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The Pollinator
News from the Virginia Master Naturalist Program
Fall 2021
box turtle eating a mushroom
red eft on a log with fungi
These two photos were the top winners, receiving the most "likes", of the informal photo contest that was part of the VMN 2021 Virtual Conference. Interestingly, both photos are of a herpetofauna-fungus combination!

Top: Woodland Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) eating a bolete fungus. Box turtles are omnivores that eat a wide variety of foods, including mushrooms, but also fruits, worms, insects, slugs, and more. Photo by Teresa Mewborn, VMN Southern Piedmont Chapter

Bottom: Red eft (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens) and crust fungi. Red efts are the juvenile stage of the red-spotted newt. While the egg, larval, and adult stages of the newt are aquatic, the eft stage is terrestrial and often found roaming in forests, away from the water. Photo by Penny Firth, VMN Arlington Regional Chapter.
Dear VMN Supporter ,
We hope you enjoy this Fall 2021 edition of The Pollinator. This newsletter only goes out to subscribers, so we encourage you to forward this issue to others and to invite them to subscribe to future issues. Follow the links below each article to read the full articles, which are posted on the VMN website
From the State Program Office
Dear Virginia Master Naturalist Community,

Happy Fall! It was wonderful to interact with many VMN volunteers in the virtual space of our 2021 Statewide Conference. We were able to accommodate hundreds more volunteers in the virtual format than we have ever been able to accommodate in person. Some statistics: 416 registrants from 30 chapters, 11 live sessions, 11 pre-recorded sessions, 436 photos shared, and 1,518 messages in 60 different topics posted on the community discussion board! In addition, many chapters held in person nature walks and service events, so participants also had a chance to step away from the computer and get outdoors. I thank all of our participants, presenters, and chapter leaders for their contributions to the event.

Other state office events for Fall 2021 (Leadership Month, Diversity & Inclusion webinar series) are also in the virtual format, so we hope that VMN volunteers from around the state will join us for those.

Michelle D. Prysby
VMN Program Director & Extension Associate
Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Updates and Opportunities
Update Your VMN Profile on Better Impact
As the end of the year approaches, we ask that all active VMN volunteers log on to our new volunteer management system.

Better Impact logo
Better Impact logo.
Join Us for the Diversity & Inclusion Webinar Series
We invite natural resource educators to our Diversity & Inclusion webinar series. The first event is Monday, November 1! 

people outdoors preparing a garden
One of our November 1 presenters, Atiya Wells, will talk about BLISS Meadows, a land reclamation project in Baltimore. Photo by Atiya Wells.
Help Us Do More Education & Outreach!
VMN volunteers who like doing education & outreach of any kind are invited to join our new Educators Bureau.

volunteer showing salamander eggs to students
VMN volunteer Harry Puffenberger shares his enthusiasm for vernal pools with students. Photo by Maria Cannata, VMN Central Rappahannock Chapter.
It's Election Season and Your Chapter Needs You
By being on a chapter committee or serving on the board, volunteers make new connections with others in their chapter, develop leadership skills, and are instrumental in helping to make the VMN program valuable and impactful in their community.

colorful hands raised in the air
All hands on deck! Image from
Contribute to the Cleopatra Project
A team of VMN volunteers are producing a new publication, "The Cleopatra Project - Poisonous and Venomous Animals in Virginia", and they can use your help.

bright red and black insect
Velvet Ant "Cow Killer" - Dasymutilla occidentalis, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia. Photo by Judy Gallagher, VMN Merrimac Farm Chapter. CC BY 2.0.
Volunteer News
VMN Volunteers Help Virginia's Urban and Community Forests
Urban forests are a critical part of Virginia's green infrastructure, especially as the state becomes increasingly urbanized each year. Here we share a StoryMap that shows some of the ways VMN volunteers are improving urban forest health and educating people about the importance of trees.

group of volunteers posed in park with garden tools and VMN sign
VMN volunteers in the Riverine Chapter have been improving the green infrastructure of Bryan Park in Richmond through tree plantings, native plant gardens, and invasive species management. They also regularly talk to park visitors about the importance of native plants. Photo by Jean Hollings, VMN Riverine Chapter.
Laurels - Fall 2021
Each quarter, we invite VMN chapters to share stories of volunteers' awards and accomplishments. Our Laurels posts are not only a way to provide recognition to those volunteers, but also an opportunity to inspire other volunteers.

This quarter, learn how one young volunteer completed her Gold Award and helped to protect her local watershed, how VMN volunteers are caring for an Eastern Shore nature preserve, and more!

volunteer labeling a storm drain
Volunteer labeling stormwater drains. Photo contributed by Mackenzie Nordai, VMN Fairfax Chapter.
From Our Sponsors
VDOF and VCE - Laurel Wilt Alert
Keep an eye out for a new disease that has arrived in Virginia and can impact sassafrass, spicebush, and redbay.

sassafras trees turning brown
Leaf symptoms of laurel wilt disease (Raffaelea lauricola) in a group of small sassafrass trees. Photo by Chip Bates, Georgia Forestry Commission,
DWR - Wild Turkey Summer Brood Survey Results
The Department would like to thank the many volunteers of the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation chapters and the Virginia Master Naturalists for their survey participation in 2021 and to share the survey findings.

female wild turkey in grass
Female wild turkey. Photo by Judy Gallagher, VMN Merrimac Farm Chapater, CC BY 2.0
DEQ - Virginia Leading By Example to Reduce Plastic Pollution and Solid Waste
If you missed the presentation on Executive Order 77: Virginia Leading By Example to Reduce Plastic Pollution and Solid Waste at the VMN Conference, read on for more about this statewide effort.

discarded plastic bottle floating in water
Photo contributed by Ann Regn, VDEQ
VIMS CCRM - Nature-based solutions
The Center for Coastal Resources Management has a new site where you can learn all about natural and nature-based features that provide benefits in coastal communities.

marsh and rocky border along a waterway
Marsh-sill at the VIMS campus. Photo by Karen Duhring, VIMS CCRM.
DCR - Virginia Pollinator Smart Team holds the first Virginia Native Seed Industry Meeting
DCR and partner organizations are establishing the first Virginia Native Seed Growers’ Business Advisory Committee.

solar panel surrounded by yellow wildflowers
This solar site at Cople Elementary School in Westmoreland County, Virginia is the first 'Gold Certified Pollinator-Smart habitat" in the state, using native plants to vegetate the area under and around the panels. Photo by Michelle Prysby.
VMNH - #BenInNature
If you are a Facebook user and looking for some terrific natural history stories about native species in Virginia, you will enjoy the #BenInNature posts!


Did you know we rely on your donations to accomplish many of the activities described in this newsletter? For example, we used your gifts as a required match for the grant that is supporting our Educators Bureau creation and our Diversity and Inclusion webinar series! Plus, your gifts help pay VMN program staff, provide recognition items and awards for volunteers, and other necessary program expenses. We are fortunate to receive annual funding from our sponsoring agencies, but that funding does not cover all of our budget. Please consider supporting the VMN program now with a year-end gift!
For information on giving by check, visit our website.
The Virginia Master Naturalist program is co-sponsored by the following state agencies:
logos of Virginia Cooperative Extension, DCR, DOF, DEQ, DWR, VIMS-CCRM, VMNH
This edition of The Pollinator was compiled by Michelle Prysby (VMN Program Director). Contributors included Shannon Alexander (VDCR), Bonnie Beers (VMN-Old Rag Chapter), Barry Buschow (VMN-Old Rag Chapter), Katlin DeWitt (VDOF), Mike Dye (VDWR), Morgan Goodman (VDEQ), Alfred Goossens (VMN-Rivanna Chapter), René Hypes (VDCR), Katie Martin (VDWR), Mackenzie Nordai (VMN-Fairfax Chapter), Ellen Powell (VDOF), Janet Quinn (VMN-Fairfax Chapter), Ann Regn (VDEQ), Jeff Stehm (VMN-Old Rag Chapter), Charlene Uhl (VMN-Old Rag Chapter), Tiffany Brown (VMN Project Assistant); and Terri Keffert (VMN Volunteer Coordinator).

We welcome submissions from chapters, volunteers, sponsors, and partners about initiatives that would be of interest to our audience. Please contact Michelle Prysby if you have something to share.
Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.