Are you keen on learning more about conserving Virginia's Natural Resources?
Have you ever wondered about the geology, entomology or herpetology found right outside your door? What goes bump in the night, what grows on the forest floor, or what invaders are coming to a lake near you? Well we have something just for you!
The BRFAL Chapter enjoys a hike around Douthat Lake learning about controlled burns
The next Virginia Master Naturalist Basic Training for the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter (BRFAL) will be held in March.
Learn from environmental professors and other expert naturalists in the basic training classes in the heart of Rocky Mount. This chapter encompasses Franklin and Bedford Counties, the land between the lakes and the lakes, and even up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Rocky Mount, with Saturday field trips.
The Cost is $125 and the deadline to get your application in is February 16, 2015 for the upcoming Spring Basic Training held in Rocky Mount Virginia.This fee also entitles each participant to a one-year membership in the BRFAL Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program.
A Community-Based Natural Resources Volunteer Program
Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands.
What you'll learn
People who are curious about nature, enjoy the outdoors, and want to be a part of natural resource management and conservation in Virginia are perfect candidates to become Virginia Master Naturalists.
What You'll Do
A year following completion of your basic training course, you must complete 40 hours of volunteer service to become a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist. You can complete your service in four key areas: citizen science, stewardship, environmental education, and chapter administration. Following your initial certification, you can become recertified every year by completing 40 additional hours of service and participating in 8 hours of continuing education.
Bird, butterfly, frog and toad counts. Wildlife and native plant mapping and surveys. Camera trapping. Stream monitoring. Citizen scientists all over the country follow consistent protocols to collect data that supply scientists and policy-makers with the information they need to make informed management and policy decisions. These data describe the lives, habits, and responsiveness to change of plant and animal species or communities.
Plant trees. Protect streams. Construct concrete balls for placing in nearby rivers to allow oysters to grow from seeds to adulthood. Restore and maintain wildlife habitat, improving water quality. Build park trails and maintain them. Stewardship brings volunteers outside, gets them dirty, and shows them tangible results of their work.
People who enjoy teaching, public speaking, or working with youth may do education-related service projects, such as leading programs in a nearby state park.
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.
EXAMPLES OF SOME CHAPTER PROJECTS
Water Quality Monitoring at Booker T Washington National Monument
The data gives Booker T. Washington Nat’l Park baseline values for future comparison and may reveal early warnings of degrading conditions in the watersheds. Without BRFAL’s help, the Park would not be able to conduct this valuable monitoring, and the natural resource management decisions of the Park would be based on sporadic visual information only.
Volunteers and staff will conduct monthly water chemistry measurements at five sites in the Park. A YSI Professional Plus electronic meter is calibrated against known standards and then is used in the creeks to measure temperature, pH, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen in the water. A long term YSI water quality sonde is also used to make specific conductance measurements every 15 minutes at one site. Water samples are also collected for laboratory analysis of additional chemicals and sediment.
Basic Training field trips offer hands on learning
A BRFAL Chapter VMN Volunteer shares Water Quality Testing with a Brownie Troop
eMammal Camera Trapping
The project entails installing 3 motion sensor cameras in three locations on and in the vicinity of hiking trails. Training will be provided prior to starting the project. The camera locations will be recorded using a GPS. After a period of time, the memory cards will be replaced in the cameras and the cameras will be moved to a new location. A total of 4 locations will be used. Each time the memory cards will be brought back and the photos will be reviewed and the mammals will be summarized. The project is under the auspeces of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The goal of this project is to determine the impact of humans on wildlife (particularly mammals) in our parks
Bluebird nest box monitoring on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Bluebird nest boxes along the Blue Ridge Parkway are monitored for nests, eggs, baby birds and fledgling activity. Data are collected for an ongoing project under the auspices of the Roanoke Valley Bird Club and the NPS.
33 bluebird boxes located along the BRP from approx 5 mi South of Rte 220 to Rte 460 are monitored each week from early April until mid-August according to a protocol. At each box the presence or absence of a nest is reported along with the nesting species, number of eggs, number of hatchlings and approximate age of the baby birds. Data forms are submitted to RVBC and copies are sent to the next weeks’ monitor.
Invasive Species Education & Control
This project will both educate homeowners and contribute to the control of invasive plant species in a subdivision of about 120 lots with 76 homes on Smith Mountain Lake. Will educate approximately 25 homeowners in the Walnut Run Property Owners Association about six invasive species plants, control and native substitutes. (Ailanthus, Autumn Olive, Japanese honeysuckle, multi-floral rose, stilt grass and hydrilla). The second phase of this project will be an invasive plant species survey of the subdivision. In phase 3, we plan to establish volunteer work groups to do a “hack and squirt” control of a large number of Ailanthus trees (Tree of Heaven).
Inventory of Chestnut Trees on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Mills Gap Overlook to Great Valley Overlook
This project will assess the characteristics of American Chestnut trees along a stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) (approx 10 miles). This will provide a baseline for the National Park Service (NPS) for continued monitoring and provide a basis for public education using signage at appropriate overlooks. The project has been discussed with the NPS and is welcomed since this information is currently not available.
At accessible points along the BRP, from Mills Gap Overlook to Great Valley Overlook (approx 10 mi) American Chestnut trees greater than 3 feet in height will be counted, located using GPS coordinates and distance from the parkway, assessed for circumference at 4.5 ft above the ground, assessed for health status (eg, cankers, splits) and presence of burrs. This section of the BRP has been targeted because informal observations have identified many large healthy chestnut trees on the “West” side of the parkway there. The information will be summarized and provided to the NPS.
Overview of other projects this chapter is involved with:
- Smith Mountain Lake Buffer Landscaping
- SML Watershed Education Project
- Tree Identification Signage Smith Mountain Lake State Park
- Save our Streams Education Program
- Environmental Awareness Presentations to Groups
- Master Naturalist Nature Expo
- Wildlife Mapping
- The Walnut Run Eastern Box Turtle Project
- Ruskin-Freer Herbarium Work
- Planting American Chestnut Trees
- Trail Ranger for the Eastern Divide Ranger District, USDA Forest Service