2019 VMN Conference Is in the Books and a Great Success!

The 2019 Virginia Master Naturalist Conference, hosted by Headwaters and held at Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center as well as many other locations in our beautiful area, was a wonderful time for everyone! The weekend was informative and fun! If you weren’t able to attend, enjoy the photos and plan on going next year!

Friday, September 20
We started the conference with optional pre-conference field trips, followed by a welcome reception, dinner and awards presentation, and a campfire with stories and music.

Raft Trip Down the South Fork of the Shenandoah River
Instructor: Paul E. Bugas, Jr., Fisheries Manager, VDGIF

2019_9_20 Raft trip VMN conference

Photo: David Forrer

2019_9_20Raft TripVMN Conference_Island Ford-Elkton

Photo: David Forrer


Saturday, September 21

Black Bears of Virginia
Instructors: David Kocka, District Wildlife Biologist; Michael Pelton, Professor Emeritus, Wildlife Science, The University of Tennessee


Photo: Elizabeth Pass


Photo: Elizabeth Pass


Photo: Elizabeth Pass


American Woodcock Biology and Migration Study
Instructor: Al Bourgeois, DGIF Biologist (ret.)


Elaine Smith holding woodcock wings
Photo: by Peggy Plass


Birding Basics
Instructor: Jessica Ruthenberg, Watchable Wildlife Biologist, VDGIF

Birding Basics at Edith J Carrier Arboretum1.jpg

Photo: by Pam Gray

Birding Basics at Edith J Carrier Arboretum2.jpg

Photo: by Pam Gray


Purcell Park: Stream and Habitat Restoration
Instructor: Rebecca Stimson, Environmental Compliance Manager, City of Harrisonburg Public Works Department


Rebecca Stimson led a field trip highlighting water quality improvement efforts in Harrisonburg’s Purcell Park
Photo: by Adrie Voors


Participants learn about the newly installed woodchip bioreactor buried beneath them
Photo: by Adrie Voors


Saturday Lunch and Door Prizes!


Photo: by Pam Gray


Photo: by Pam Gray


Chronic Wasting Disease in Virginia’s White-tailed Deer
Instructor: Chelsey Faller, Wildlife Disease Biologist, VDGIF


Participants learn how to remove lymph nodes from deer heads to test for Chronic Wasting Disease
Photo: by Adrie Voors


Pocket Tricks for Naturalists
Instructor: Sandy Greene, Education Specialist, Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District (ret.)
Project Learning Tree’s National Outstanding Environmental Educator of the year (2006), Daughters of the American Revolution’s National Education Award (2007), National Wildlife Federation National Conservation Achievement Award (2013)


Photo: by Elizabeth Pass


Photo: by Elizabeth Pass


Wildlife Center of Virginia
Instructor: Alex Wehrung, Outreach Coordinator at VA Wildlife Center



Photo: by Pam Gray


Photo: by Pam Gray


Historical Karst of the Shenandoah, Grand Caverns
Instructor: Brian Lux, founding director, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; professional cave guide; owner, Camp Sequoia

Historic Karst Caverns Field Trip.jpg

Photo: by Pam Gray


Designing Projects to Support Bat Conservation
Instructors: Leslie Sturgis, past zookeeper with Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park; past park naturalist with Montgomery County Parks; founded Bat World NOVA, a satellite rescue center of Bat World Sanctuary (2001)
Peggy S. Plass, Virginia Master Naturalist; coordinated projects related to bat education and conservation for Headwaters for 2 years


The Save Lucy Campaign’s Leslie Sturges teaches about bat conservation issues
Photo: by Adrie Voors


Woody Plant Identification
Instructor: Ellen Powell, Conservation Education Coordinator, Virginia Department of Forestry; author, Common Native Trees of Virginia and Common Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of Virginia


VDOF’s Ellen Powell instructs participants on woody plant ID
Photo: by Adrie Voors


VDOF’s Ellen Powell reviews the use of her woody plant ID books
Photo: by Adrie Voors


Exploring Shenandoah Valley Sinkhole Ponds, Deep Run Ponds Natural Area Preserve
Instructor: Instructor: Michael S. Hayslett, M.S., former biology/environmental science college instructor in Virginia, pioneer of the Master Naturalist Program

2019_9_22 Sinkhole Pond

Photo: David Forrer

2019_9_22 Marble Salamander at sinkhole pond

Photo: David Forrer