December 4, 2012

Volunteers - Please update your hours!

All volunteers are requested to update their hours on the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System site.  Please do this even if you do not have enough hours for certification (40 hours). 

The hours we volunteer are proof to the agencies that sponsor the Master Naturalist program that the money and time they give to the  program are well-spent. The Master Naturalist program could be discontinued if these agencies and the state legislature feel that they are not getting good value.

Please have your hours entered by December 31, so they can be included in the chapter's year end report.

October 3, 2012

Government Island

The nature walk at Government Island on September 17 was another success. The weather was beautiful and the park held more new wonders for the participants. Each time I enter the park, I see something new. Each season brings new stages in the plant cycle, and new visitors of the animal variety. This time we saw a beautiful great white egret out on the marsh. Not the first time I have seen one of those beauties there, but not an everyday sighting. Along the edge of the parking lot we saw turtlehead blooms. Along the path there was plenty of stilt grass (invasive) competing with lady's thumb for the honor of lining the asphalt path. Some consider lady's thumb to be invasive, also. But I would rather see lady's thumb over stilt grass any day. Speaking of invasive species, I will be contacting Stafford Parks to discuss the problem of the amount of invasive species at Government Island. It has been a "disturbed" are for hundreds of years. The invasives are overtaking the natives, without question.
The best find of the day was the strawberry bush at the end of the walkway, on the marsh side. A strawberry bush was displaying its red "strawberries", some of which had opened to show the orange berries on the inside. I had never observed this plant at this stage of its cycle. A brilliant display. Most of the strawberry plants at the island are small, pathetic things barely holding on.

There will not be a walk in October, but I hope to see you on Saturday, November 17 at 8 AM.
Maria Cannata, Master Naturalist

September 21, 2012

Crow's Nest in Stafford County

Mike Lott, Natural Heritage Northern Virginia Steward, spoke at our September chapter meeting about Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve.  Crow's Nest is currently closed to the public.  However, plans are in progress to improve access roads and build hiking trails.

Volunteers are needed for trail building, invasives removal, and a variety of other tasks.  Anyone interested can contact Mike at 540-658-8690 or via email

September 16, 2012

2012 Virginia Master Naturalist Conference - More Pictures

A few more pictures from the VMN 2012 Conference in Martinsville, VA.

2012 Virginia Master Naturalist Conference

Four master naturalists from the CRC chapter participated in the 2012 VMN conference in Martinsville.  We had a great time learning about conducting bio blitzes, invasives, macro invertebrates, mushrooms, stream habitat monitoring, and many other topics.  Here are some photos from the Advanced Save-Our-Streams training.

June 14, 2012

2012 Virginia Master Naturalist Training

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Virginia Master Naturalist. The Central Rappahannock Chapter will be holding a training course from August 13 - December 3, 2012. The training will prepare participants for volunteering as a Master Naturalist in our community. Though it is an excellent educational opportunity, our purpose is to foster a base of natural resource volunteers.

An Orientation/Introductory class will be held on August 13th at 9 AM at Mott’s Run Nature Center in Fredericksburg. The Center is located at 6600 River Road.

Applications for the training can be downloaded by clicking here or obtained by calling 540-663-0181 or e-mailing or

The cost for the training is $150.  A scholarship is available based on  financial need.  Fees are due by August 13th and may be paid at the Orientation Session. Make checks payable to VMN-CRC.

Enrollment is limited to 20 on a first come basis. Applications should be submitted by August 6th to:

Master Naturalist Program
Virginia Dept. of Forestry
11617 Caledon Road
King George, VA 22485

If you have questions, please contact Jim Scibek at or Karen Snape, 540-663-0181 or e-mail

 Please note the following:

1. To become a Certified Master Naturalist, a trainee must:
a) Complete 40 hours of  basic training with a minimum of 25% time in the field;
b) Pass the post-training assessment with a score of 70% or higher;
c) Complete a minimum of 8 hours of advanced training, approved by the Central Rappahannock Chapter; and
d) Complete a minimum of 40 hours of service, approved by the Central Rappahannock Chapter.

Each volunteer has a maximum of 12 months from the last day of basic training to complete the remaining requirements for certification. Certification is valid through the calendar year following the year in which the requirements were completed. To maintain certification, volunteers complete an additional 8 hours of advanced training and 40 hours of service annually.

2. Due to statewide regulations, applicants must be 18 years old by the start of the training session (August 13, 2012) or aged 14-17 and accompanied by an adult who is responsible for them, as long as they are both registered participants in the program.

3. Training Class Schedule and Location– Classes will be held Monday mornings from 9:00AM-11:30AM at Motts Run Nature Center in Fredericksburg except for two sessions on Sept. 24th and Oct 15th, which will be held Monday evening from 6:30PM-9:00PM.

Master Naturalist guidelines require 25% of the training to take place outdoors. Four required Saturday sessions are scheduled. Saturday classes usually last four hours and will be held at Motts Run, the Friends of the Rappahannock facility on Fall Hill Avenue or other locations within the CRC chapter’s region. See schedule below.

4. Trainees may not miss more than 2 classes, and all missed sessions must be made up by attending the appropriate class(es) within 12 months of the completion of the training or other approved make-up activities.

5. Additional information on the Virginia Master Naturalist Program can be found at

Master Naturalist Training Schedule – 2012

Aug. 13th Orientation/Intro to Virginia Master Naturalist Program/Admin. Info/Risk Management/American Naturalist
Mon. Aug. 20th Ecological Concepts
Mon. Aug. 27th Botany
Mon. Sept. 10th Forest Ecology and Management
Mon. Sept. 17th Ornithology
Sat. Sept. 22nd  Plant Walk
* Mon. Sept. 24th Geology/ Biogeography
Mon. Oct. 1st Land Use/ Urban Systems
Sat. Oct. 6th Bird Walk
Mon. Oct. 8th Citizen Science
* Mon. Oct. 15th Weather and Climate
Sat. Oct. 20 Wetlands and Coastal Ecology
Mon. Oct. 22nd Interpretation & Teaching Skills
Mon. Oct. 29th Soil Science
Sat. Nov. 3rd Biological and Chemical Water Monitoring and Icthyology
Mon. Nov. 5th Mammalogy
Mon. Nov. 12th Herpetology
Mon. Nov. 19th Entomology – Exams Distributed
Mon. Dec. 3rd EXAMS DUE BACK to DOF- King George (Karen’s Office) by 5 PM
Tues. Dec. 4th Chapter Meeting & Graduation (Optional)

* Monday evening class.

Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact VDOF at 540-663-0181 (TDD number 1-800-828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

June 11, 2012

Grand Opening of the SGI Ni River Trail Extension

Please join our master naturalists at the grand opening of the Ni River Trail extension on Saturday, June 16 behind River Run Business Park at 8110 River Stone Drive, Fredericksburg VA. Our chapter members have actively worked with the Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative to develop this incredible resource. 

The grand opening festivities will include trail tours beginning at 9AM led by our chapter, a 10AM ribbon cutting, and other family-friendly activities, including "critter displays" and a snake exhibit at 1 p.m. 

May 10, 2012

On Saturday, April 21, the first naturalist-guided nature walk was conducted at Government Island, Stafford. The weather was cooperative and 50 participants joined naturalists Maria Cannata and Kristen Murphy, with help from Leslie Raterman. M.C. Moncure, from the Stafford Board of Tourism, took photos and handed out cold water at the end of the walk.

During the introduction to Austin Run, the group was treated to the appearance of a Northern water snake. The creek water was clear as a bell, allowing participants to view the snake, turtles, fish, and frogs. During the walk the naturalists pointed out both native and intrusive species. Many types of vines were encountered from lovely wild roses, to wild blackberries, and the wonders of the ever disagreeable poison ivy plant. Green brier, with its year-long prickers was evident, along with wild grape, honeysuckle, and Virginia Creeper. Spring wildflowers were still in bloom. Natives, such as Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Spring Beauties, and intrusive plants like mustard, pretty, but not welcome. As the participants strolled along the path, various types of trees were discussed. Some trees quite common, some invasive, such as the Tree of Heaven. Of particular interest was the one Devil's Walking Stick tree that has been found at Government Island.
Some of the history of Government Island was given, but that will be the topic of the walk scheduled for the third Saturday in June. The geology of the sandstone at the quarry site was explained with a brief explanation of the quarrying process.

Government Island has two types of forest, two creeks (Austin Run and Aquia Creek), marsh and swamp habitats and one ""gem" of the island, a small vernal pool. Each individual wetlands habitat was described and pointed out. Water plants were starting to emerge in the marsh, but none were yet flowering.
Some birds were observed and others were heard off in the trees. There will be a bird walk on the third Saturday in May when hopefully more of our feathered friends will be enjoyed.

Government Island is a unique, fascinating park located in a very accessible place. The Master Naturalists hope to introduce the public to this ever changing forest and wetlands environment. Through education comes an understanding of the need for conservation. We hope you will join us for our next walk, July 21 at 8AM. Separate, tailored walks can also be made available to groups. with prior arrangement. Contact the chapter to make arrangements.

See you on July 21!

May 7, 2012

2012 Master Naturalist Training

We will be offering Master Naturalist training beginning in August.  To become a Certified Master Naturalist, you must complete a 40 hour basic training class, 8 advanced training hours, and 40 volunteer hours.  In return, you will learn much about nature, conservation, and the environment.  In addition, you will meet many wonderful and dedicated people with similar interests.

More information about the planned training will be posted at a later date.  If you are interested, please contact our chapter.

April 17, 2012

Government Island Guided Nature Hikes Begin this Month

The Master Naturalists are pleased to announce the first guided nature walk at Stafford County's Government Island, off Coal Landing Road, just east of Route 1 in North Stafford. The first walk will take place on Saturday, April 21 at 2:00 pm. Members Maria Cannata and Kristen Murphy will meet participants in the parking lot for an informative, lively nature walk along well-marked trails. Bring walking shoes and water.

Maria and Kristen have been working for months locating and learning the flora, fauna, and geology of the park. Government Island is a fascinating area in its diversity. Within the confines of the park there are 2 creeks, swampland, tidal marsh, and even a vernal pool. As Spring slowly evolves, so does the landscape at Government Island. Almost daily new plants are growing and new animals are becoming active. Each day brings a new surprise.

Government Island contains the site of the old sandstone quarry that was in operation during colonial times. Blocks of Aquia freestone were used to build many of the symbols of freedom that we see in Washington, D.C., including the White House and Capitol Building. The stone was taken by barge down Aquia Creek and up the Potomac. The quarry site is now accessible to the public.
Walks will continue throughout the summer and fall, on the 3rd Saturday of the month,at varying times, starting on a regular basis in June or July, as park access permits. Groups may request the nature walk, or a modified/customized version by contacting our chapter.

March 22, 2012

Salamander Loop Hike

 Join the Virginia Master Naturalists on the Spotsylvania Greenway Initiative's Salamander Loop.  Our Central Rappahannock Chapter leads nature walks on the 2nd Sunday of the month. It's a great opportunity to learn about the trees, wildflowers, birds, and other wildlife.  We make new discoveries each month as we explore the upland forest and vernal pool.

See the listing of events on this page for dates and location.

March 12, 2012

VMN CRC is on Facebook

Our VMN chapter is now on Facebook.  If you have a Facebook account, you can join the VMN Central Rappahannock group.  Our members share information about upcoming events, pictures from their volunteer activities, and other items of interest.

To access it, click the following link and request to be added to the group: