Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists

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NNMN will sponsor a Bus Trip to 2 sites on the Northern Neck on 7 Sept

The Virginia Master Naturalist Conference Details are taking shape. 

For the 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist Statewide Conference, NNMN will sponsor a Bus Trip to 2 sites on the Northern Neck on Sept 7, 2018.

One of the decisions of the state conference committee and Michelle Prysby, State Director of the Virginia Master Naturalist is to have one of the “off-site” trip options to conference participants be a trip to the Northern Neck on Friday, September 7, by Bus to and from the Fredericksburg Expo Center. 

On Saturday, September 8, and Sunday, September 9, there will be additional “off-site” trips to areas in “greater Fredericksburg” to include Caledon State Park and the Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve.  Anticipate on Saturday and Sunday that there will be around 10 “off site” trips and continuing education opportunities.

For the Friday 7 September event, the NNMN to host and support the trip to include leading a series of short work shops (interactive learning activities) for participants on the trip.  The committee selected two of the NNK sites nominated by the NNMN - George Washington Birthplace National Monument on the Potomac River and The Nature Conservancy’s Voorhees Preserve/The Westmoreland Berry Farm on the Rappahannock River.  The day is planned for the bus departing The Fredericksburg Expo Center at 9:00AM and returning by 4:00PM.  So the visitors will be at each of the two sites for about 2:20 minutes as the driving time to either of these sites from the Fredericksburg Expo Center is about one hour.Here is a brief description of what is proposed for the Sept 7 trip to the NNK by approximately 35 to 45 VMN.

Virginia’s Northern Neck – Nature and History at its best. This is a day trip to two sites on the Northern Neck in Westmoreland County – George Washington Birthplace National Monument on the Potomac River and the Nature Conservancy’s Voorhees Preserve/The Westmoreland Berry Farm on the Rappahannock River.  While traveling by Bus - to and from the Fredericksburg Conference Center - a narrative will be provided of the historic and ecological significance of sites along the route.  At the locations there will be a series of hands-on interactive learning activities themed to:

  • Birds and Mammals
  • Virginia History and Land Use
  • Plants and Insects
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Virginia Rivers and Aquatic Life
  • Citizen Science and wildlife census activities

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsulas (traditionally called "necks" in Virginia) on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in the Commonwealth of Virginia (the other two are the Middle Peninsula and the Virginia Peninsula). This peninsula is bounded by the Potomac River on the north and the Rappahannock River on the south. It encompasses the following Virginia counties: Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland and frequently King George is included in descriptions of the Northern Neck.

Virginia’s Northern Neck Peninsula is the “birthplace of our nation” with three of the first five American presidents being born here, along with other prominent families that helped form the nation and its Declaration of Independence.  It is a land where generations of watermen and farmers still flourish to this day.

Accessible from the popular Westmoreland Berry Farm, Voorhees Nature Preserve offers trails with scenic views of the Rappahannock River, including two overlook spots. Birding at Voorhees is excellent, with frequent sightings of bald eagles. This preserve protects 729 acres of forest and freshwater tidal marsh along the Rappahannock River.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a National Park Service site.  Today, the monument includes the historic birthplace area, the burial grown, and a working colonial farm.  Heritage livestock, poultry, and crops are raised on the farm to show farming techniques common during colonial times.  A colonial herb and flower garden are included on the grounds. The property Popes Creek area, and Potomac beaches are excellent for birdwatchers and seeing butterflies. By the time of George Washington’s birth in 1732 on the marshy shore of Popes Creek, his family had been on the land for three quarters of a century.  The National Monument preserves much of the character of the 18th Century tobacco plantation where he lived until he was about four.

Both sites are on the Northern Neck Loop of the Coastal Segment of The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT)

Hiking is involved in activities at each site. There are rolling hills and “up-hill” stretches of trails. All of the hiking will be on roads, paths, and trails.  The trails are typical of those found in natural area preserves and parks.

I am looking for ideas from within the chapter for a for series of hands-on interactive learning activities themed to the topics below that we can sequence for the visitors on Sept 7:

  • Birds and Mammals
  • Virginia History and Land Use
  • Plants and Insects
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Virginia Rivers and Aquatic Life
  • Citizen Science and wildlife census activities

An example of an interactive activity is splitting a decaying log along one of the ponds at these sites and identifying the species present.  Kevin Howe has volunteered to lead that learning activity.  Another example is a meadow field walk to identify the flora and fauna present.   The activities will be led by our chapter and include support from sponsoring agencies and staff members of the visited sites.

 

NewsletterJeff Wright