Naturalist classes set
Published 10:20 pm Monday, December 15, 2014
Disconnection from the natural environment is one of the prices we’ve paid for modern society. But the Virginia Master Naturalist Historic Southside Chapter is helping folks to reconnect.
The volunteer corps of educators, citizen scientists and stewards is kicking off a series of informal classes at Carrollton Library in the new year.
While it will help the naturalists achieve their objective of fostering greater environmental awareness, “Stay Connected” will also help the Blackwater Regional Library branch be more relevant in the lives of those it serves.
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“It came about at the Olden Days,” a festival in Smithfield, said Stella Payne, a local naturalist. Carrollton Library manager Shannon Conroy came across her chapter’s booth, Payne said, and the connection was made.
In what organizers hope will be the first of many such classes, the first series starts at the library, 14362 New Towne Haven Lane, on Jan. 7, from 1:30 to 3 p.m, and will continue between the same hours on the first Wednesday of the next three months.
The topic will initially be bluebirds and why they attract much attention. (Payne believes it’s because they were listed as an endangered species in 1977, the year before the North American Bluebird Society got going. The quintessential American bird now survives in much healthier numbers.)
Beyond that, said Mary Catherine Foster, another local master naturalist, discussion could go anywhere within the bounds of the natural environment.
“We don’t really know where this is going,” Foster said. “We need that first group to come in and get a feel for where it should be going.”
Carrollton Library is an apt setting for the classes. Conroy pointed to populations of crawfish and other fauna and flora surrounding it.
“We want to show the community that we can offer programs and events for people of all ages,” Conroy said.
“There’s a big movement right now for libraries to be more community-connected. We are trying to push that the library is a place to find friends and a sense of belonging.”
Meanwhile, the master naturalists’ involvement with bluebirds is going beyond the species being the first topic of their classes.
Beginning in late March, Payne said, they’ll start monitoring a scattered trail of bluebird nesting boxes in Isle of Wight County that’s more than 25 miles in length, after recently cleaning them out and adding fresh material.
The bluebird society and university researchers will use the data collected, such as when nesting starts and eggs are laid and hatched, she said.
For more information on the library classes, call 238-2641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.