Category: Education

Field Notes

Evergreens? Ever Useful!

January 13, 2023 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator In a bare winter landscape, our eyes are often drawn to any remnants of green, stirring the memory and promise of warmer days. But our native evergreens have winter value far beyond their looks. Perhaps the greatest winter benefits of evergreens go to wildlife. Plants that keep their foliage through the winter provide thermal cover, or protection from cold temperatures. Dark needles absorb... Read More

Field Notes

A Getaway in the Middle of It All

December 22, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Are you looking for a family day trip during the school holidays? Consider the Conway Robinson State Forest in Gainesville, where you can slow your pace and your kids can expend some year-end energy. Imagine more than 400 acres of woodland placed right next to sprawling subdivisions, near the busy junction of Interstate 66 and US Route 29. That’s the “Con Rob” (as... Read More

Field Notes

Holiday DIY from the Yard

December 2, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Want to save some money during the spending season? With a little creativity, you can get a lot of holiday décor from your own yard. Decorating with what I have on hand gives me a sense of efficiency, as well as a connection with my paternal grandmother. Growing up in the rural South, she often foraged for wild foods like “creasy greens” (winter... Read More

Field Notes

Does Every Picture Tell a Story?

October 13, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, Area Forester This summer, my colleague Evan Richardson was asked by a landowner to prepare a Forest Stewardship Plan on a newly acquired property in southern Suffolk. One of his concerns was the management of a pond on the property. As foresters, our expertise is in trees and forests. Our officemates at the Portsmouth Office, however, work for Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The relationship we... Read More

Field Notes

A Prickly Problem

October 5, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Did you know that one of Virginia’s State Forests was established specifically for research on a single species? That site is the Lesesne State Forest, located at the base of Three Ridges Mountain in Nelson County. The species is the iconic American chestnut (Castanea dentata). American chestnut was once so abundant and ecologically important that it was considered a foundation species. But in... Read More

Field Notes

Far-Flung Seeds

September 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Plants are endlessly fascinating. Not only do they make their own food out of water, air, and light, but some lead exciting lives that put James Bond to shame. Theirs is a world of hostile takeovers, pollination trickery, chemical warfare, and ingenious travel methods. I may have a minor obsession with how seeds move from place to place, given that this is my... Read More

Field Notes

Native Plants for Hummingbirds

July 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator You’re working in the garden when you notice a low-pitched hum, and you look around for its source. Could it be a territorial carpenter bee? A clumsy June beetle? Someone’s tiny, wayward drone? No, it’s a hummingbird – our favorite feathered pollinator! The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species that breeds in the East, although you might see an occasional rufous hummingbird during... Read More

Field Notes

The Ant-Plant Connection

May 19, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Readers of my Field Notes posts will know that I like to introduce nerdy words. Today I have two: elaiosome (pronounced eh-LIE-uh-sohm) and myrmecochory (pronounced mer-me-ko-CORE-e). Together they describe a fascinating connection between ants and plants. Myrmecochory is a seed dispersal strategy used by some familiar plants. It means their seeds are carried away by ants! Myrmecochorous seeds have attached structures called elaiosomes.... Read More

Field Notes

A Park, a Planting, a Partnership

April 18, 2022 - By Delaney Beattie, VDOF Riparian Buffer Specialist- James River Buffer Program At Greene County Community Park, partners recently came together for the simple act of planting a tree. Thirty trees and shrubs, to be exact – and there are more to come. Greene County Community Park covers 70 acres and is the only public park in Greene County. The land is mostly open fields, but Quarter Creek runs through the... Read More

Field Notes

A Pollinator Primer

March 28, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, VDOF Senior Area Forester Recently, I attended the Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals meeting held in Staunton, VA.  There were many great topics discussed over the day and a half long conference.  I will admit I was there for the pesticide recertification credits I could earn. You never know what you will get when you attend a pesticide recertification meeting, but this agenda was quite varied... Read More