter Board meeting minutes can be found in the Documents section of the VMN Volunteer Management System.
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.
Copyright © 2017 Headwaters Master Naturalists, All rights reserved.

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