Some Headwaters Master Naturalists news for you!
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Commencement Celebration 2015!

Congratulations to Headwaters Chapter's newest Members!

On November 12th, the Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists held commencement for its fourth cohort.

We welcome Kathy Byers, Lacey Dean, Byron Hukee, Ginny Joseph, Brian Lux, Stephen Pietrowski, Peggy Plass, Elaine Smith, Selah Sprinkel and Bill Sprinkel as they continue to help protect Virginia natural resources with their many talents and enthusiastic energy.

An additional congratulations to Kathy, Byron and Elaine who have also become Certified Virginia Master Naturalists by meeting all the certification requirements, including at least 40 hours of volunteer service and eight hours of continuing education.

More, including photos, from Kathy Byers, Elaine Smith and Peggy Plass here.

The chapter would like to thank RoxAnna Theiss for her unlimited time and energy, which she put into training this year. RoxAnna once again made hats for the grads on top of all her other work! 

We would like to thank Paul Bugas for running the ceremony. Michelle Prysby, our state coordinator, said it was the nicest she had ever attended. It was very personal and enlightening to attend and learn more about each new member. They are a very active, talented group. We are very glad to have them join. 

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped set up at Arey Hall and clean up afterward. Kate Guenther brought lovely wild decorations and the assortment of food and drinks had a variety for every taste. Watch out Martha Stewart, you have competition!  - Ann Murray, HMN Programs Chair

Events for HMNs ...

The Gestalt of Weather and related statistics, Tuesday, December 15, 1-3:30PM, North River Library, Bridgewater. Continuing Education opportunity from Kate Guenther and Malcolm Cameron. More on the VMN VMS calendar. Contact RoxAnna Theiss.

Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, Saturday, December 19 and Saturday, January 2, 2016. See information below.

Audubon Christmas Bird Counts

Join one of our three local bird count circles for this year's 116th annual Christmas Bird Count!

To participate in this project, contact one or more of the circle compilers.

  • An entirely Augusta County circle is centered at Verona. This count will be on Saturday, December 19. Contact Allen Larner, Read about the 2013 Augusta County circle count from Penny Warren here. 
  • A mostly Rockingham County circle is centered at Ottobine Rd. and Clover Hill Rd. (257 and 613). Weather permitting, this count will take place on Saturday, December 19. Contact Bill Benish, 540-908-7336, He needs to hear from you as soon as possible if you would like to participate. Let him know your level of experience with bird identification so he can best place you.
  • The Waynesboro counting circle straddles the Augusta and Nelson County line and incorporates Stuarts Draft and parts of Waynesboro. It will be held on Saturday, January 2, 2016. Contact Crista Cabe,, 540-255-4677 ... no later than December 14.

Don't want to leave your house? If you are located within one of the counting circles, each about 15 miles in diameter, you are most welcome and encouraged to count birds in your backyard during the 24 hour period designated for the circle area you are within. Contact the circle compiler listed above about your participation.

Find our local circle areas by clicking on the image at right and navigating to and zooming in on Rockingham and Augusta Counties, VA, or writing them into the search box.

Mark your calendar:
2015 Annual Meeting, Saturday, January 23, 2016, 10 AM to 2 PM
Trinity Presbyterian Church, 725 S. High St., Harrisonburg

Please plan to bring a hot or cold dish or beverage, suitable for brunch. We will eat first, from 10 to 11am, then have short reports and vote for the next board. After that, we can eat the rest of the food!

We have a fantastic speaker coming, Steven David Johnson! Steven is an Eastern Mennonite University department chair and associate professor in visual and communication arts. He teaches conservation photography. Widely published, you have probably seen some of his fabulous photos of wildlife. In the past he has generously helped photo document our Annual Wildflower Walks, amphibian night at Hone Quarry with Billy Flint, and Cooks Creek Arboretum tree-tagging dedication. On January 23, he will let us in on the beauty and magic of "Life in a Vernal Pool" as seen through his photography, from about 12:30 to 1:30pm. 

Please contact Ann Murray to confirm that you will attend. We will need help setting up and cleaning up, so if you can help with that, plan to come at 9:30am or stay until 2:30pm and let Ann know.   - Ann Murray, HMN Programs Chair,, 540-363-5304.

Book Sale
Recycle your naturalist-related books at the Annual Meeting book sale. Please bring any books and/or other naturalist-related items that you would like to donate. We will also have a 50/50 raffle to raise money for projects. Consider volunteering to be our shopkeeper for the book sale and raffle at the meeting. Contact Ann Murray.

The John C. Wells Planetarium on the James Madison University campus hosts free public shows, Saturdays at 2:15pm and 3:30pm. At 91 E. Grace St., it is less than a mile from Trinity Church. Consider heading over after the meeting to check out the facility and show. Scheduled on Jan. 23 is: To Space and Back

The Projects Committee held a semiannual meeting on the sunny Sunday afternoon of November 19 at committee Chair Sandy Greene's home with a record attendance of ten HMNs.

Discussion topics included:
  • Streamlining the projects list on VMN VMS.
  • Assuring each group project has a coordinator to keep the project active and the listing current in VMN VMS. We have projects that individuals work on alone which offer needed flexibility; the group projects offer opportunities to work together and strengthen our chapter. *
  • A list of project possibilities that have been brought to our attention from members, and other organizations and individuals.
  • Supporting Wildflower Walks 2016! Chip Brown has agreed to take on our chapter's "signature project" for a fourth year. He has set the date for April 30, 2016.
  • Maintenance of our Monarchs & More! 2014/2015 chapter focus project. We are committed to two years of upkeep. Money has been budgeted for additional plantings, mulch and other needs to keep these gardens looking great and being effective public education tools.
Our volunteer service projects are at the heart of our chapter's mission and unity. Your ideas are welcome. Contact Sandy Greene.
* COORDINATOR NEEDED: In particular our work with DGIF Biologist Jason Hallacher on the Lake Shenandoah Pollinator Trail needs a coordinator to facilitate our involvement with this rewarding effort. Contact Sandy Greene if you are interested in coordinating our chapter's work on the Lake Shenandoah Pollinator Trail.
Fiery Future of Mount Joy

Headwaters Master Naturalists were treated to a tour of Mount Joy Pond Natural Area Preserve by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Natural Heritage Program (NHP) Steward Adam Christie on Tuesday, November 10. Experienced with the benefits and logistics of controlled burns to improve biodiversity and forest health, Adam has big plans for this special corner of Augusta County. More from Adrie Voors here.

On October 28, Adam joined fellow NHP Steward Ryan Knopf and NHP Program Director Tom Smith to present to Headwaters Master Naturalists about DCR's Natural Heritage Program with special attention to the Deep Run Ponds Natural Area Preserve . More from Malcolm Cameron about this here.
Your volunteer and CE hours are needed!

As the end of the calendar year approaches, we have a very short window to aggregate the data from our chapter and report it. ... Thanks... for taking the time to keep your documentation up to date so that our Annual Report truly captures all of the good that we are doing as the Headwaters Chapter.  - Brian Lux, Membership Committee

Your recorded hours are valuable to our chapter! Please take the time to record your hours into the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System (VMN VMS).

Logging our hours spent on volunteer service projects, chapter administration, and continuing education is essential for showing our sponsors what we are doing, for insurance purposes, and for determining individual certification. If for no other reason, make this effort for our hard working Annual Report Committee which will soon be convening to compile this all-important document from your submitted numbers as required of the state program by early January. A robust Annual Report proves our worth to our sponsoring agencies, ensuring continued program funding.

Do you have enough hours for re/certification? You need a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education each calendar year to maintain certification.To find out how many hours you have accumulated this year:
  • log into VMN VMS
  • click on "View Your Hours" in the upper left-hand corner of the screen
  • fill in the "Start Date" and "End Date" boxes at the top with "1/1/15" and "12/31/15"
  • click "Submit" ... then find your totals at the bottom of the page.

At 64 years old, a Laysan albatross nesting on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is the world's oldest known living banded wild bird. She has been named Wisdom. She has likely raised some 36 chicks, one at a time, and flown over 6 million miles in her lifetime. Read more about her here, and about how plastics are plaguing Laysan albatrosses here.

There will be no Headwaters Chapter Board of Directors meeting in December.

Our Chapter Board meeting minutes can be found in the Documents section of the VMN Volunteer Management System.
HMN newsletter and website content submissions are always appreciated!

Please send them to Adrie. Newsletter item deadlines are generally the last day of the month for the next month's issue.

Wind your way HERE to view our calendar of Naturalist-related events in our area. Contact Adrie if you know of events to add to the calendar.
Copyright © 2015 Headwaters Master Naturalists, All rights reserved.

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