This is the latest installment in a series to learn more about who’s doing the work behind the scenes to keep our Chapter running along.
Stephanie Gardner, former HMN Board Historian and Parliamentarian, is conducting a series of online interviews with the members of our current Board of Directors. Here we are featuring Peggy Plass, Chair of the Basic Training Committee.
Peggy scouting photo ops for the Reddish Knob Bird & Wildlife Trail site, May 2016. Photo by Sandy Greene.
How long have you been a Virginia Master Naturalist? Of which Headwaters Master Naturalist cohort are you a member?
I started in 2015, with Cohort 4 (along with Elaine and Brian, who are also currently on the board!)
What is your position on the HMN Board? How long have you been serving?
I’m the training co-ordinator person, but am serving as a sort of “bridge” in that position (I won’t run the next training class, but will help with training the person who will). I did the last training class (the one that had its first meeting on March 12 of 2020….so you can figure how that went from there!)
Have you held other positions on the HMN Board?
Yes! I was also Project Committee chair for 4 years! Loved that.
What is your favorite thing about your role in the chapter?
When I was project chair, I loved getting to know about all the great stuff that everyone was doing, and being the contact person for the initiation of new projects. As training co-ordinator, obviously, the best thing was getting to work with a new class of master naturalists!
What have been some of your most memorable activities/projects as a VMN?
I love the Virginia Working Landscapes projects (I worked on the pollinator project for 4 years, and loved it!). I also really loved doing river clean ups (I still have very fond memories of walking through Middle River beside a canoe when it got too full of discarded tires!). I’ve also loved doing the Spring tree planting at McCormick Farm–that was my first ever volunteer experience as a master naturalist, and I’ve loved returning to it (most years!) since.
What are your future hopes for our chapter?
I’d love to see us expand in the projects that we offer in our community! I’d love to sponsor more “nature gardens” type things in parts of our towns that need those green spaces most, and expose kids to the joys of the natural world in working on them. I’d like for us to have projects that serve disabled members of our community, allowing an expansion of the people who are able to participate in our outings and events. I’d love to have something akin to a Mushroom Club in Harrisonburg, and have HMN sponsor our first foray! And, as always, I’d love to have us expand our involvement in citizen science projects.
Where do you live in the Valley?
I’m in Harrisonburg.
Are you originally from Virginia?
Nope! Grew up in Memphis, went to grad school in New Hampshire, and have lived in Virginia since the early 90s.
Please tell us a little about your past or present career(s).
I’m a professor at JMU in the Justice Studies Department there.
What do you enjoy doing when not volunteering for VMN?
I’m a knitter. I also like biking in our beautiful valley (trying to plan a bike trip to South Dakota for this summer!). I sort of like gardening, although I’m terrible at it, but keep hoping that I’ll improve. I like playing with and taking care of my dog (and cat). Love traveling!
If you were an animal, plant or fungus; what kind would you be?
Definitely a mushroom–I think an indigo lactarius. Something about a blue mushroom (which is also edible!) which is so magical.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Birds. Biking. Bat (monitoring). Getting to see more master naturalists in real life (rather than virtually).