Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                                      Fall 2018
Yes, Goat Yoga is Real and We'll Have It
New Event Celebrates the Benefits of Nature
By Koy Mislowsky
Events and Volunteer Coordinator
Join us for our first  Nature Nurtures event Saturday, October 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The new event will include vendors, demonstrations, workshops, nature crafts and more. The cost is just $5 per car so bring the entire family. Check out the  Nature Nurtures website here.

T his unique one-day event will feature a variety of walks, talks and  demonstrations that highlight uses of the natural world to improve and sustain a healthy quality of life. This will be a family friendly event where children of all ages can do such things as create fairy and woodland creature houses in the "enchanted forest" and enjoy crafts that will connect them to the natural world.

Major Underwriter
Nature Nurtures is underwritten by Bank of Clarke County, with additional support from iHeart Media and Q-102. 

Nature Nurtures
Schedule of Events

9:30-10:30  Bird Walk with Dave Carr

9:30-10:30 Goat Yoga - Silver Maple Farm $30 per person Registration Required (Please bring your own yoga mat & towel)

10:00-10:45 Medicinal Herbs for those with Fur with Monica Chapman

10:00-10:30 Nature Journaling with Christie Green

10:00-10:15 Tai Chi Demo - The Sanctuary

10:30-11:00 Small Flock Farming with Caleb Fahnestock

11:00-3:45 Build a Woodland Creature and Fairy House

11:00-Noon Food Should Cure You not Kill You - Cooking Demo with Barbara Hineline & Teresa Barton

11:30-12:15 Health through House Plants with Kim Strader

11:00-11:45 Trees that Heal with Geo Derick Giordano

11:00-11:30 Nature Journaling with Christie Green
Noon-1:00 Chakra Balancing Flow Yoga Stephanie McKinley (Please bring your own yoga mat & towel)

Noon-1:00 Intro to Forest Gardening with Drew Speziale

Noon-12:30 Herbs that Nurture Mind & Body with Teresa Barton

12:30-1:15 Tai Chi Demo with Pat Rice

1:30-3:30 Forest Bathing Talk & Walk with Annette Naber

1:30-2:30 Healing Circle with Rebecca Wilson

1:30-2:30 Yoga in Nature with Rachel Dollard (Please bring your own yoga mat & towel)

2:00-3:00 Herbs for Kids with Caroline Urbania

2:00-2:30 Small Flock Farming with Caleb Fahnestock

2:00-2:30 Tai Chi Demo - The Sanctuary

2:45-3:45 Herbal Remedies for Cold & Flu - Julie Pettler

3:15-4 Meditation in Nature with Rachel Dollard

Our Shop is Closing its Doors Permanently

By Robin Arnold
Administrative Specialist
Our Shop is closing its doors for good. The little FOSA gift store in the archway of the Quarters has been open  only   weekend afternoons for the last year. It is no longer able to generate adequate income to support the work of the Foundation. We'll put our energies elsewhere. 

We have everything on sale -- 50 percent off regular prices unless otherwise marked. We have books, socks, garden-themed gifts, t-shirts, and UVa logo items.

Due to volunteer and staff availability, along with the size of our tiny shop, we would like to schedule your visit. If you would like to shop please make an appointment using our form. The shop will be open  only   by appointment, as long as inventory lasts. 

All sales final, no returns or refunds. We thank you for your support and understanding.
Like our page on Facebook  and watch for POP-UP hours and specials! 
FOSA's Fall  Programs Brought to You by the Letter "M"

By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
Okay, well, not really, but we will offer programs on mindfulness, managing invasives, and the moon! Shell Fischer returns with her always-popular Guided Walking Meditation (October 15); PRISM staff and volunteers will offer another in a series of workshops aimed at landowners battling invasive plants (October 18); and our final full moon walk of the year will be November 23.

Click the image for the complete Fall programs brochure.
And be sure to check out our other fall programs.

Since 2008, FOSA and Shenandoah University's Department of Environmental Studies have cosponsored a public program on the SU campus, with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute joining us in 2015. This year's presenter will be SU's own Dr. Woody Bousquet, who will talk about nearly 40 years of surveys and research at Winchester's Abrams Creek wetlands.

A week later photographer Sharon Fisher will offer our first-ever photo workshop focusing on the use of smartphone cameras. This workshop has limited space, so register early.

On September 11 we kicked off a four-part sustainable landscaping series called "Greener than Grass." The aim of this series, co-sponsored by Sustainability Matters, is to share with homeowners the many benefits of reducing the amount of grass -- the largest irrigated crop in the U.S. -- that they maintain. Our first program emphasized plantings for pollinators. On November 27 the series continues with Landscaping for Wildlife. Subsequent programs in the series will be January 15 (Edible Landscaping) and March 12 (Alternative Groundcovers).

Are you looking forward to colder weather? We already have two programs scheduled for December. On December 8, Virginia Department of Forestry's Matt Wolanski will offer a winter tree identification workshop, again co-sponsored with Sustainability Matters. After time outside with the trees we will end with a potluck and social hour.

The following weekend, on December 16, we will once again offer the Blandy Bird Count and Family Festival. This event, offered this year for the fifth time, is recommended for those 5-14 with an adult but all are welcome.

Want more? Watch for other programs and consider participating in Blandy's book club, photo club, or sketch group. And be sure to visit through the year to appreciate Blandy's beauty in all seasons.

Education Update
New Grant Will Support Watershed Education in Clarke County Schools  

By Candace Lutzow-Felling
Director of Education
Blandy Experimental Farm and Clarke County Public Schools were awarded a $331,721 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to increase knowledge, understanding, and stewardship of our local and regional watersheds for students in grade four through high school. Grant funds will be used for teacher professional development and student field investigations.   Debbie Biggs, Curriculum Specialist with Clarke County Public Schools, and I are co-leaders on this three-year project.
The Chesapeake Bay Agreement 2014 states that "every student in the region should graduate with knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed" and that "students should engage in at least one meaningful watershed education experience in elementary, middle and high school." This agreement was signed by Virginia's governor along with the governors of the other five states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia), and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. As a result of this agreement, all seven Departments of Education have developed plans to provide support to school divisions to help meet the education goals of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.

Meeting these goals is a challenge, however, because there are no state funds allocated for this purpose. Because the education goals of the agreement align with NOAA's goals for "An informed society [which] has access to, interest in, and understanding of NOAA-related sciences," NOAA recognizes the importance of providing federal funds in support of these mutual goals and does so through a competitive grant program.

Students will learn about their local Spout Run watershed and how it is connected to the Shenandoah and Potomac River watersheds, and the Chesapeake Bay. They will explore how we use the land in these watersheds, the resources the land provides, and how our activities affect local and regional water quality. Students also will identify, design, and engage in projects to help take care of these vital land and water resources. 

During the project's three years, an estimated 4,200 students and 65 teachers will learn about watershed systems. Teachers at each grade level will guide students through watershed projects that interweave lessons from science, mathematics, social studies, and language arts with learning that takes place both inside and outside the classroom.

We are excited to receive this funding and to have the opportunity to partner with NOAA and Clarke County Public Schools on this ambitious project.
Keeping Up with the Latest Trends
Interweaving Science with Mathematics and Language Arts

By Emily Ford
Lead Environmental Educator
The Blandy Education team continuously evaluates our outdoor field investigations to improve and adjust programs based on current K-12 education research and trends. At the forefront of education practice today is interdisciplinary learning, which interweaves several disciplines (such as science, math, language arts, social science, music, and art). These learning experiences allow students to deepen their understanding by applying different ideas and skills in new ways, preparing students for success in an interdisciplinary career and for solving problems encountered during their lives.

Over the past couple of years, we have made many interdisciplinary learning additions to our 15 educator-led programs, blending science with many other subjects. For example, in the ecosystem-focused Virginia Natives program, students create haiku poems about forest creatures, combining language arts with science. During the Rocks Talk program, students develop science and math skills to determine rock density. 

Students compare the length of a snake to the lengths of their own bodies.
This past school year, increased interest in our Snake Savvy program prompted us to think of ways to incorporate interdisciplinary learning about snakes. For our most recent innovation to the program, upper elementary students researched native Virginia snakes using A Guide to Snakes of Virginia, by Pinder & Mitchell, 2007, ( language arts) to gain an understanding of snake diversity (science) and then, measure and compare snake lengths (mathematics). Student pairs practice collaborative learning as they practice reading skills such as using a table of contents and locating key words to research different snake species. They measure out the length of the snake on re-purposed register tape rolls, developing mathematics skills of addition and using metric and standard units. Through research, they learn about snake habitats, diets, camouflage and adaptations. The activity culminates in the entire class creating a comparison graph of the lengths of the snakes of Virginia.  As the students are measuring, researching using non-fiction texts, and comparing and contrasting, several subjects are woven together providing  contextual learning (students making connections and finding meaning based on their own experiences).

The entire class creates a comparison graph of the lengths of the snakes of Virginia.
In addition, students gain an appreciation for snakes, an often undervalued and misunderstood group of organisms, and the students drive their own learning rather than receiving instructor-delivered teaching. 
As students begin visiting Blandy for our fall investigations, we are excited to teach these interdisciplinary lessons and we will continue to find other innovative ways to integrate this type of learning into our education programs. We also are working with several educators who teach different subjects to help them collaborate on their lessons to create authentic learning experiences similar to our Snake Savvy program. We hope teachers who come to our programs also learn from our modeling of these integrated activities as they prepare to create their own within their schools.

Blandy's Education Team Welcomes a New Member
Leah Chaldares Brings Experience, Passion to the Job

By Candace Lutzow-Felling
Director of Education
Leah Chaldares
Leah Chaldares joined the Blandy Education Team in August just in time to help with an intensive two-day professional development workshop with Clarke County Public School elementary, middle and high school teachers. 

Leah has a Masters' degree in Science Education and is a certified middle school science teacher with four years teaching experience with Greene County Public Schools. Leah has a deep passion for educating youth about nature; her goal is to " help ensure everyone can access the outdoors, for physical and emotional growth and to create impactful experiences outdoors and a desire to help practice conservation of those lands."

During her years as a 6th grade teacher, she created many opportunities to take her students outside to explore, record, and investigate nature sounds, sights, smells, and textures. She also engaged her students in environmental stewardship projects such as reducing plastic waste in their homes and at school. During her professional teaching journey, Leah realized that she desired to use her teaching skills in an outdoor setting, which brought her to Blandy. 

We are thrilled to have Leah join our education team. In addition to serving as an Environmental Educator with Blandy's preK-12 education programs, Leah also will work with public programs in the summer and winter helping to create family-friendly programs and summer youth camps. Please join us in welcoming Leah to our team!
Jessica Perez and Dyess Harp take soil core samples for nitrogen analysis.

High School Research Interns Explore Science at Blandy
Students Assist with Projects, Thanks to FOSA Donors

By David Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
Now more than ever, the world needs bright young minds entering the fields of science and technology. Since its earliest days, Blandy has trained graduate students for careers in science, and since the mid-1980s, the National Science Foundation has enabled us to train undergraduates through the Research Experience for Undergraduates program. In the summer of 2017, through the generosity of FOSA donors, we began a trial program in which we brought high school students into our research program. Funding from the James R. Wilkins Charitable Trust now ensures that this program will be able to extend through the next several years.
Our summer internships, named for the late Dr. Arthur Schwarzchild, whose program at the University of Virginia's Virginia Coast Reserve inspired our program, provide the opportunity for area high school students to spend the summer working with our graduate and undergraduate students and faculty. Interns receive a stipend that enables them to assist in a variety of research projects for two months during the summer, spending six hours a day, five days a week in the field, lab, and greenhouse. We are especially interested in students who are thinking of majoring in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math when they get to college, and we are trying to encourage "first generation" college students to apply.
This past summer, Dyess Harp from Clarke County High School and Jessica Perez from Sherando High School served as assistants on projects that examined habitat quality for bumble bees, the effects of light pollution on plants and their herbivores, the effects of heavy metal soil contaminants on plant root growth, and changes in ecosystem services as land transitions from agricultural fields to young forests. Both of them told us that the program made it easier to see themselves in a science career, and they both left the program feeling more confident about their ability to make that happen.
Feedback from the students about the program has been overwhelmingly positive:
"There were a lot of surprising things I learned this summer," said Perez. "It was a little harder than expected, but it was always fun going out in the field and experiencing something different every day."
"The environment was very welcoming, so I wasn't afraid to ask questions, and this allowed me to learn things about working in the sciences. For example, I really understood how much work and effort a project takes," said 2017 intern Addie Pratt. "To work in science, one also has to be creative and a bit of an engineer no matter what you go into."
Clearly, the unique opportunity provides them a window into the inspiration and the perspiration that makes doing science challenging, exciting, and ultimately rewarding.
Application information will be distributed to science teachers and coordinators at our local high schools. If you know high school students who would be a good fit for our program, tell them to be on the lookout for announcements or ask their science teachers. If you are a local educator who is interested in learning more about this program, contact me at The application deadline will be April 1, 2019.
Lauren Emer and Geoff Miller teach students in Blandy Summer Nature Camp about plant defenses.
A Busy Summer of Exciting Discoveries
Summer of Research Produces a Lifetime of Memories 

By Kyle Haynes
Associate Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
Even though we opened up new housing at Blandy for visiting researchers by converting the former arborist's Stone Cottage into lodging for researchers, it was a real struggle accommodating everyone. First, Blandy's buildings staff had to race to renovate the Stone Cottage in time for the arrival of researchers in early summer. Then, the faculty and office staff puzzled over calendars and housing requests to figure out how to meet the demand. All of our housing infrastructure was needed to accommodate the more than 40 researchers that visited Blandy this summer. It was all worth it - supporting research is a big part of what we do at Blandy.

Faculty and students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, hailing from a number of universities sought to answer a wide variety of novel and exciting scientific questions. Two undergraduate students participating in Blandy's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, Lauren Emer (North Carolina State University) and Geoffrey Miller (Goshen College) teamed up with graduate student Melissa Hey (University of Virginia) and me to study the impacts of nighttime light pollution on interactions between common milkweed and monarch butterfly caterpillars. Plants and animals have developed many adaptations to the natural daily cycle of sunlight and darkness, and it is not known how most species have been affected by the loss of nighttime darkness that has occurred in many areas where humans dwell. 

To explore some of these effects, Geoff and Lauren grew common milkweed plants in Blandy's research greenhouse and exposed half of their plants to nighttime light pollution. The remaining plants experienced darkness from sunset to sunrise. Over a period of several weeks, Lauren and Geoff tracked effects on the growth of milkweed plants and their production of defenses against insect herbivores. Oddly, no effects of light pollution on milkweed were found, but the exposure of plants to light pollution influenced aspects of the feeding behavior and performance of monarch caterpillars. For example, caterpillars fed leaves from plants exposed to light pollution ate more slowly than caterpillars fed leaves from plants grown under natural lighting conditions. In addition, caterpillars raised on leaves from plants that experienced natural lighting conditions grew larger than caterpillars raised on leaves from plants exposed to light pollution. Answers to what differed between plants in the two experimental treatments that caused the differing responses of the caterpillars may be forthcoming. This fall, the research team plans on carrying out chemical analyses of leaf tissue samples.

At the end of each summer, an anonymous and impartial panel of judges chooses two winners of the Tom Callahan Undergraduate Research Awards. These awards are given at the conclusion of the Research Forum, a public symposium where each REU student presents the findings from his or her  research project. One of the Callahan Awards is given for the best presentation and the other is given for the most creative project. 

Arquel Miller basks among her research subjects.
Howard University's Arquel Miller earned the award for best presentation. Arquel's findings shed light on plant behaviors that are relatively unknown because they take place underground. She found that the roots of a plant species, Alyssum corsicum, that obtains nickel from the soil and then uses the toxic metal to defend itself from herbivores, preferentially grew into soil containing high concentrations of nickel. In contrast, roots of the closely related species, Alyssum montanum, which does not use nickel as a defense mechanism, showed no preference for, or avoidance of, soil containing nickel. 

Ilana Zeitzer takes a break while hiking Old Rag Mountain.
Ilana Zeitzer, from Dickinson College, won the award for most creative project. She examined how two mutualisms - a mutualism is an interaction between two species that is beneficial to both of the species involved - between plants and microbes act in concert to affect plant fitness and a plant-ant mutualism. Plants and ants engage in a number of different types of mutualistic interactions. In Ilana's study system, the plant, Showy Partridge Pea, provides nectar for ants that defend the plant from herbivorous insects. Ilana found that both rhizobia, bacteria that often help plants acquire nitrogen, and mycorrhizae, fungi that exchange water and minerals with plants for carbohydrates, may be necessary for the Showy Partridge Pea to maintain its mutualistic relationship with ants.

We are thrilled that another cohort of students was able to get first-hand experience carrying out cutting-edge research and we are already looking forward to the arrival of a new set of students next summer.
Public Gardens Intern Cara Potter (center) spent her summer working and learning at Blandy, but also made a few friends including volunteer Jason Labrador and Assistant Curator Carrie Whitacre.
Sweat Equity
Public Gardens Intern Works Alongside Staff, Volunteers

By Cara Potter
Public Gardens Intern
Being the Public Gardens Intern this past summer has been an invaluable learning experience. I would like to thank the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club for their generous support of this internship, my primary mentor, Carrie Whitacre, for her direct guidance and encouragement, and the entire community at Blandy for their kindness and warmth. This summer, I was able to work with talented educators during two of Blandy's summer camps, learn alongside the dedicated garden volunteers each week, and gain experience planning and managing gardens with the help of Carrie Whitacre, Assistant Curator of Herbaceous Gardens, Kim Strader, Assistant Curator of the Native Plant Trail, Chris Schmidt, Arborist, and T'ai Roulston, Arboretum Curator. I was also given opportunities to collaborate with Koy Mislowsky, Volunteer Coordinator, in event planning and preparation, as well as Tim Farmer, Public Relations Coordinator, to create new plant labels for the Pollination Garden. Growing up in Berryville, I have always thought Blandy was the most amazing place and I will forever remember this opportunity to be a part of the unique, kind, and diverse community that converges here.
New Wayfinding Signs
Help Orient Visitors 

Seven newly installed wayfinding signs will help Arboretum visitors as they traverse the grounds and explore the collections.

The signs are located near the information kiosk, Peetwood Pavilion, the Hewlett Lewis Overlook Pavilion, the Ginkgo Grove, the Native Plant Meadow, the Bridle Trail Paddock, and along the loop drive near the Beech collection.

It's Easy to Support the Foundation and Blandy!
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Overview of Blandy Experimental Farm
Learn more about ways to support the Arboretum.