VMN Regional Conference at Holiday Lake


Attentive VMN audience for the post-lunch panel discussion with representatives of our sponsoring agencies.

It was an early start, even for someone who gets up every weekday at 5:30am. On Saturday August 29, 2015, I met Chris Bowlen and Adrie Voors at 6:45am in Grottoes to go to the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox for the Virginia Master Naturalist regional conference. Jerry Hopkins made the two hour drive separately, filling his car with Sandy Greene, Gretchen Achenbach and Carl Droms.

It was worth the early rising!

We arrived late (due to extenuating circumstance) but quickly got ourselves settled in our morning sessions. Eric Jones joined Chris and me for the Blue Ridge PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) session about invasive plants. Rod Walker provided a lot of good information about the PRISM program, including the Mid Atlantic Early Detection Network and the EDDMapS (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System) app.

Adrie and Carl attended the session on freshwater fish ecology presented by HMN Chapter Advisor Paul Bugas, Aquatics Manager for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. See Carl’s photos from this below.

We had brought along our striking monarch display board which we were able to show off in the dining room during lunch, alongside other chapters’ displays. After a good lunch and some socializing it was time for the afternoon sessions. Again Chris and I were together, along with Eric Jones, at the RareQuest presentation. Chris Ludwig and Tom Smith talked about this exciting new initiative through the Natural Heritage Program. Recruiting has closed for this project, but more information can be found on the original announcement webpage.

Afternoon sessions included a presentation by Kate Guenther, HMN CoHort I, on wildlife emergencies: how to Assess, Assist, Capture and Transport Injured and Orphaned Wildlife, knowledge Kate has earned on the job working at the Wildlife Center of Virginia for the past four years.

Adrie, Jerry and Carl spent the afternoon learning about GPS navigation from Bill Perry, Area Forester Specialist for the VA Department of Forestry in the James River area. Adrie says she was really impressed with Bill’s ability to clearly explain how to use a compass and particularly enjoyed the outdoor orienteering part of the class.

It was a great day, a long day, but lots of good information in a lovely setting.

– by Elaine Smith, 2015 Training Class