2021 Annual Meeting & Program [via Zoom]

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Friday, September 17, 2021 to Saturday, September 18, 2021
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


The VNPS 2021 Annual Meeting will be held via Zoom Video Conference on the evenings of Friday, September 17 and Saturday, September 18.

The Meeting and Presentations are free and open to the public; donations are most welcome.

Session 1: 9/17/2021

Session 2: 9/18/2021

Annual Meeting: Virginia is for Conservation Lovers

Per the VNPS Bylaws, the Annual Meeting is held to elect officers and at-large members of the Board, to approve the budget for the following year, and to conduct such other business as may be appropriate.

Friday, September 17

Saturday, September 18

  • 6:30pm: Informal social time
  • 7:00pm: VNPS Business Meeting and Elections
  • 7:30pm: Presentation by Jason Bulluck and Rob Evans of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program: “A New Chapter for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and Natural Area Preserves.” Jason and Rob will briefly cover topics of increased programmatic budget, new positions and staff, retirements, followed by Rob on land conservation successes resulting in a new Natural Area Preserve and many new additions to existing Natural Area Preserves.



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The following members are proposed for election or reelection to the VNPS Board of Directors (2021 to 2024):

Nancy Vehrs
Nancy Vehrs has been VNPS President for nine years and will be beginning her 4th term in that office. She previously served on the VNPS board as recording secretary. She is also President of the Prince William Wildflower Society and is on the Board of the Upper Occoquan Service Authority. She leads regular bird walks, has been a team leader at the Nokesville Christmas Bird Count since 2008 and leads a sector of the Manassas Butterfly Count. Nancy recently received the highest award that the National Garden Clubs gives to non-members — their National Award of Excellence for her work and dedication in conservation and native plant initiatives. In 2018, the Prince William Conservation Alliance honored Nancy with the Heart of Gold Award for her service, contributions, and conservation advocacy. Nancy is well known across Virginia for her successful efforts to conserve and protect Virginia native plants and our precious environmental resources. Before retiring in 2012, Nancy served for 21 years as Clerk of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She is a graduate of the College of William & Mary.

John Hayden
Botany Chair
John Hayden is Professor of Biology at the University of Richmond and has served as VNPS Botany Chair since 2004. He has written the VNPS Wildflower of the Year brochures and regularly contributes scientific articles for our Sempervirens quarterly. He has also served on the VNPS Research Grants Review Committee since its inception in 2015 and led the Seeds of Success effort in 2005. John participates on social media and patiently answers plant identification queries.. He is an active member of the VNPS Pocahontas Chapter, frequently presents chapter programs, and teaches botany to Master Naturalists. He earned a BS from the University of Connecticut and MS and PhD from the University of Maryland, and is a Fellow of the Virginia Academy of Science.

Peggy Troyer
Fundraising Chair
Peggy and Dean moved to Virginia in 2008, and joined the VNPS in 2009, on the assumption that anyone who would select Skunk Cabbage as the Wildflower of the Year must have a terrific sense of humor! And they’re still members! Peggy is an enthusiast, not an expert. (This was coined by Cathy Mayes on the Texas Wildflower Trip to explain Peggy’s ignorance of the finer points of differentiation within species of some aster or other). She feels serving on the board is just payback for the tremendously educational Sempervirens issues over the years (now that she has stopped calling it Semiperviens- is that partially permeable?) and the outstanding annual meetings and winter conferences. We miss them sorely with this expletive expletive virus! However, she has been pleased with the response to the most recent fundraising campaigns, aided exponentially by those more social media-savvy than herself! This year, as last, the fundraising objective is an attractive one, and Peggy looks forward to another pleasantly surprising campaign.

Laura Beaty
Horticulture Chair
Laura Beaty has been working in the great outdoors since she was old enough to hold a rake. She earned a degree in history followed by a degree in horticulture, and worked nearly 20 years for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the National Parks Conservation Association. Laura serves as the VNPS Horticulture Chair and is the Propagation and Plant Sale Chair of the Potowmack Chapter of VNPS. She is a member of the Fairfax County Tree Commission, and is a popular speaker about native plants to Master Gardeners, local garden clubs, and many other organizations interested in native plants. Laura is converting her own property to a “modified meadow,” which includes some trees and shrubs—all native plants. She hopes that her plant installations will soon become easy maintenance. But as all gardeners know, a garden is a life-long labor of love.

Kathleen O’Shea
Membership Chair
Kathleen began her career as an Archaeologist, which required an understanding of indigenous and anthropogenic plants in the interpretation of landscapes. Her fascination initially focused on edible and medicinal plants, but eventually she discovered the value of flora she couldn’t eat. She was immersed in the world of native plants during her five-plus years working at Huntley Meadows Park, a nature preserve in Alexandria. Her professional experience includes managing park operations, coordinating volunteers, marketing, and public outreach. And, of course, she is very skilled in the use of a wide variety of digging tools. Kathleen was raised in Burke in Northern Virginia and is an alumna of James Madison University. She and her husband live with their two young sons in the Richmond area. She believes in the mission of the VNPS and will focus her efforts on assisting local chapters engage and retain members through outreach and partnerships.

Mark Murphy
Director at Large – Web Administrator
Mark Murphy has been the VNPS Web and technology manager since 2017 and worked as a manager and administrator in the IT and internet business. Mark also helped build membership and fundraising systems for several non-profit organizations including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Association of Retired Federal Employees. Although he grew up and attended college in Montana, he has lived in Virginia since 1985, and is Vice-President of the VNPS Potowmack chapter. Mark also volunteers with the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation. He is grateful to his wife, Donna, for introducing him to the world of native plants.

Erika Gonzalez-Akre
Director at Large
Erika is a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) where she collaborates on multiple forest ecology projects related to the ForestGEO (Forest Global Earth Observatory) program. Erika holds a B.S. in Earth Sciences (1997), a M.S. in Geology (2002) and a M.S. in Tropical Botany (2007) from Venezuela.

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