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Chapter Meetings, Advanced Training and Projects

Chapter Meeting Schedule

May 15, 2019 Chapter Annual Picnic at Mutton Hunk Fen

July 17, 2019 Chapter Meeting at Eastern Shore Community College, 5:30 pm Meet and Greet, 6:00 pm Meeting

September 18, 2019 Chapter Meeting at Eastern Shore Community College, 5:30 pm Meet and Greet, 6:00 pm Meeting

November 20, 2019 Chapter Meeting at Eastern Shore Community College, 5:30 pm Meet and Greet, 6:00 pm Meeting.

Under the Sea Class, March 2019

Some of the courses at the Academy for Lifetime Learning at ESCC count for advanced training. Here’s one: “Under the Sea” presented by Ed Murdy- who teaches in our Training class. The program is offered on four dates: March 1, 8, 15 and 29. The program “Under the Sea” is a four part program that requires attendance at all four dates in March. Please go to the website for more info.


Programs meet at 7:30 p.m. at The Hermitage in Onancock (directions below) Pre-program dinner/social at 5:30 p.m. at Bizzotto’s Gallery-Cafe in Onancock.

A reminder that joining the bird club and participating is a way to get almost all of your advanced training hours.

Make reservations with Thor Gormley, 757-377-3513 Field Trips Contact leader for reservations, details and specific directions.

Directions to The Hermitage
Meetings are held at “THE HERMITAGE, 23610 North Main St., Onancock, VA 23417
Directions:   From the stoplight in Onley on Rt. 13, take VA Rt. 179 West into the town of Onancock. Pass the Roseland Movie Theater on your left, then take next right onto North St. (Rt. 658). The Hermitage is ½ mile on your left.

April 22, 2019 Field Trip

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Suffolk, VA Monday, 8:00 a.m.
Target birds include Swainson’s, Wayne’s, Hooded, Kentucky warblers and more
Leader: Hal and Joanne Laskowski. 410-253-9141

May 7, 2019 Field Trip

TNC Nassawango Preserve, Furnacetown, MD, Tuesday, 8:00 a.m.
Identify spring warblers and migrants of bottomland swamps
Leader: Victor Klein. 757-665-4598

May 14, 2019 Program TBA

local speaker
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Description: TBA

Week of May 19, 2019 Trip

Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area, Portsmouth, VA, TBA, 8:00 a.m.
Identify migrating and resident shorebirds. Specific details to follow.
Leader: Hal and Joanne Laskowski. 410-253-9141

Bayside Road Cleanup March 30, 2019

Bring your friends and neighbors to a fun and rewarding event, cleaning up the neighborhood!
BAYSIDE ROAD CLEAN-UP Saturday, March 30th Check-in from 9:00 to 10:00 am Meet at Hungars Church 10107 Bayside Rd, Machipongo, VA 23405

Coffee will be available for early volunteers! Safety vests, bags, zip ties, gloves and grabbers will be supplied. More details can be found on Waste Watchers Facebook Page.

For more information: or call 757-787-2936 x115

Brownsville Preserve & Parramore Island (Eastern Shore)

  • 3-trip commitment, trips run through the school year
  • Youth Safety Training Required

The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve is seeking volunteer assistance with outdoor field experiences for 5th, 7th, and 10th grade classes during the school year (September-May). Field experiences will take place at Brownsville Preserve in Nassawadox (5th and 7th grades) and on Parramore Island out of Wachapreague (10th grade). We are seeking 4-5 dedicated volunteers to assist with class field trips during the spring and fall (field trips typically run from 8:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. on weekdays).  Prior environmental education experience is preferred but not required. It is essential that applicants are comfortable and capable of working with and leading youth groups in an outdoor environment with the help of Conservancy staff. Applicants will be required to undergo a background check (requires SSN) and Nature Conservancy Youth Safety Qualifications prior to volunteering which will take 1.5-2 hours of time. Volunteers will be trained on field activities, and all necessary equipment will be provided. You must be able to commit to helping on at least three field trips. Trips will start in mid-February and run through May 2017 and will pick up again in September. Field trip activities include hiking, kayaking, crabbing, nature scavenger hunts, species observations, water quality assessments, and other fun, outdoor scientific investigations. If you’re interested in helping please call, text or email Jen Dalke, volunteer program manager, at or 434-951-0572 (w) or 540-335-1302 (c).

SEAGRASS RESTORATION Seed Collection—Eastern Shore

Likely dates are May 28-June 3: Snorkelers Needed

The Nature Conservancy, along with several partners in the Seaside Seagrass Community Restoration Program, is once again gearing up for the largest seagrass restoration project in the world! We are looking for local (preferred) volunteer snorkelers and water lovers to collect millions of eelgrass seeds offshore of Oyster, VA on the Eastern Shore.
2019 schedule is not yet available. Look for the schedule available in May—must sign up to get updates on dates as they are very weather dependent.
To get on the list to receive more information as it becomes available call or email Jen Dalke, volunteer program manager, at or 434-951-0572 (w) or 540-335-1302 (c).

ISLAND (and Boat Ramp) STEWARD Volunteer Position
Eastern Shore Virginia

  • Ongoing/Opportunistic island visits and/or scheduled boat ramp visits required, must complete youth qualification
  • April-August (with some year round potential)

*A special training session will be offered in March (date TBD) which will likely include a field experience (possibly a boat trip to the islands) and classroom style training.
The Nature Conservancy is looking for volunteers interested in serving as Island Stewards for the Virginia Coast Reserve. Island Stewards are official representatives of the Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve program, which manages several barrier islands along Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Stewards will educate boaters and island visitors about sensitive natural resources on the islands and island use policies and communicate pertinent information to Conservancy Staff. Educational efforts will often focus on nesting shorebirds and waterbirds. Outreach will consist of talking with boaters and island visitors and distributing brochures as needed. Stewards can serve in two different capacities

  1. Boat Ramp Stewards conducting outreach at public boat ramps along the Eastern Shore, and/or
  2. Island-based Stewards conducting outreach on the islands. Island Stewards must have the means to visit Conservancy owned barrier islands on their own.


  1. Attend annual training session in March 2018 (date TBD)—field and classroom training.
  2. Island-based steward responsibilities will be on an on-going, opportunistic basis, when stewards choose to visit the islands. 
  3. Boat ramp stewards will be asked to sign up for specific dates and times, with requests during the busy Memorial Day and July 4th holiday weekends.

Qualifications include:

  1. Local eastern shore resident.
  2. Excellent communication skills which can positively and effectively, yet casually, teach all island visitors.
  3. Desire to help protect the biodiversity of the Virginia Coast Reserve through education of island visitors.
  4. Island-based Stewards ONLY – Must have transportation to get on and off the islands, as well as familiarity with the local waterways.
  5. Must undergo a background check (requires SSN) and Nature Conservancy Youth Safety Qualifications prior to volunteering which will take 1.5-2 hours of time.

If interested please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer program manager, at or 540-335-1302 (c).

BIRD SIGN INSTALLERS: Virginia Coast Reserve Barrier Islands

April 10—April 30 (weekdays)
The Nature Conservancy seeks volunteers to post signs on Virginia Coast Reserve barrier islands which notify visitors about important bird nesting and resting areas. Commitment: One day minimum. This is physical work requiring the ability to ride in a boat to the islands, carry signs on the beach and use a post-hole digger. Conservancy staff will accompany the volunteer(s). The work will be completed from about April 10 – April 30. Schedule will be made depending on volunteer interest and availability and staff schedules. A follow up email listing exact dates will come in early April—only to those volunteers who express interest now. Work typically takes place during the week. If interested please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer program manager, at or 540-335-1302 (c).


To their fatal detriment, come Spring, the Island Terrapins choose, in looking for love, to attempt to cross the CBTB Highway.

 Installation Date:   April 16th   (rain date April 17th)    An All Day Event   Starting time  TBA

 If Interested Contact   Bob Toner  757 442 2676  or   NO LATER THAN  MARCH 22nd.

 We will be replacing the old turtle guards with new screening.   The screens will be on both sides of the highway adjacent and across form the entrance we use for the Autumn/Winter Fisherman Island Tours.

 Physical Effort:  Walking across uneven terrain; some lifting and/or pounding of metal stakes; caring and positioning the screening material.

 Be Aware:   Dress for exposure to both ticks and chiggers. Use Sunscreen liberally.  Bring lots of water.

 We’ll start in the morning.  Folks who can only work 1/2 day will have to have their own transportation off the Island.  We’ll meet at the Refuge V.C. parking lot and carpool as much as possible.

Volunteers needed

ESSWCD and the ES Environmental Education Council are in search of volunteers for the 2019 Watershed Festival (WF). Volunteers are needed to act as guides for student groups at each of the WF dates. Guides are needed at Makemie Park in Saxis on April 9th and 10th for Accomack County schools. Guides are also needed at Kiptopeke State Park on April 11th for Northampton County schools. Programming runs from 9-2:30 with a break for lunch. Volunteers can work with us for half a day or all day. ESSWCD provides coffee, donuts, snacks and water for all volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Mary Melson at if you are interested in volunteering or would like more information. 

 The WF is a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience than meets VDOE requirements and VA Standards of Learning. Please visit for more information. 

 The ESEEC runs a MWEE for all 6th graders in Accomack and Northampton County. The WF is a project based learning experience.This educational festival and accompanying classes focus on aquatic and biological activities demonstrating our relationship to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The participating exhibitors are organizations and governmental agencies who work with schools and VA Science Standards of Learning (SOLs) along with how citizens can protect their watersheds thus protecting our local wildlife, migratory birds, groundwater and soil quality. The Watershed Festival also focuses on an appreciation of the Shore’s natural and cultural heritage  Students collect data and information at the WF to create a final presentations explaining what they would do with the land and how their plan will positively and negatively impact the watershed. 

Instructions for Accessing the Volunteer Management System

If you have questions about the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System please contact the chapter’s timekeeper:
Sharon Renshaw
856 524-6586.

Your personal data has been entered into the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System.  After your final training class you will receive an automated email from Sharon Renshaw providing access to this system.  The message will contain a link which allows you to log on to the Volunteer Management System.  The link only works once!

Click on the link and you will see the home page of the Eastern Shore Chapter’s section of the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System where you will enter and track your volunteer and advanced training hours.

  1. The very first action you should take is to look under “Your Information” in the upper left corner of the page.
  2. Choose  “Edit Your Profile
  3. Scroll down to the box that says “Change Password.”  Choose and enter a password.
  4. Be sure to click onSAVE INFORMATION” at the bottom of this page.

From that point on, you will be able to enter the system with the following address: .
Username: your email address
Password:  the password which you have just chosen.

You will not receive or use the initial invitation again.  If, in the future, you have problems with your password contact Sharon Renshaw.  I will send another automated email message to you.  Follow the same steps.

You will use this site to enter your volunteer and advanced training hours.  You can also use this site to edit your profile, check for chapter announcements, review definitions of all projects and find contact information for other members.

Webinar Training

The Atlantic Byway Shorebird Initiative, along with Virginia Tech and US Fish and Wildlife Service developed has developed a useful document “Guidance and Best Practices for Addressing Human Disturbance to Shorebirds at Fall Migratory Stopover Sites” for the Northeastern U.S. This integrates guidance and best practices aimed at contributing to Atlantic Flyway-scale (e.g., Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative) and regional (e.g., Northeast National Wildlife Refuge System) conservation goals.  

?The webinar is this Thursday from 2-3pm. Register at

The webinar complements this document. See the website above for info on the document or who to contact to find out.

Using the Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Management System (VMN-VMS)

To enter the system:

    Enter your email address
    Enter your password
  2. To Enter Volunteer Hours.
  • Under “Your Information” on the left side of the home screen, choose “Add New Hours.”
  • In the top box of the next screen, enter a description for your volunteer event (e.g. cleaned the shoreline at Savage Neck Dunes NAP )
  • Enter the date.
  • Next choose the official title from the approved volunteer projects listed in the drop-down box. This includes administration, citizen science, educational programs and stewardship. Administration (A-1) is only used for chapter administration.
  • Enter the number of volunteer hours. This includes activity time and travel time combined.
  • There is also a field for entering your miles driven. In 2017 you could use miles driven for a federal tax deduction for volunteer activitie.  There may be changes in 2018 deductions.
  • The “Population Served” section should be completed any time you have had a face-to-face interaction with the public.
  • VERY IMPORTANT –SAVE your information using the Save Hours button at the bottom of the page.
  1. To Enter Advanced Training Hours
  • Advanced Training is used when you receive the education/training from someone else.
  • Choose  “Add New “ from the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Enter a description of the class or training which you attended.
  • Enter the date.
  • Choose the official title of A-2 Advanced Training”
  • Enter the hours in the Continuing Education box—not volunteer hours.
  • Do not add travel time for advanced training.
  • Do not fill in the population served section.
  • SAVE your information at the bottom of the page.
  1. To correct or delete hours which you have already entered.
  • Choose “ View Your Hours” from the upper left corner of the home screen.
  • Click on the entry which you wish to change.
  • Make any changes which you need to make.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen and
  • To delete an activity, choose the activity, scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose DELETE.
  1. To update your personal information.
  • Use Update Profile when you need to change personal information or want to change your pass word.  SAVE

GENERAL INFORMATION at the bottom left hand corner of the screen

  • Use Chapter Roster find contact information for chapter members
  • Use the Projects link to see the complete list of approved projects and to find details about the projects.

Accessing the Virginia Master Naturalists Webinar Advanced Training.

To be certified and maintain certification every year as a Virginia Master Naturalist, volunteers are required to complete 8 hours of continuing education.  To assist volunteers needing to meet this requirement, the state program office offers continuing education through our annual statewide conference, an online webinar series, and regional workshops associated with specific projects.

Use this link to register for webinar advanced training