2020 Spring Wildflower Symposium Instructors

With everything going on in our world today, the excitement leading up to this event looks somewhat different today. We have spent the last six months working on The Spring Wildflower Symposium’s 40th anniversary event. The brochure for the Symposium would normally arrive in your inboxes next week. With the coronavirus’ current outbreak, we don’t feel comfortable opening registration until we are a little closer to the event and are confident the event can go on as planned. However, we wanted to share the schedule and a list of speakers in hopes we are able to have the event and maybe this will also give you something to look forward to. If we do have to cancel the May event, we are looking at rescheduling it to the fall and you can bet it will be an amazing celebration when it does happen. Stay safe and we wish you well.

 

 

Charlie Aller is a lover of mushrooms and an independent researcher of fungal roles in local ecosystems. He co-founded Mush Luv in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 with Nina O’Malley. Together they have worked to bring native fungi into the food, medicine realm and bring awareness of their community. Charlie also heads up mycology operations at Farfields Farm and recently helped form the cooperative Little Bluestem, a local genotype plant nursery focused on Albemarle County.
Lecture
• Remediating Ailanthus Altissima With Native Mushrooms
Workshop
Cooking with Local Culinary Mushrooms
Enjoy the scents and tastes of local foraged or cultivated mushrooms with this hands-on cooking demo! Learn about substituting for meat in your favorite recipes as well as several specific recipes that center on the unique traits of whatever mushrooms are seasonally available.

Dr. Woody Bousquet, retired Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, Shenandoah University, grew up in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, where he learned to love the outdoors through his parents, his grandparents, and natural history programs at the Berkshire Museum and Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. As a professor, he has inspired many aspiring environmental scientists as well as any who have had the privilege of spending time with him in the field. His study and recent publication of the Abram’s Creek Wetlands is a multi-year project that yielded new county and state records in a relict wetland in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Lecture
The study and recent publication on the Abram’s Creek Wetlands
This publication was co-authored by Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program’s Vegetation Ecologist, Gary Fleming who will join Dr. Bousquet in a question and answer session.
Walk
Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge

Doug Coleman, Field Botanist and Director of The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen, Doug 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 received at least two national awards and been published in many national magazines. Doug was instrumental in founding The 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.
Lecture
Wildflower Identification: Learning the Basics
Walk
Wildflowers: The Influence of Ecosystem

Dr. Shawn T. Dash is an Assistant Biologist, Department of Biology at Hampton University. Shawn teaches a variety of courses including introductory courses, zoology, and research design. He also teaches specialty courses on medical entomology, toxic and venomous animals, conservation biology, and a field-based biodiversity class focused on the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Lecture
Pollinators and Gardening for The Bugs and Birds
Dr. Dash will provide a presentation focusing on the complex interactions and interdependence of birds and insects, from feeding and parasites to the importance of insects in yards and gardens.
Walk
Aquatic insects

Nancy Donnelly-Walters is Director of Activities, Massanutten Resort.
Workshop
Origami with a Twist
Participants can create beautiful oragamis with the Smithsonian Institution’s very own origamis with beautiful orchid patterns to fold into lifelike paper orchids. This is a great workshop for teachers and educators.

Joan Feely is the curator of The American Native Collection at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC. She has an embedded history with The Nature Foundation. Many plants in the Arboretum’s Fern Valley Native Plant Collection came from Wintergreen as The Nature Foundation rescued shrubs, ferns, and wildflowers within the development’s clearing limits during the community’s intensive early years.
Lecture
Fern Valley and its Connection to Wintergreen
Walk
Native Wildflowers

Gary Fleming is a botanist with the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage and co-authored The Flora of Virginia. These first two chapters entitled The Nature of Virginia Flora, and Learning the Virginia Flora: 50 Sites for Productive Field Botany provide a stellar introduction to the award winning text. Gary will join Dr. Woody Bousquet in a question and answer session about their work in the Abram’s Creek Wetland.
Walk
Learning Virginia Flora

Ben Kessler of Farfields Farm is a teacher, biologist, writer, gardener, and nurseryman. His fascination with the process of the food web from birds eating mammals to mammals as herbivores has fueled his interest in botany. Ben works for Little Bluestem, a worker self-directed nonprofit local genotype native plants nursery and education center in Afton. Little Bluestem specializes in Piedmont Prairie and Blue Ridge woodland ecotype species, and adjectives. Ben lives in Nelson County.
Lecture
Tending the Backyard Nursery: Small-Scale Propagation Strategies
Workshop
Plant Propagation

Grow your own plants, from vegetable starts to local genotype natives! Learn all about propagating plants from seed, cutting, and root division. We’ll discuss home-made cultivation materials, nontoxic nutritional amendments, companion growing with beneficial insects, and other earth-friendly and cost-effective techniques for the home gardener.


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 Department of Natural Resources conducting herpetological and invertebrate sampling of wetland seeps. 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.
Lecture
Snakes of the Blue Ridge
Shawn will share his research on snakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, their distribution range, and climate change effects on their populations.
Walks
Ecology in the Blue Ridge: Working Together Collaborative Hike
Creature Feature Critter Search

Dr. Chip Morgan is a retired ophthalmologist, Flora of Virginia Board member and collaborator, and a leading local expert on Pteridophytes (The Ferns). He will join Gary Fleming on Saturday for his walk. Chip is someone that appears on participants’ bucket list every year.
Walk
Learning Virginia Flora

Dr. Carole Nash, RPA, has 40 years of experience in the archaeology of the Middle Atlantic region and is a specialist in the archaeology and historical ecology of the Appalachians. Her main research interests are the long-term environmental and cultural history of upland Native American cultures. She has taught at James Madison University for 31 years, where she is Associate Professor in the School of Integrated Sciences. University students and life-long learners have worked in the field with her on long-term field projects for the Shenandoah National Park and The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen. She is the author of over 175 technical reports, scholarly papers, and publications, including co-authoring Foundations of Archaeology in the Middle Atlantic (Routledge 2018). She is an appointed member to the Society for American Archaeology’s international committee on Climate Change Strategies and Archaeological Resources Committee. A practitioner of citizen science, Carole co-directs the Archaeological Technician Certification program for the Archeological Society of Virginia and the Department of Historic Resources.
Lecture
At the Edge of the Endless Mountains: The Archaeology of the Virginia Blue Ridge
Walk
The Native American Who Inhabited Our Region

Nina O’Malley is owner of Mush Luv, a small mushroom company based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is a medicine maker and mushroom grower dedicated to helping the earth and people heal. Nina spends her time building relationships with plants, fungi, handcrafting local medicinal products, and teaching workshops to the community in central Virginia.
Workshop
Wild Plants as Food and Medicine
Nina O’Malley and Kelly Walsh will lead a walk through Wintergreen’s ecosystems to show the edibility and medicinal uses of wild plants, both native and non-native, and wild mushrooms. This class will highlight certain species and their uses, drawing on modern and traditional uses, followed by a discussion and explanation on utilizing plants as medicine and food including harvesting ethics, processing techniques and more.

Dr. Ashley Peele, Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator and Researcher at Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute is an avian ecologist who has spent 12 years studying wildlife conservation and management. Her research background and interests include avian microbiology, migration ecology, population biology, and the application of citizen science tools for bird conservation.
Lecture
Where Have All the Birds Gone?
Dr. Peele will discuss the Cornell University’s study on the loss of three billion birds; their findings, the regional birds most affected by these population declines, and why it is important for citizens help track the bird population trends and work towards conservation/management plans to help slow the rate of loss.
Walks
Birds of the Blue Ridge
Ecology in the Blue Ridge: Working Together Collaborative Hike

Sarah Peltier is a District Wildlife Biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Sarah attended Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia where she received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Studies, and the University of Georgia where she received her master’s degree in Forest Resources.
Lecture
Black Bears in Virginia
Sarah’s presentation will cover bear biology and behavior, how to handle a bear encounter, and how to reduce human-bear conflicts.

Charles Smith is the Harvest Manager for Weyerhaeuser Timberlake Company. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from University of Tennessee. Charlie has worked for Weyerhaeuser and lived in the Central Virginia area for over six years. He was recently elected Director of the R.E. Lee Soil and Water Conservation District.
Lecture
Conservation Efforts of A Timber Company in Virginia
Mr. Smith’s will cover Weyerhaeuser’s conservation efforts In Virginia, including creating and maintaining a Southern Smooth Coneflower Habitat, the Riparian Hardwood Restoration (RHR), forest reforestation, and natural habitat creation.
Walk
Trees of Virginia

Kelly Walsh works at Farfields Farm in Afton, Virginia. Since earning her degree in Environmental Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University, Kelly has gained experience establishing forest gardens, production vegetable gardening, homesteading, wild foraging, working with medicinal plants, and teaching and co-founding a rotational livestock farm.
Workshop
Wild Plants as Food and Medicine
Kelly Walsh and Nina O’Malley will lead a walk through Wintergreen’s ecosystems to show the edibility and medicinal uses of wild plants, both native and non-native, and wild mushrooms. This class will highlight certain species and their uses, drawing on modern and traditional uses, followed by a discussion and explanation on utilizing plants as medicine and food including harvesting ethics, processing techniques and more.

Dr. Dennis Whigham holds the distinction of Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian’s Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland where he heads the Center’s North American Terrestrial Orchid research. He is a preeminent wetland scientist, author of the definitive international text on wetlands, and has been associated with The Nature Foundation for over 25 years. Dennis will present Saturday’s keynote address and update participants on his orchid research.
Keynote Lecture
Wetlands: A Global View of Their Diversity and Importance to Society
Lecture
Showcasing Native Orchids of the Blue Ridge
Walk
Showcasing Native Orchids of the Blue Ridge

Anne Witt is a Geohazards Geologist with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, focusing on earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes. As part of her work, she specializes in GIS mapping, LIDAR interpretation, and natural systems modeling.
Lecture
Lifting The Veil: How Lidar Technology is Revealing Virginia’s Geologic Treasures
New 1-meter LIDAR remote sensing data is now available for all of Virginia. LIDAR shows the Earth’s surface in amazing detail, revealing geologic and geomorphic features that have not been previously recognized. This talk will highlight some of these new discoveries and other cultural and historic features that can be identified with this new technology.
Walk
Geology in the field: flood basalts to ancient landslides