Spring Wildflower Symposium
When Nature Springs to Life
In person presentations, walks & workshops.
This event kicks off Friday, May 13 at 3pm.

Our native plant greenhouse will be open Saturday, May 14th from 9am to 2pm. You can order plants by email ahead of time for pick up or take the time to stop in and shop.

 

For over 40 years Wintergreen’s Spring Wildflower Symposium has offered the best and most diverse coverage of wildflowers and mountain ecosystems. The setting is unique, with over 30 miles of hiking trails and convenient access to diverse geological sites. No one comes away from this event without learning more about such topics as botany, geology, entomology, ornithology and ecology. This is the most beautiful time of the year to visit this amazing place in the Blue Ridge.

After two years of holding this event virtually and hybrid, we are excited to say, we’re back. This year’s event will be in person. We have a program full of walks, workshops and lectures; something truly for everyone. We look forward to meeting new faces and seeing those of you who have attended for years.

Register Online

To register by phone, please call 434-325-7451. For more information, please contact specialevents@tnfw.org or call 434-325-7451.

 

 

Download/Print Brochure

 

 

Presenter Bios & Programs

 

Alonso Abugattas is a well-known local naturalist, environmental educator, and storyteller in the Washington, DC area. He is the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, VA and the long-time Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of Region 2 of the National Association for Interpretation, the professional association for naturalists, historians, and docents. He was awarded their Regional Outstanding Interpretive Manager Award in 2018 and the national Master Interpretive Manager in 2018. As a Master Gardener, Alonso Abugattas received a Regional Environmental Champion award at the 2020 Naturally Latinos Conference through the Audubon Naturalist Society. He was a co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club and has held several offices (including President) for the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. With numerous mentions and appearances on television, radio, podcasts and the press, he invites you to check out his NAI Interpretive Section Thomas Say Media Award winning Facebook Group “Capital Naturalist”, his Capital Naturalist Blog, @CapNaturalist on Twitter, and the Capital Naturalist YouTube Channel.

Keynote Lecture
Nature’s Puzzle: The Interconnectedness of the Natural World
Nature is intricately interconnected, and while we certainly don’t know how all the pieces fit, we can have some informative fun trying to put them together. Join us for an interesting look at how some of the pieces of the nature puzzle fit together. Get a peek at just how interdependent our plants, fungi, insects, other wildlife, and even humans can be and try to piece together some parts of our local nature puzzle.

Charlie Aller (aka Charliceps) is a lover of mushrooms and an independent researcher of fungal roles in local ecosystems. He co-founded Mush Luv in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017 with Nina O’Malley, and together they have worked to bring native fungi into the food, medicine, and awareness of their community. He also heads up mycology operations at Farfields Farm and has recently helped form the cooperative Little Bluestem, a local genotype plant nursery focused on Albemarle County.

Workshop
Wild Edible Cooking Class

Walk
Basic Skills in Meeting Mushrooms


Dr. Chuck Bailey is a professor of Geology at William & Mary.  He teaches courses on the Earth’s Environmental Systems, Weather & Climate, Planetary Geology, Earth Surface Processes, and Structural Geology.  His research focuses on the geological evolution of Virginia, as well as more distant locales in the western US, Norway, and Oman. Over the past 26 years he has advised more than 170 William & Mary undergraduates on research projects. He is the current President-Elect of the Geological Society of America.  Additionally, he has paddled many Virginia Rivers by canoe for both research and adventure.

Presentation
A Brief History Of The James River: A Raucous Journey Through Geologic Time
The James River flows across Virginia from the high ridges of the Appalachians to the rolling Piedmont ultimately debouching into the Atlantic Ocean at Hampton Roads.  This talk discusses the age, origin, and geological history of the James.  It is a historic waterway, but we’ll look beyond human history to uncover the secrets of deep time and the paleogeography of the region from a billion years ago to the present.

Walk
Geology of the Blue Ridge


Doug Coleman, Field Botanist and Director of The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen, has been a regional expert in Southern Appalachian ecology for over 25 years. While he has co-authored many books on the region’s flora, including The Vascular Flora of the James River Gorge and The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Rare Plant Management Manual, he is perhaps best noted as a speaker and designer of programs and preservation concepts for the resort development community of Wintergreen in Nelson County, Virginia as well as several other similar communities. These programs and concepts have been the recipient of at least two national awards and have been published in many national magazines. Doug was instrumental in founding in Nature Foundation at Wintergreen in 1994, a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Presentation
Friday Night Kick Off & Evolution of Blue Ridge Forests
Doug will cover changes in climate that led to what we have remaining today in the Blue Ridge.

Walk
Wintergreen’s Wildflower: The Relic Gardens

Sunday Exploratory
Trip to Crawford’s Knob Area Preserve

Dr. Eric Day is a faculty member in the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech. He is Manager of the Insect ID Lab located on the main campus in Blacksburg, VA. The lab handles over a thousand samples per year from all over the state. Samples are from public, private and
commercial clients and samples can include and mites insects on vegetables, turf, fruit, trees and ornamentals, greenhouses, household and recreational areas, and livestock. Eric specializes in Insect Identification and Invasive Pest Surveys and has authored numerous Virginia Cooperative Extension publications.

Presentation
Beneficial and Non-Beneficial Insects
Dr. Day will discuss how to identify beneficial insects from the pests. His presentation will include photos of beautiful and iconic insects in Virginia like our state insect and provide information on invasive insects such an as the most recent, Spotted Lanternfly and the impact on landscaping and the natural ecosystem here in the Central Blue Ridge.

Walk
Pollinators Within the Landscape

Kevin Heffernan is a Stewardship Biologist for the Natural Heritage at Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Humanities at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995. He is the primary author of the DCR Invasive Plant Species List and the Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan. He serves as chairman of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, which provides information to the Secretaries of Natural Resources and Agriculture and other state agency leaders. Kevin has worked for DCR’s Natural Heritage Program for over 25 years, conducting biological surveys for rare and invasive species, participating in natural area restoration and invasive species management projects, and promoting the use of native plants in landscaping, roadsides, and utility-scale solar sites.

Presentation
Invasive Invaders
Kevin will help participants identify invasive species in our region as and will discuss what the future may hold with these encroaching plants in the state.

Walk
Little Plants: Big Problems

John James is an ASLA-licensed landscape architect. His projects have ranged in size and complexity from small residential landscapes to college campus planning; from historic site preservation to town planning; from reinventing small garden spaces to large estate master plans. He specializes in using native plants in landscaping. John received a BA in Theater Arts and a MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Walk
Welcome to the Blue Ridge
John will take participants to areas in Wintergreen to showcase pristine areas of the mountain.

Shawn Kurtzman is a biologist at the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech. There he conducts surveys for reptiles and amphibians, point count surveys for the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas, acoustic and aerial netting of Virginia bat species, and aquatic surveys of freshwater mussels and invertebrates. He also worked for the Maryland DNR conducting herpetological and invertebrate sampling of wetland seeps. Additionally, Shawn spent several years in Jamaica conducting territory mapping and invertebrate sampling before returning to the states. While living in New Orleans he became a Louisiana Master Naturalist before moving back north to Virginia. Besides hiking and birding for fun, Shawn helps lead a Virginia Tech student birding club, which provides opportunities for students to improve their birding and field survey skills.

Presentation
Serpents of the Southern Appalachians: Friend not Foe
Snakes are one of the most disliked of all the animals one is likely to see in the woods and fields of Appalachia. Even other reptiles such as turtles and lizards are often enjoyed or at least tolerated, while many people despise snakes. This is a shame, because snakes are beautiful, fascinating creatures that only want to be left alone by humans. We will delve into the perceptions, misconceptions, and benefits of snakes both in your backyard and in the wild.

Walk
Serpentines of the Southern Appalachians

Saturday Night Walk
Creatures of the Night
Explore the forest without the sun as we take a walk to learn about some of the nocturnal inhabitants. We will listen for owls, frogs and hope to see some of the animals that sleep during the day, such as bats. Bring a light and prepare to see how different the landscape feels in the dark.

Dr. Carole Nash, anthropologist, is likely the most knowledgeable researcher available today on Native Americans who inhabited the Blue Ridge Region. Her doctoral dissertation and field work in the immediate region is unsurpassed. She is also one of the best teachers of archaeology, attested to by her many inspired students over the years and those volunteers who have been fortunate enough to spend field time with her.

Presentation
The Native American’s Forest
Will discuss climate change:  what we know of human responses to upland climate change over the past 15,000 years, compared to changes today.

Walk
The Native American’s Forest


Nina O’Malley is a medicine maker and mushroom grower dedicated to helping the earth and people heal. Nina spends her time building relationships with plants and Fungi. A co-founder of Mush Luv, a small mushroom company based in Charlottesville, Virginia Nina offers local, handcrafted medicinal products and educational workshops to the community in central Virginia and wherever the fungi call her.

Workshop

Wild Edible Cooking Class

Walk
Basic Skills in Meeting Mushrooms


Josh Palumbo grew up outside Annapolis, Maryland fishing the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay and wandering the woods behind his house. He attended Virginia Tech and received a degree in Forest Resource Management. After spending a few years in the wilds of the Adirondacks, he came to The Nature Foundation as the Forest Management Coordinator. When not busy shuttling one of his four children to various activities, he can be found canoeing a lovely Virginia river, traipsing through the woods, coaching high school wrestling or on a date with his lovely wife.

Walk
To the Trees
Join Josh Palumbo as we venture across the Wintergreen landscape in pursuit of all things woody. The goal of this hike is to give you a crash course in woody plant identification and an in-depth look at the forest health at Wintergreen.  We will seek out the most diverse location for woody plants in order to best to increase your knowledge and appreciation of the forest.

Dr. Ashley Peele is an avian ecologist who has spent over 14 years studying wildlife conservation and management.  She is the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator and Researcher at VT’s Conservation Management Institute. Her research background and interests include avian microbiology, migration ecology, population biology and the application of citizen science tools for bird conservation. Dr. Peele will discuss research findings from the well-known 3 billion national bird loss study and which regional birds were most affected by these population declines.

Presentation
Where Have All the Birds Gone?
In 2019, landmark research, known as the 3 Billion Birds paper, described the decline of America’s avifauna over the last 50 years.  While this important work detailed many troubling declines, particularly for migratory songbirds, it also sparked a larger conservation movement dedicated to turning the tide for many rapidly declining bird species.  We will talk about what Virginia’s bird species are the focus of population declines and what all of us can do to contribute to their preservation.  Specifically, we will discuss species of conservation concern found in the VA’s Blue Ridge Mountains and some exciting preliminary results coming out of a large-scale citizen science project, the VA Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2).

Walk
Saturday morning bird walk

Evan Spears has been an outdoor educator since 2006 which is around the time he started seriously birding. Since 2012, he has been working in Virginia State Parks and is currently the Park Naturalist at Holliday Lake State Park in Appomattox County where he is in charge of interpretive programming. He is an active birder from south-central Virginia. Evan loves both patch and county listing. He is a member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology, former Vice President of the Farmville Bird Club, and Ornithology Lecturer for the Central Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, and Regional Coordinator for the 2nd Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (2016-2020).

Workshop
Shaping Up Birds


Joey Thompson,  Vegetation Ecologist at Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Environmental Scientist at VHB and Teaching Assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University. Joey is a Richmond, VA native who has had a passion for the natural world for as long as he can remember.  Joey began studying plant systematics and ecology intensively at the College of William and Mary, where he received his B.S. in Biology in 2014.  Joey went on to get his Master’s in Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016.  There he studied wax myrtle ecology on the Virginia barrier islands, and he published his thesis results in the Journal Ecosphere.  Joey has experience identifying plants and interpreting natural communities all along the east coast, a job which he conducts professionally at an engineering firm called VHB.  In his free time, Joey enjoys playing the drum, going on, and botanizing with his dog!

Presentation
Plant Identification 101
Learn how to identify plant families with Joey Thompson, Vegetation Ecologist with the Virginia Natural Heritage Program.  In this program Joey will teach characteristics of the 10 most common plant families in Virginia, allowing beginners to generally identify a large number of plants you see throughout Virginia.  Understanding plant families also greatly reduces the amount of time required to identify plants to species.  This program is a great way to jump start your plant identification skills as well as an important refresher for those of intermediate level.

Walk
Plant Identification by Family

John F. Townsend (Johnny) has served as the staff botanist with Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program for 21 years. He has broad interests in field botany and taxonomy, including vascular plants, mosses and liverworts. He is a co-author of the Flora of Virginia. He lives in Richmond, Virginia

Walk
Appalachian Spring Wildflowers

Thank you Farfields Farm for supporting the 2022 Spring Wildflower Symposium.