Tag Archives: landscape

First Day of Fall at Menokin

Fall is finally (kinda, sorta) in the air in the Northern Neck. A drizzly morning, that has since transformed into a sunny day, offered an extravaganza of autumny images for my itchy shutter finger. Enjoy my walk through the Menokin landscape.

And Happy Autumn!

 

 

Menokin Launches A New Era In The Northern Neck

The Menokin Foundation celebrated the Grand Opening of the newly improved road and water access to Cat Point Creek at the end of November.

Several people were on hand to enjoy a reception with great food (can you say “freshly fried catfish?”), good memories and a trip down the trail to the water.

Only two and a half brave souls took to the water in kayaks on the sparkling cold day. But we look forward to welcoming more kayak and canoe enthusiasts in the years to come.

A special thanks to the National Park Service for their $99,000 grant through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network to make this project a reality!

“Intern”pretations – Episode 1: Emily

emily lyth has been an intern at menokin since april 2014. she lives in richmond county with her family and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree from drexel university’s online degree program.

“I started visiting the trails at Menokin back in April. As a new intern, I felt it was important to educate myself about The Menokin Foundation. To me, that meant going beyond simply learning about Francis Lightfoot Lee and the history of the Menokin house; I wanted to explore the land and the property that are such an intrinsic part of Menokin’s story.

So when the weather got a little warmer, I laced up my hiking shoes, charged my iPod, and spent most of my Saturday traveling the beautiful paths through the woods and along Cat Point Creek. Though I hadn’t anticipated it, that was the beginning of a new weekend tradition for me ─ one that has become a great source of relaxation in my life.

The following weekend, I added my camera, some homework, and a book to my backpack and spent the afternoon taking pictures of nature and the wildlife, catching up on homework, and reading.

Whether it’s just to walk and mess around with my camera while I listen to music or to sit at the picnic table by the creek and do homework and read, spending time at Menokin is now something I look forward to after a long or stressful week; the whole property offers a peaceful solitude that can’t be found anywhere else.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve learned that visiting Menokin with friends is a fun way to spend the day enjoying nature, and visiting alone is a great way to relax, de-stress, and clear my mind. Menokin has become like my own little sanctuary ─­­ the place I escape to when I need time alone or need to unwind.

Since I started interning at Menokin, I have felt that I’m part of an organization and experience that is truly special, and I think the property and trails are a great reflection of that feeling.”

Internpretations are blog posts authored by our interns. this glimpse of menokin and its place in the lives of these college students is our attempt to represent an alternative point of view ofa menokin experience. the only instructions are “write about your experience here.” we hope to feature an internpretation each week.

PHOTOS © EMILY LYTH, 2014

Bug of the Week – Eight-spotted Forester Moth

This Eight-spotted Forester Moth (Alypia octomaculata) was feasting on the flowering winterberry bush outside my office window. Those puffy orange knees caught my eye and I had to go out to investigate.

The first few photo attempts were fruitless, as the moth flitted away as soon as I got close enough. Persistence paid off, however, and this flashy fellow got used to me and let me snap away.

First google search of “black and white moth with orange legs” hit the jackpot with enough information to make you a virtual  Eight-spotted Forester Moth Expert.

Here are the tidbits that I found most interesting:

  • The EsFM is a smallish (1 ½ inch wingspread), flashy, day-flying moth that is often mistaken for a butterfly when it’s nectaring on flowers. While not knobbed like a butterfly’s, its antennae are slim (simple), not feathery. It has black wings with two cream-colored spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hind wing (= 8). Its body and legs are also black, accented by yellow “epaulets” called tegulae on the thorax at the base of each wing and by startling tufts of orange hairs at the tops of its first and second pairs of legs. One theory is that the orange tufts resemble the packed pollen baskets of a bee.
  • Their body and wings are black, there are two yellow spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hindwing….and of course those gorgeous orange tufts on their legs, that seriously look like stockings. The eight distinctive spots on their wings is where their species name comes from….octomaculata literally translates into 8-spotted.
  • The moth flies from April to June in one generation in the north. In the south it has a second generation, which flies in August.

A few other flying friends were at the party. This lightening bug seemed to think that the winterberry blossoms tasted just fine.

History on the Go: Making history come alive in our schools

Virginia is steeped in history, much of it originating in the Northern Neck. Yet the reality of our locals schools means bare-bones budgets, and few or no field trips for students to learn about and explore the myriad historic venues right here in their back yards.

web_S4pictures-3413Enter History on the Go. This local program provides regional elementary and middle school students an overview of some of the great educational resources available to them within the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Collaborating cultural institutions develop presentations and coordinate with the schools for an immersion event.  Five or six stations are set up in the school gymnasium or auditorium. Each class rotates around the room to visit every station, spending 15 minutes learning about, and participating in, a different activity related to that particular site.

On December 4th participating organizations brought their messages to Richmond County Elementary 4th and 5th graders. A whopping 176 students shared in these programs:

Belle Isle State ParkAnimal Adaptations. This station exhibited various animal skins and casts of various footprints. Students learned about living and hunting habits of native species in this region.

Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library – 18th century school, reading and writing. Students discussed a one room classroom environment, using a replica of a classroom.  The students practiced writing on slates and used a quill pen on paper. Discipline and games were also discussed.

Middlesex Museum and Historical SocietyHistorical documents and court web_S4pictures-3411cases. Students reviewed copies of original court records re slaves, property and possessions, and insurance documents and discussed the importantance of record keeping.

Reedville Fisherman Museum – Life cycle and history of oysters and watermen. Showed live oysters and discussed the body makeup (heart, how they breathe, etc.) Students use tongs to transfer oysters and discussed the work of the local watermen.

Richmond County Museum – Indian exhibit and pictograghs. Pointed out the living habits and clothing, medicine, diet, use of tools of Virginia’s indigenous peoples.

Menokin Foundation – Maps and Watershed. Menokin’s Education Coordinator Alice French, and intern Allie Lyth, introduced the word and concept of conservation. Students got a brief history of Francis Lightfoot Lee and how Menokin is using historic conservation in preserving his house.

web_S4pictures-3386They also learned about Menokin’s environmental conservation practices and got to compare a variety of maps,* learning about the types of information these different kinds of maps give us. They then looked at our site and surrounding sites showing the entire Northern Neck in its Rappahannock River Watershed.

*Maps
Captain John Smithʼs early maps of Virginia
Topographic contour maps
Aerial maps
Road maps
Waterway mapsMenokin’s Activity involved studying a map of waterways and locating the headwaters, the tributaries, and the mainstream, and connecting the ends of the river to identify the watershed. The students then became a human

watershed and passed water down through it, learning how water moves within a watershed, that everything surrounding a river affects our water, and that we all use the same water over and over, and that is why conservation is so important.

By participating in programs like History on the Go, Menokin continues to focus and act on its mission to provide educational and cultural opportunities to our regional communities and beyond.

Exploring The Watershed Through Art

web_Complete-MuralThe students of Mrs. Ptucha’s 6th-grade science classes at Richmond County Intermediate School had the opportunity to dive into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed recently – with paint and brushes. The students participated in a Project WET activity, Make-a-Mural.

They created a mural depicting various aspects of the Northern Neck watershed area, including its landscape, people, cultures, and natural residents – both plant and animal.

The objective of the project was for the students to define the term watershed;web_mural-painting identify their local watershed and illustrate it, including water resource issues within it.

Using resource information such as an Enviroscape of Menokin and Watershed Maps, and a diagram of the main components of a watershed (Air, Land, Water, People & Transportation, Architecture, History and Tradition) the students listed examples of each category that are included in their local watershed.

web_watershed-map

Lastly they studied History & Traditions: what are ways resources have been used in the past that are different from how they are used today? Using the example of Menokin’s cultures and traditions, these ideas were discussed:

  • The biggest influence on the watershed can be understood through the categories of People and Traditions.
  • Menokin’s people begin with the Rappahannock Indian Tribes, Francis Lightfoot Lee and subsequent owners, including the current Menokin Foundation.
  • The Land and its use has changed some over time. Originally used mostly for farming and grazing, most of the land is now under a conservation easement and only a small portion is cultivated.
  • The Menokin Foundation is now developing the site as an educational and cultural center with a focus on historic and environmental education. As a result, more buildings may be added to the landscape to accommodate these goals. There are also plans to further develop the trail system for visitors use. In doing so, what sort of BMPs (best management practices) should need to be considered for each area of the watershed?

With all of this new-found knowledge and food for thought swirling in their heads, web_paint-and-brushesthe students were then asked to begin on the mural. Using foam core panels, and acrylic paint, each student worked on designated portions of the watershed – air, land and water.

As you can see from the finished mural above, the results are outstanding. Using color and expression in a way only children can master, the finished product is a true work of art web_kids-paintingand is hanging in the hallway at the school.

Funding for the A River Runs Through Us Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience was provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Programming funds were also made possible from a generous environmental grant from the Dominion Foundation.

The program was coordinated by TREE (Three Rivers Environmental Educators) and Alice French, Education and Outreach Coordinator at The Menokin Foundation. This was the first of several programs developed by TREE for Richmond County School and their STEM initiative.