Tag Archives: wildlife refuge

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.

A Match Made in Heaven – Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School and Menokin

In spite of the pristine scenery and recreation – not to mention the tranquil lifestyle afforded by living on the Northern Neck – this geographical area, along with the Middle Peninsula counties across the Rappahannock River are under-served in many ways.

The rural, agrarian economy means incomes – and tax revenues – are lower than the national average. Schools are not fancy, and faculty and students alike struggle with the dichotomy of gaining a quality education with very limited resources.

Therefore, we are very fortunate to have an excellent community college system, Rappahannock Community College, with three campuses in the region; one of those is right here in Warsaw. These campuses are also home to an academically  challenging program for high school students called The Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS).

The Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine and Environmental Science provides high-ability students from the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula with a rigorous curriculum through enrichment, exploratory, investigative, and career awareness experiences. Through the integration of math, science, technology, and research, woven with marine and environmental sciences, students have the opportunity to foster an appreciation and respect for environmental issues.

CBGS provides a community of learners the opportunity to explore connections among the environment, math, science, and technology in order to help develop leaders who possess the research and technical skills, global perspective, and vision needed to address the challenges of a rapidly changing society.

And here sits Menokin, ten minutes from the Warsaw campus, in the middle of a wildlife refuge and with access to Cat Point Creek, one of the most undisturbed tributaries of the Rappahannock. We are a 500-acre classroom teeming with opportunities for research, exploration, inspiration and education of all things Marine and Environmental.

It is, obviously, a match made in heaven. And the courtship began in earnest in early November when the CBGS sophomore class from the Warsaw Campus came for an introductory field trip. Instructors Jim Beam (no, I’m not making it up), Daniel Maxey and Bethany Smith lead their eager students through the property to snatch up as much of the experience as possible during their brief stay. With field notebooks in hand, students scribbled notes about archaeology, geology, flora, fauna and conservation. Brain’s churned with ideas for senior projects that will be serious business in the not-too-distant future.

We look forward to continuing our relationship with CBGS students and teachers, and encourage all with the same passion for learning to take advantage of the resources here at Menokin.

You’re Invited

Menokin Is Hosting A Reception and Show of Entries from the
Menokin Photography Contest

Please join the Menokin staff, contestants, trustees and contest judge Hullihen Williams Moore on the evening of November 30, 2012 from 6 pm until 8 pm for a light wine and cheese reception and the results of the Menokin Photography Contest.

On display will be selected works by Mr. Moore from his collection of Menokin photographs.

There is no fee to attend, but a reservation is required. Please respond to menokin@menokin.org or by calling 804.333.1776 no later than November 26, 2012.

The reception will be held in the Martin Kirwan King Visitor’s Center at Menokin, located at 4037 Menokin Road, Warsaw, VA.

No wild weather for this year’s “Go Wild” event

Yesterday was the 2nd annual “Go Wild” event at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s Hutchinson Tract in Essex County, VA.

After the cold, windy, rainy day that greeted last year’s eventers, the clear blue October sky and 75+ degree temperatures were a welcome change.

The wind still  had a few tricks up her sleeve, however,  and there were examples of human ingenuity all over the place as exhibitors tried to hold down tents, brochures and displays. My husband Ben, the master of all things rigged, “Bengineered” this bungee bracing system to keep the Menokin display board upright and in place.

I was there representing Menokin, and informing visitors about our nature trails and waterfront on Cat Point Creek, and explaining that 300 of our 500 acres are, in fact, part of the refuge.

There were all kinds of exhibitors on hand – from Native Plants Societies, Master Naturalist and Oyster Gardeners, to bluebird house building, reforestation surveyors and wildlife rehabilitation experts.

Our booth was next door to The Wildlife Center of Virginia, where their educator and handler, Rayna, brought out a series of rehabilitated birds to share with the public. You can find out these birds stories on their website.

Grayson, a broad-winged hawk, gave me the stare down.
Edie, an American Kestrel, is very comfortable with humans.

The Raptor Society of Virginia was also on hand with a few of their birds. This little screech owl won me over with her big green eyes and haughty, knowing air.

Fire, an Eastern screech owl

Congressman Rob Whitman spoke briefly, after being introduced by Refuge Administrator Andy Hoffman and RRVNWR Friends President, Anne Graziano.

Rob Whitman addressed the crowd
Andy Hoffman and Anne Graziano both spoke

The Give and Take of Indian Pipe

Yesterday, a visitor spent long hours in the morning hiking the trails of Menokin. She shared this photograph of Indian Pipe that she found growing along the trail.

Indian Pipe (photo by Beth Sanders)

I did a little research and found out some interesting facts about Indian Pipe.

  • Indian Pipe doesn’t have chlorophyll, the stuff that makes plants green. It is a waxy, whitish color (though this plant is a lovely shade of pink). It turns black when it gets old.
  • Indian Pipe is usually seen from June to September. It grows in shady woods with rich soil and decaying plant matter. This plant is often found near dead stumps.
  • Since Indian Pipe has no chlorophyl, it can’t make its own food like most plants. Therefore, it has to “borrow” nutrients, either from decaying plant matter, or from another organism, such as a fungus.
  • Meanwhile, the fungus itself has another relationship going on with a tree. The fungus’s mycelia also tap into the tree’s roots. Many fungi and trees have this type of relationship — it’s called a “mycorrhizal relationship.” The fungus gives nutrients to the tree and the tree gives nutrients to the fungus. Both organisms help each other out.
  • Even though Indian Pipe gives nothing back to the fungus or the tree, it is a food source for small bumble bees, which visit flowers for nectar. The bees return the favor by pollinating the Indian Pipe. 

You are probably already humming the “Circle of Life” Lion King theme song in your head or out loud by now. Hope you have enjoyed this little nature lesson. Share your own photos of Indian Pipe if you have them.

Suppertime at the Menokin Butterfly Garden

"THESE Tourists, heaven preserve us! needs must live
      A profitable life: some glance along,
      Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air,
      And they were butterflies to wheel about
      Long as the summer lasted..."

                            William Wordsworth

Monarchs, tiger swallowtails, dragonflies and hummingbird moths all came to feast on the beautiful flowers in the Menokin Butterfly Garden.

Planted by a local Boy Scout as his Eagle Scout Project, and maintained by a local chapter of the Master Naturalists, the garden has provided pleasure for the staff, visitors and wildlife of Menokin all season.

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