Category: Education

Stories

In Memory of Page Hutchinson

February 4, 2021 - The Virginia Department of Forestry is mourning the loss of Page Hutchinson, Virginia’s Project Learning Tree Coordinator and member of the VDOF family, after she passed away unexpectedly this week. Page was a leader in the environmental education community. Beyond the work she did to build Virginia’s PLT program, Page worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Master Naturalists, and the Virginia Association for Environmental Educators. In... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Fruits of Fall

October 13, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator With the autumn foliage season getting underway, it’s easy to miss a key feature of Virginia’s fall landscape: fruits. First, a disclaimer: Don’t eat wild fruits unless you can identify them positively and know they are safe. Many can be eaten by wildlife, but are toxic or even deadly to humans. In wildlife circles, fleshy or squishy fruit eaten by critters is known... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Milkweed Magic

September 18, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator For a plant with ‘weed’ in its title, milkweed is a pretty awesome plant. It contains toxins called cardiac glyphosides, which deter feeding by most insects and mammals. Despite this trait, a milkweed plant is a little universe unto itself. In fact, one study documented more than 450 species of insects visiting milkweed in a single midwestern field. You probably already know about... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Hitchhiking Seeds

August 31, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator When you think of summer hitchhikers, you probably think of chiggers and ticks. Ick! But did you know that beggar-ticks and harvest lice might also grab a ride on your clothes? Don’t worry, these don’t carry diseases or make you itch. They are the harmless seeds of some of our native plants. Seeds that cling are adapted to travel to new locations on... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Scouting for Trees

August 13, 2020 - An Isle of Wight County Boy Scout recently earned his Eagle rank by designing and installing a tree identification trail at Nike Park in Carrollton, Virginia. Sawyer Cook shared the following story about his project.

Field Notes

Field Notes: Fantastic Ferns

May 15, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, Conservation Educator Woodland walks in May are a study in fresh, vibrant green. Tree canopies have leafed out, shrubs and saplings fill the midstory, and underfoot, ferns and other ground covers sprawl across the leaf litter. Ferns are not flowering plants; their reproduction is altogether different. They have a unique two-phase life cycle. The sporophyte form is the plant we recognize as a fern. It releases spores, which... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Sounds of Spring

April 10, 2020 - by Ellen Powell, conservation educator The flush of green suffusing our woodlands isn’t the only signal that spring is here. If a daily dawn chorus wakes you this month, it likely includes our state bird, the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). This species is a bit unusual, in that both males and females sing, providing a familiar soundtrack in woodland edges and thickets statewide. Learn more about cardinals and listen to... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Good Green, Bad Green

April 7, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, Conservation Educator The calendar and the plants agree – spring has arrived in central Virginia! Patches of green among the leaf litter mean spring wildflowers are making their annual appearance. Often called “ephemerals,” for their short-lived bloom time, those in flower this week include pennywort (Obolaria virginica), star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) and wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). Unfortunately, the shrub layer of many hardwood forests reveals a “dark... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Finding Green in the Winter Woods

March 24, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, Conservation Educator   Central Virginia’s hardwood forests in winter are a study in neutrals; everything is some shade of brown or gray. But look closely at the forest floor, and you’ll see accents of green that hint at spring to come. Low-sprawling Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) displays its fronds all winter. The plant is so-named not only for its holiday greenery, but for its leaflets, shaped like... Read More

Notices

Fired Up about Camp

February 28, 2020 - Did you know there’s a camp where teens get to fight fire? Not a scary western wildfire, but a well-behaved one that actually improves the environment? Last summer, a group of teenagers at Camp Woods & Wildlife learned firsthand how to manage a prescribed fire. These intrepid campers donned fire-retardant gear and set about preparing for a small understory burn. First, they raked a fire line down to bare soil... Read More