FOSA Enthusiastically Welcomes New Officers, Directors
At the Annual Meeting of the Foundation of the State Arboretum in June, the Board elected officers for FY21, and the FOSA membership unanimously elected five new directors to the Board and reappointed three Board members for additional terms.

“We’re very excited to welcome this stellar slate of new officers and directors,” says FOSA Director Robin Couch Cardillo. “The group brings energy and creativity to the board and a renewed commitment to supporting Blandy’s critical environmental research and education programs in these challenging times.”

Jolly de Give is the new FOSA President

Newly Elected Officers
Josephine (Jolly) de Give, of Delaplane, is FOSA’s new President, moving from her role as Vice President. De Give previously worked for 18 years with the Piedmont Environmental Council and 10 years with the New York State Urban Development Corporation. She’s a member of the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club and has served on the boards of several state-wide conservation organizations. De Give is a graduate of Harvard College and holds a Master’s in Urban Planning from the City University of New York. She serves on FOSA’s Executive Committee and has served on the Nominating Committee. 

Nancy Takahashi, of Charlottesville, will serve as Vice President. She recently retired as a Distinguished Lecturer and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. Takahashi began working with Blandy’s curatorial staff in 1986 to develop plans for collections displays and new gardens. The work she carried out with students for a Master Plan was awarded a Merit Award by the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1987. Takahashi serves on the Executive Committee and currently chairs FOSA’s Arboretum Collections Committee.

Charles Ellison, of Winchester, was elected Treasurer. Ellison has served as a Trustee for the Hill School in Middleburg and the Mosby Heritage Area Association. He currently is a member of FOSA’s Executive and Finance Committees and will chair the latter committee going forward.

Heather Dudley, of Upperville, was reelected to her role as Secretary of the Foundation. Dudley currently is an adjunct professor at George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, teaching psychology and history. Prior to this, she taught history, economics, and psychology at the high school level for 20 years. Dudley is a member of FOSA’s Executive, Events, and Public Programs Committees.

J. Stephen (Steve) Bauserman, of Winchester, moves from his role as President to Past President. As a retired Certified Financial Planner and Asset Manager, he has offered a wealth of financial and business expertise to the Board. His community service includes leadership roles with such organizations as The Opequon Watershed Inc., Preservation of Historic Winchester, and Winchester Schools’ Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee. Bauserman is a Virginia Master Naturalist and holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Richmond. He serves on the FOSA Executive Committee.

New Board Members
Roger Courtenay, of Orange, brings his extensive professional experience as a landscape architect and senior partner of EDAW and AECOM in design of public spaces and gardens. From his nationally prominent professional work and serving on many other boards, Courtenay values the importance of strategic planning and will share his expertise in future planning for FOSA. He’s very familiar with Blandy as EDAW ran a summer internship program at Blandy in previous years.

Charles M. Ellison
See Ellison’s bio above, under New Officers.

M. Tyson Gilpin, Jr., of Winchester, is a recognized local attorney who grew up at Lakeville Farm close to Blandy on Route 50. He has practiced law in our region for most of his career, after graduating from UVA Law School. Gilpin has been active in local government and public affairs throughout his career, including service as Clarke County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and Assistant County Attorney, Board member of the Virginia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, member of the Virginia State Bar Environmental Council, and a member of the Board of the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Paul Miller, of Front Royal, owns the Winchester interior design firm of MakeNest Interiors. He is a marketing expert, with special emphasis on use of social media for advertising and promotions. Miller enthusiastically participated in FOSA’s Nature Nurtures in 2019 and has stayed engaged as a FOSA volunteer, recently assuming the chairmanship of FOSA’s Events Committee and joining the Development and 
Membership Committee.

Mary Olien, of Winchester, is an Operations Branch Manager for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority, but she has been an asset to Blandy and FOSA for several decades. Her undergraduate and graduate horticulture degrees from Virginia Tech and Michigan State University were of great value when she joined the Blandy staff years ago, coming on board to develop and expand the education programs at the State Arboretum. Previously a FOSA director and officer, Olien rejoins the FOSA Board offering her invaluable Blandy institutional expertise. She currently serves on the Nominating and Events Committees.

Reappointed Board Members
Karla Etten, of Brambleton, spent the majority of her career working either as a federal employee or contractor. During a professional hiatus, she dedicated herself to her community through citizen science volunteerism. She recently completed her Loudoun County Master Gardeners courses, volunteers with Audubon at Home, is a Virginia Master Naturalist, and is a provisional member of the Upperville Garden Club. Etten also previously served as the Virginia Bluebird Society State Coordinator and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Bluebird Coordinator and continues to monitor her community bluebird trails. She currently co-chairs FOSA’s Public Programs Committee as well as serves on the Arboretum Collections Committee.

Scott Johnston, of Marshall, is owner of Johnston Tree Care. As a certified arborist, he has supported the State Arboretum of Virginia as a popular presenter of Blandy’s public programs, offering practical and thoughtful advice for tree care and preservation. Johnston’s decades of active FOSA and Blandy participation have been well documented, including a Washington Post article that extolled his many contributions to our Arboretum collections. Johnston is a member of FOSA’s Arboretum Collections and Public Programs Committees.

G. Robert (Bob) Lee, of Warrenton, was a 1984 founding Board member of the Friends of Blandy (now the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia). Lee and Geoffrey W. Cole authored the organization’s original Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Lee also prepared the Virginia General Assembly Joint Resolution (1986) that designated the Orland E. White Arboretum as the State Arboretum of Virginia, as well as penning the General Assembly Resolution (2016) that honored Blandy and the State Arboretum for 30 years of exemplary public education and enrichment. A career public servant, Lee served as County Administrator in Clarke and Fauquier Counties, and as Executive Director of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation under three Virginia gubernatorial administrations. He is a FOSA past president and currently chairs the Nominating and the Government Relations Committees.

Enduring Gratitude for Their Service

Three Board members completed their terms at the end of June or decided to retire from the Board for personal reasons: Hank Hartz; Christine Perdue, who as FOSA Past President will move to the Advisory Board; and Polly Rowley.

FOSA leadership is grateful for the many contributions of these outstanding board members!

Familiar face joins Blandy staff
Ariel Firebaugh named Director of Scientific Engagement
By David Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
Blandy is proud to introduce our new Director of Scientific Engagement, Dr. Ariel Firebaugh. Blandy's Director of Public Programs, Dr. Steve Carroll, retired last October. We decided to reimagine the position, and the name change reflects the evolution of public programming that occurred during Steve's tenure. This includes an increased focus on the environmental sciences and the diversification of ways in which we engage the public. Ariel's background and experience puts her in an ideal position to continue the expansion of our audience and
program offerings.

Ariel is no stranger to Blandy. She arrived here in the summer of 2011 as a member of our Research Experience for Undergraduates program. After graduating from Roanoke College in 2012, she returned to Blandy as a Ph.D. student under the mentorship of Dr. Kyle Haynes. Ariel studied the effects of light pollution on firefly behavior and ecology. During her dissertation research, she trained homeowners, many from the Virginia Master Naturalist program, to census fireflies in their own backyards. She was also a part of Blandy's family firefly festival
since its inception.

Since earning her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, Ariel has been working as a postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the "REALISE: REALising Inclusive Science Excellence" program at Radford University, where she has worked with college science students from underrepresented groups, helped to develop project-based learning experiences, and created professional development opportunities
for Radford faculty.

Ariel is an exceptional fit for Blandy and our efforts to increase understanding of the natural world. In addition to fostering relationships with our many partner organizations, she will be working hard to expand our reach into local communities that we have underserved in the past and extend our reach throughout the Commonwealth. She will bring her own scientific expertise, passion, and insight to help develop ways for more people to become involved with the scientific process.

It is extremely exciting for me to see a person who has benefited so much from her experiences at Blandy now have the opportunity to return and make her own impression on Blandy's future. Ariel officially begins her position in early August, and she, of course, will be joining us during some challenging times for Blandy programming. Nonetheless, we expect that you will be seeing the impact of her arrival during the fall.

Two welcome-back walks at Blandy
Join us for two of our favorite pastimes: 
discovering unique birds and watching the moon rise over the trees at Blandy
Friday, July 17, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Scouting the Birds of Summer
with Blandy Director Dave Carr
Take a refreshing morning walk through Blandy's favorite bird sanctuaries with Blandy Director Dave Carr as your expert guide. On a recent July morning, Dave photographed the beautiful Indigo Bunting shown here along the Native Plant Trail. Many unique and fascinating birds call Blandy home in the summertime. Feel free to bring your binoculars and a camera. Also, please wear a facial covering and observe social distancing guidelines during this walk. Limited space, so register early.
FOSA members/UVa Alumni $10, nonmembers $15 

Monday, August 3, 8:30 - 9:30 p.m.
A Walk to Watch the Rise of the Full Sturgeon Moon
Former Director of Public Programs (and avid full moon walker) Steve Carroll joins us to lead a walk around Blandy's grounds as the full moon rises. Meet near the information kiosk at the parking lot. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a flashlight. Also, remember you'll need to practice social distancing among families during the walk. Says Steve, "We'll stop periodically so I or others can comment on what we're seeing and to ask questions. Then we'll stop and watch the moon come up over the Blue Ridge Mountains."
According to the Old Farmers' Almanac, "The full moon in August is called the Sturgeon Moon because Native Americans knew the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full moon."
FOSA members/UVa Alumni $10, nonmembers $15
FOSA/UVa family $20, nonmember family $25

Register for these programs HERE.

Lead Environmental Educator Emily Ford uses Fred the Flower to explain flower parts to a group of students last year.

Resilience in the face of challenges
Education innovations for the 2020-21 school year
By Candace Lutzow-Felling, Leah Chaldares, and Lillian Ledford
Blandy Education Team
This spring the education team has been working hard to make the most out of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the effort to slow the virus spread, nearly all of our spring programs had to be canceled. Looking ahead to the beginning of the new school year, we are sure that Blandy outdoor fall programs will be limited. We are embracing these challenges as a unique opportunity to develop innovative ways to continue to serve our regional schools, teachers, and students.
Programs for learning outdoors
Since March we have been creating resources that encourage students and teachers to engage in meaningful hands-on science investigations in whatever wild spaces they have: schoolyard, neighborhood, backyard, basement, bathroom, and beyond! We are learning filmography, creating videos that show fascinating animal behaviors, such as ants carrying seeds for food or parent birds keeping their nestlings clean. Our online content and videos model curiosity about and exploration of the outdoors and encourage learners to investigate their own surroundings. 

Programs to heighten student engagement
We've also been busy revising all of our education programs to align with the new Virginia Science Standards of Learning. This revision work includes ways to make our programs more engaging for students. For example, during the Let's Sprout program for kindergarten through second grade, students learn the parts of a plant by watching Blandy educators take away or add parts to our flower model, Fred the Flower. We are shifting the focus from teacher to student through the use of felt boards. Students use the adhesive properties of felt to build their own flower model using botanically accurate felt pieces. This engineering exercise engages students in more active learning and gives them time to think more deeply about the structures of a plant. 

Programs for ALL students
Each year we serve 6,500 to 7,000 students spanning preschool through grade 12. Our students come from a diversity of ethnic, linguistic, economic, cultural, and social backgrounds with different levels of learning proficiency. Equity, accessibility, and inclusion are constant themes that drive our teaching practice and program development. We continually adjust our teaching, resources, and methods to make our field experiences more inclusive to a diversity of learners. Research shows that learning outdoors in authentic natural settings like those we have at Blandy benefits all learners. However, we are aware that these experiences do not have the same impact on all of our young scientists. It is up to us to continuously identify and remove any barriers that hinder learning in our outdoor environment. Students (and their accompanying adults) who are not accustomed to learning outdoors are often wary of the "unknowns" at Blandy: What am I expected to do? Are there dangerous creatures hiding in the plants? Will a snake or bee jump out and bite me? What will happen if I get wet or dirty? These fears are real, valid, and couched in prior experiences. It is our responsibility as educators to recognize discomfort, to acknowledge these concerns, and carefully introduce our Blandy environment and organisms in order to move learners from fear to fascination. Through this careful focus, we strive to create a learning environment that values all ideas shared by students, encourages students to think critically and helps them to make real world connections. 

We invite you to visit and like us on Facebook and Instagram to engage with our learning resources!

Nature Nurtures showcases healthy living
First it was goat yoga. Last year it was she sheds. 
What's in store this year? See you Oct. 3!
Mark your calendars for October 3 and join us at Blandy for the third annual Nature Nurtures festival, a unique one-day event that will feature a variety of farm-to-table and plant vendors and artisans, as well as walks, talks, and demonstrations that highlight uses of the natural world. Bring your family to take part in Native American games and crafts and build a fairy or woodland creature house. For those who like a little sparkle, Nature Nurtures is the best place to get Finklepott's Original Fairy Hair!

Join in the FUN and explore your favorites! 
  • Forest Bathing
  • Honey Tastings
  • Bird Walks
  • Environmental organizations
  • Energy Practitioners
  • Herbalists
  • Tai Chi
  • Fresh Local Cuisine Cooking Demonstration
  • Great Food Vendors
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga in Nature
Join us Saturday, October 3, 9:30 to 4:30 for a day of healthy fun! Nature Nurtures will be a safe, social distancing event.

This unique event is a wonderful opportunity to showcase that nature does indeed nurture us in so many ways.
Nature Nurtures is underwritten by the Bank of Clarke County, along with Media Sponsor iHeart Media and Q102.

Photo: Kerry Wexted via Flickr

Root Beer, Anyone?
State Arboretum names Sassafras as the 2020 Tree of the Year!
No time was more fitting than Arbor Day, April 24, for the State Arboretum of Virginia at Blandy Experimental Farm to announce its second Tree of the Year: the sassafras (Sassafras albidum).

The Arboretum's 2020 Tree of the Year was selected after deliberation by Curator T'ai Roulston, Blandy arborists, and Virginia Department of Forestry representatives. According to Curator Roulston, sassafras is a tree perfectly suited to many landscapes because it's a fast-growing tree native to the eastern U.S., grows to a height of 30 to 60 feet, and is available at many area nurseries. 

"It makes a very nice tree for the yard if the secondary sprouts from the base are removed to encourage a single tall tree rather than a sassafras thicket," Roulston notes. Other appealing features of the sassafras include striking blue-black fruits on bright red stalks that birds eat in autumn, "but these fruits are only produced by female sassafras trees, if they're pollinated," Roulston points out. 

The sassafras leaves also are well known and loved for their shapes. Individual trees produce three different leaf types: mitten shaped, three-fingered, and oval. The leaves also put on a nice show of color in the fall, ranging from yellow to orange to red. Various parts of the plant, including the leaves, give off a very pleasant root beer-like fragrance; traditionally these were used in the making of various medicinal beverages. Roulston warns, however, that because one of sassafras' chemical compounds - safrole - has been found to be carcinogenic, only sassafras flavoring with safrole removed is available commercially now. The sassafras grows in hardiness zones 4-9. 

On Arbor Day each year, the State Arboretum of Virginia honors one extraordinary species of tree as its Tree of the Year. The goal of the program is five-fold:
  • To remind us of the value and environmental significance of trees in Virginia and beyond
  • To educate the public about the variety of trees in Virginia
  • To nurture a love of trees in all ages
  • To promote important tree education, science, and conservation at the State Arboretum and elsewhere in Virginia
  • To join with others in awe of the majesty of Virginia's trees

"We want everyone - of all ages - to know how important trees are to us environmentally," says Roulston. "Every day at the Arboretum we practice and promote tree education, science, and conservation through research and public programming. That's a vital part of our mission."

In selecting the Tree of the Year, these key traits are considered:
  • Does the tree have a compelling story or uniqueness? Does it have special characteristics - for example, color or leaf structure - that make the tree an interesting choice?
  •  Is the tree readily available for purchase in Virginia at most nurseries?
  •  Is the tree familiar to most gardeners?
  •  Is the tree easy to grow and nurture for nonprofessionals and will make a good addition to a residential landscape?
In 2019, the State Arboretum's inaugural Tree of the Year was the popular Eastern Redbud. 

tour of wild spaces, lessons on ecology
Go farther afield without getting lost
By Jack Monsted
Assistant Curator, Native Plant Trail
With the start of summer and beautiful weather in the forecast, we're thrilled to see so many visitors returning to Blandy to stroll down Dogwood Lane, smell the flowers in the Pollination Garden, or explore the Native Plant Trail. 

If you've found yourself wishing for the path less traveled, Blandy's newest attraction may be just the solution: a GPS guided tour of Blandy's wild spaces. A special series of interconnected geocaches, this adventure will take you through our vast sunny meadows full of wildflowers and shrubs, into forests that are home to giant trees and abundant wildlife, and past unique landmarks that highlight Blandy's ecological history.

This new experience is all guided through the brand-new Adventure Lab app, which provides simple to follow GPS guidance to 10 fascinating locations throughout Blandy. It also functions as a scavenger hunt game - the app poses a question after you've reached each location, and you must find and enter the code word hidden nearby to reveal the next location. Solving the puzzle at each location also unlocks information about the unique ecological features found at that site so that you and your family can learn while you explore.

Copyright Groundspeak, Inc. DBA Geocaching
Getting started is easy. Simply download the free Adventure Lab app to your phone (available on the Google play store for Android or the app store for iPhone), create an account (also free), and search for "Virginia Ecology Adventure at the State Arboretum." Then simply hit 'start' and your phone will guide you to the first location. The app also features other walking tours scattered throughout the country, created by other parks, gardens, and tourism attractions.

Completing the course and solving all 10 locations traces a wide loop around the arboretum, totaling roughly 3.5 miles. It takes two to three hours to complete, depending how fast you walk and solve each location, but you don't need to complete it all at once. If you decide to take a break part way through, the app will remember which locations you've visited and let you pick up where you left off. The adventure is great for adults or families with kids of many ages, but several locations are only accessible via dirt trails and large grassy areas, so it is not recommended for strollers or people with very limited mobility.

For those looking to enjoy the beauty of nature, get in some good exercise, and learn a bit about ecology all while avoiding crowds, Blandy's newest GPS adventure might be just what you're looking for! If you do complete the course, be sure to rate it in the app, and feel free to leave comments about your experience. We hope to see you all enjoying Blandy's wild spaces soon.

A Legacy of Giving: 
Honoring FOSA’s Outgoing President 
with the J. Stephen Bauserman Transportation Fund
After three years leading the Foundation of the State Arboretum as its President, Steve Bauserman stepped down on June 30 at the close of the fiscal year. He leaves behind a legacy of not only steering the nonprofit during immensely challenging times but also tirelessly and creatively working to build the Foundation through carefully thought-out giving initiatives.

Thanks to an anonymous donor at the close of the year, Steve Bauserman's commitment to Blandy Experimental Farm and the State Arboretum will be forever celebrated through the J. Stephen Bauserman Back-to-Nature Transportation Fund.

Announced at FOSA’s Annual Meeting in June, this special fund’s mission is to promote access to Blandy and the Arboretum by groups who may have limited transportation resources. It also will fill transportation needs of mission-focused research and education groups working
with Blandy.

The J. Stephen Bauserman Back-to-Nature Transportation Fund’s initial gift is $10,000. This will be used as the start-up investment to attract similar targeted donations supporting transportation to build the Blandy community. In honor of Steve, the donor pledges to ensure the success of this fund with recurring annual donations of $10,000 for a minimum of three years, beginning this year.
“This is quite an honor - and certainly a surprise,” said Steve at the close of the meeting. “As many know, access to transportation can sometimes make or break our ability to share Blandy’s environmental mission with others, especially with schools and community groups. This important fund will allow us to meet that need and ultimately welcome more audiences to the Arboretum, perhaps some who are underserved. I’m
very grateful.” 

FOSA Director Robin Couch Cardillo added, “This incredibly thoughtful gift is in the spirit of Steve’s contributions over the years to FOSA and Blandy. On behalf of the FOSA Board, I want to thank Steve for always generously and selflessly giving his time and resources to elevate the critical needs of nature in the minds of all who are lucky enough to know him.”

FOSA will schedule an official recognition of this extraordinary gift in Steve’s honor when groups are able to gather safely at Blandy.

Looking back and looking forward: Outgoing FOSA President's thoughts
By J. Stephen Bauserman
Immediate Past President
At our recent Zoom online annual meeting, I shared some of the accomplishments and changes the Foundation of the State Arboretum has made during my time on the board and as president for the past three years. I thought I would share these thoughts with you. 

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity to serve on your board and especially as your president. It has truly been an honor I will always remember. Not having been to Blandy prior to joining the board, I didn't know what to expect so I was somewhat hesitant. I shouldn't have been. The officers and members of the board have always been welcoming and over the years I have made some great friends. The same is true of the staff at Blandy. Everyone, from the professors to the grounds workers, have all been friendly, welcoming, and eager to answer my questions or just have a chat. They truly know how to make someone feel they are part of the
Blandy family. 

Many of you may visit Blandy and assume nothing changes except the growing trees and arboretum collection. While the Blandy staff and FOSA volunteers do keep things moving along, behind the scenes a lot goes on.

During my time on the board, some of the changes have been administrative and subtle, collectively making FOSA a much more effective and efficient operation. Others are more obvious and equally or even more important.

The main change was bringing on Robin Couch Cardillo as our new FOSA director. Robin's enthusiasm, knowledge of non-profits, and network of contacts has helped invigorate and rededicate our FOSA committees and volunteers. Her fundraising ideas and energy have been most helpful during this current difficult pandemic, which has severely restricted our ability to raise the funds needed to carry on our mission. 

Our main mission is to support the work of the Arboretum and the educational component of Blandy both for students and the general public. To that end, we started our annual summer high school student training program named in honor of Art Schwartzschild, who began the program at Blandy's sister research station at Oyster, Virginia. Currently funded by the James R. Wilkins Charitable Trust, the program allows area students to work with summer college interns conducting their research projects. 

Another equally important FOSA program is our Graduate Research Endowment. Through this fund, FOSA is able to cover the costs of educating and training one or more of these promising young students. As a board, we feel this is the essence of our purpose as a fundraising arm for Blandy - to cultivate an increasing endowment fund that will take these graduate students to the next level of learning for the sake of science - which is for the sake of humankind.

Of course, we don't just work to support student education. After much thought, we closed our small gift shop and have been working diligently to repurpose it as a cutting edge educational center for our many visitors. Not only will it be upgradable as technology advances, it will also have a hands-on component so folks can feel comfortable gaining knowledge about Blandy and FOSA as well as other related organizations
and activities.

A lot has changed over the years and much more needs to be done. None of it will be possible without the financial and vocal support of the members of FOSA. If you're currently a member of the Foundation, thank you! If you've yet to join our vital cause, please consider becoming a member. Visit for information about how you can make a difference. 
Bringing back former board members with their institutional memory to serve with new board members with fresh ideas and thoughts should continue to make FOSA viable into the future.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to lead FOSA as your President.

Please Support Critical Research and Education
at Blandy and the State Arboretum