“A plant society? What is that? What kinds of things do you do?,” asked a somewhat incredulous young man visiting a VNPS table recently. One of the things we do, of course, is to have educational display tables at all kinds of events, where people can ask questions like this one! To the inquirer, I gave a brief overview of the society’s mission and activities, but when I got home, I kept thinking of all the things I hadn’t mentioned.
The Virginia Native Plant Society’s tag line is “Saving wild flowers and wild places.” That certainly covers a lot of ground! And each chapter has its own unique way of responding to the call to action. I’ve only been a member for two years, so there are probably many things I don’t know about, but in case anyone asks you, here is a list of some of the things we do.
- maintains a Registry Site Program to protect places with “an exemplary occurrence of a habitat, a plant community, or a plant species
- has an annual fundraiser to benefit special causes, The Flora of Virginia and the Flora of Virginia Project are two examples of recent ones
- on some occasions, subject to many considerations, does plant rescues/relocations
- chapters lead walks and give programs that teach the public about native plants
- chapters also help with school and community programs and gardens, and some give small scholarships
- chapters propagate plants and hold plant sales
- chapters volunteer at local parks, removing invasives, planting and maintaining native plants
- VNPS holds two annual events, a spring workshop dedicated to academic study of timely topics, climate change this year; and an annual meeting in the fall, held in different parts of the state, with speakers and field trips. Each year there are several additional extended, overnight field trips in places of special interest
- features a Wildflower of the Year, highlighting a native plant in complete botanical detail and producing a brochure for public use
- the Society’s various committee chairs follow legislation that may impact native plants or natural areas, and keeps the membership informed. Recent initiatives include letters written to urge a ban on pesticide use, and a campaign to have members support additional funding for the Natural Heritage Program. Chairman go with interested members to meet with legislators in Richmond.
- has an Invasive Alien Plant group that coordinates activities, meets with folks at Natural Heritage and also follows legislative issues
- maintains a website, the website keeps a current list of: native plant nurseries, invasive plants, plant sales, and events
- has an active Facebook page covering plants, plant news, and all chapter’s activities
- produces a quarterly newsletter: Sempervirens
- has a knowledgeable and dedicated Board of Directors that meets quarterly
- has a part-time office manager who fields and re-reroutes inquiries, manages memberships, handles registrations, makes deposits. She is in the office at our mailing address at Blandy Farm.
- works in close association with a number of partners, including:
♦ the Virginia Natural Heritage Program
♦ the Flora of Virginia Project, which now includes the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora,
♦ the State Arboretum of Virginia,
♦ the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council
♦ the Plant Conservation Alliance
That’s a pretty good list for a 99.5% volunteer, non-profit organization, don’t you think? I did forget to mention that while we are doing all this good work, we are learning an enormous amount, and even more importantly, we’re having fun! If you are a member, THANK YOU for your support! And if you aren’t, don’t miss out, join today!