Green Flag
Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                                         Summer  2013
FOSA Now Accepts
Online Payments, Donations
The Foundation of the State Arboretum has established a new system to accept
online payments and donations.
Online visitors can join FOSA or renew their memberships, make a donation to the Foundation, or register and pay for summer camp or public programs.
The system is hosted through the University's E-Pay at UVa, a Commerce Manager product hosted by Nelnet Business Solutions, and meets the latest industry security standards.
To learn more or make a donation or to register and pay for a program, visit 
Ali Robbins
Ali Robbins

Ali Robbins

Joins FOSA Staff


A friendly new face has appeared in the main office at the Arboretum.


Ali Robbins joined the staff recently as an administrative assistant. 


Ali lives with her husband Daniel Haney in Millwood, where they raise organic vegetables and chickens.

Ali grew up in Reston, and earned a B.A. in political science from James Madison University.


Before moving to Millwood, Ali and Daniel spent two years working with youth in Cambodia, where they managed a children's home and learning center called Aziza's Place.


"Being in Cambodia gave me perspective on what is most important," Ali said. "The school offered dynamic programs for some of Phnom Penh's most impoverished children. Their families lived at the municipal dump site where picking trash was their livelihood. At Aziza's Place they receive necessities like a healthy diet and schooling, but also life and trade skills that ensure they will never have to work in the dump site."


Stop by the main office and welcome Ali the next time you visit the Arboretum. 


Click for a slide show.

Garden Fair Marks Mother's Day

FOSA's annual Garden Fair once again filled the Arboretum with vendors, shoppers, and a huge assortment of plants and home and garden items.

Although rains dampened Saturday attendance, Sunday saw spectacular weather and crowds of Garden Fair shoppers. 

Nearly 90 vendors set up over 100 booths, with some vendors reserving double or even triple booth spaces. Children's events saw plenty of activity at their new spot in the Amphitheater, with a steady stream of kids trying their hand at several nature-themed projects.

Overall Garden Fair lived up to its reputation as one of the best plant sales in Virginia! 
FOSA Members Elect New Directors
Foundation members elected a new slate of directors to the FOSA Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting June 12. Six new board members were elected to serve three-year terms: Donna Downing of Winchester, Bob Lee of Warrenton, Chris Oldham of Clear Brook, Christine Perdue of Middleburg, Byron Pitts of Warrenton,  and Roma Sherman of Paris. Ms. Downing and Mr. Lee have served previously on the Board.  Jacquelyn Gammons of Middleburg was re-elected to serve another three-year term.

Going off the board are Daphne Dunning, Peggy Duvall, and Mark Peterson. The new officers for Fiscal Year 2014 are President Sylvia Wilson, Vice President Bob Wever, Treasurer Kathy Clark, and Immediate Past President Bruce Downing. The post of secretary is currently vacant.

Dr. John Kress, Research Botanist and Curator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, was the featured speaker at the annual meeting. Dr. Kress spoke on "New Technologies for Plant Discovery and Conservation in the 21st Century."

May the Force(s) be with You! 

Summer Camp Studies "Forces of Nature" 


Our 2013 Summer Nature Camp begins Monday, July 8, with the theme "Forces of Nature." Rising 2nd-4th graders will observe, measure, and manipulate natural forces such as gravity, wind, moving water, and magnetism as they explore the near and far reaches of Blandy.


2012 Summer Camp
Students record their observations during last year's Summer Nature Camp. This year's camp begins Monday, July 8.

In our second camp, also for rising 2nd-4th graders, we will look into the mysteries of some of the largest organisms on the planet: trees! In "Seeing Trees," campers will get up close and personal with Blandy's best-known residents as they learn common trees, investigate how trees "work," and appreciate how trees and living organisms (including people) mutually depend on each other.


Our final camp, EcoExplorers, allows rising 5th-8th graders to ask and attempt to answer questions about the natural world. They will collect and analyze data, then present their findings to other campers, Blandy students and staff, and family members.


Each week-long camp, presented by the Foundation of the State Arboretum, meets Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.  Information about cost and registration (including our new online registration system) can be found here. Need-based scholarships are available courtesy of the Greenway and Winchester-Clarke Garden Clubs. Call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 for general information; and Ext. 287 for inquiries about scholarships.

Public Programs 
From our Distant Past to the Night Sky


Spanish language tour
Volunteer Bob Vazquez leads a Spanish-language tour of the Arboretum.

Spring public programs saw a mix of new directions and old favorites. We hosted our first Spanish-language tour of the Arboretum, and Marion Lobstein used the research lab to offer a four-part class based on the new Flora of Virginia. Tried-and-true favorites included a spring wildflower walk at the Thompson Wildlife Management Area (this year in a light rain) and our popular full moon walks.


Looking ahead, we will explore our distant past and the night sky as we highlight the region's cultural, ecological, and geological history. Summer programs include workshops on Native American working of stone points, interpretation of the environmental history of the Shenandoah Valley, our second Spanish-language tour, full moon walks, a program on bird song, and more.


Take a look at our summer schedule, grab a friend, and join us for a program, walk, or tour. And new this year, you can register for public programs online.

Summer Research Season Takes Off

By Kyle Haynes

Associate Director

The summer research season is upon us again and a large group of approximately 30 undergraduate students, graduate students, and others has arrived at Blandy to carry out research.  Many of the undergraduate students were drawn to Blandy through its Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program.  The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, admits college students primarily from institutions where the student has little or no opportunity to conduct research.  During the 11-week program, students select a mentor whose research interests align with their own and then carry out a research project.  In addition, the students participate in a diversity of workshops focusing on scientific practices and skills necessary for a professional environmental biologist.  The program isn't all about work though; the REU students also form a vital core of Blandy's softball team and enjoy adventures such as canoeing on the Shenandoah River.

Photo: Ariel Firebaugh


The 10 students participating in the REU program this summer study in colleges and universities all over the country.  Roberto Carrera Martinez joined us from the University of Puerto Rico in MayagŁez.  Other students from far away locations include Amber Slatosky from Idaho State University, Shannon Carter from Baylor University in Texas, Mattea Allert from University of Wisconsin in Platteville, Sean Binninger from New College of Florida, Adrian Pekarcik from Ohio Wesleyan University, and Clara Stuligross from Earlham College in Indiana.  We also have the pleasure of hosting Amber Emerson from Howard University in Washington, D.C., Carmen Kraus from the University of Georgia, and Rosabeth Link from Dickinson College.


An unusually large group of 11 graduate students is conducting research at Blandy this summer as part of their masters or doctoral studies.  For the first time, graduate students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond have based their field research at Blandy.  These students, Lily Thompson and John Wojcikiewicz, are studying the effects of forest fragmentation on the gypsy moth populations. Zhe Bao, a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, has returned to Blandy for her third summer.  She has constructed a large research plot enclosed in deer fencing in order to study the effects of a nonnative invasive tree, known as tree of heaven, on the native flora.  The eight remaining graduate students all study at University of Virginia.  Gerry Woodworth, for example, is examining the impacts of white-tailed deer on native plants and Rosemary Malfi is studying factors that pose risks to the survival and persistence of bumblebees.

REU Program is Only the Beginning
Students Go On to Grad School, New Jobs
By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
As spring moves into summer, Blandy is once again bustling with student researchers. For those who have been around Blandy in summers past, this might seem like a migration akin to the return of the swallows to Capistrano. While it is true that students return summer after summer, the names and faces change. That's the nature of a university. Students arrive. They become a part of our lives for a while. They move on, hopefully enriched and prepared for their next challenges.
NSF Logo
The REU program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
The Blandy faculty tries not to lose contact with our 
past students. Typically we're contacted to write letters of recommendation for them when it's time to move into the next phase of their career development. Thanks to email and Facebook, we're usually able to keep up with highlights of their progress. The news has been very good and our alumni seem to be moving on to great things.

The next stop along the way for most of our REU alumni is graduate school. Recent students have entered Masters or Ph.D. programs at Princeton, Western Kentucky, Purdue, Iowa State, Florida State, Pitt, Claremont Graduate University, and the University of Virginia. Several of these students have been awarded prestigious fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation to provide additional support for their graduate studies.

Several recent REU students have returned to Blandy as University of Virginia graduate students. Ariel Firebaugh (REU class of 2011) is spending this summer at Blandy to begin searching for a project with Kyle Haynes before she becomes formally enrolled in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Environmental Sciences in the fall. Stephanie Cruz-Maysonet (REU class of 2010) entered the Masters of Science program in fall 2012 and is working with T'ai Roulston on the causes and consequences of decisions made by herbivorous insects about the exploitation of their host plants. Stephanie has brought the REU program full circle. This summer she will be mentoring an REU student of her own, Amber Emerson of Howard University.

Some of the most personally gratifying moments for me are when former REU students complete their graduate degrees and start their postgraduate scientific careers. The process is long and arduous, and often frustrating, so those that make it through have a special mix of academic skills, creativity, and perseverance. Last summer Helen Curry (REU class of 2002) returned to Blandy to give a seminar after completing her doctoral degree at Yale University. Blandy featured prominently in her dissertation, which focused on an era of genetics that tried to harness radiation for plant improvements. Former Blandy Director Ralph Singleton was one of the leaders in this field. Helen has now moved on to the University of Cambridge as the Peter Lipton Lecturer. Amber Burgett (REU class of 2005) started a position as an Assistant Professor at Wittenberg University in 2012, and she'll be returning to Blandy this summer to give a seminar on her dissertation work that she recently completed at Washington University in St. Louis. The roots of Amber's work in aquatic food webs trace all the way back to her Blandy REU project with Patrick Crumrine.

Each August many of the Blandy faculty travel to the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. It's a chance to catch up on the latest research in ecology and interact with ecologists from around the world. Blandy's representation at the meeting grows every year, with current faculty, students, and alumni presenting papers and posters to a national audience. We typically have over 30 people join in a Blandy alumni dinner during the meeting. Blandy's REU and graduate research programs are designed to be pathways for the next generation of scientists. The programs are not destinations in themselves, just stops along the way. Blandy seems to be a highly formative stop, nonetheless, and we seem to be inspiring a lot of bright young people to reach for success. 
Green and 
The Blandy Community Garden is thriving! All of the garden's 25 plots are in use. Gardeners agree to donate a portion of their produce to an area food bank, and last year the garden contributed more than 800 pounds of food to help feed needy residents in our community. Great job, gardeners! Keep up the good work! 
The Community Garden