Public events and training

These outings and programs give the public a chance to learn about local natural resources from experts. Participants will be introduced to different environmental themes, and will be trained to conduct citizen science on their own.

Our EcoExperiences offer the public specialized half-day excursions at the VCU Rice Rivers Center.

Public programs

Science in the Park 

Fairy Shrimp from Friends of James River Park on Vimeo.

Walk and talk with a scientist or natural history expert as you learn about the plants, animals, geology and ecosystems of the fascinating, ever-changing James River Park System:

Take walking audio tours on your mobile of the geology of the fall zone:

Become a contributing member to the park’s iNaturalist project and help document seasonal changes of flora and fauna within the park. Check the park’s website for the next scheduled walk.

And follow the Park game camera project and animals on the Urban Wildlife Facebook page:

Progressive odonatathon
Virginia’s great diversity of dragonfly and damselfly species will keep you moving as you help to catalogue these iconic flyers in different locations and habitats in counties around the region. Time and date varies.

Black Lights and Owls with Dr. Art Evans and Anne Wright
Join us for this annual potluck dinner and all-night celebration of insects, owls and frogs. Using ultraviolet and mercury vapor light traps, we document these nocturnal riches, and photography opportunities abound at the VCU Rice Rivers Center and Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery. Overnight camping is encouraged. Date and details are posted every April.

Vernal pools
This workshop provides a crash course in vernal pool ecology with a trip to a pool for in-the-field training. It highlights Virginia’s “obligate” pool resident animals whose survival depends on these increasingly threatened habitats.

Chapter volunteer teams can join the Vernal Pool Cooperative of Virginia and contribute to a statewide project identifying and monitoring vernal pools on public lands. Follow the project and the vernal pool season on Facebook at Vernal Pools VA Facebook page.

Stream ecology and aquatic macroinvertebrates
This workshop provides an introduction to stream ecology and the insects and other creatures that live in our rivers and tributaries. Lecture and field training are combined to give hands-on experience in sampling methods and field identification techniques at the Save Our Streams level.

Dragonflies and damselflies
This half-day workshop introduces you to the exciting world of the Odonata, or “toothed” ones. Found in almost every freshwater habitat around the world, dragonflies and damselflies are iconic insects with fascinating life histories and interesting behaviors. Their great beauty and diversity will capture your imagination.

Master Naturalist trainings
The following are available by request for chapters of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program. Each five-hour training session provides lecture material and in-the-field experience.


The VCU Rice Rivers Center hosts opportunities for the general public to experience “Science in Action” with field workshops throughout the year. These EcoExperiences are held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., unless otherwise stated. 

Registration is limited and there will be a $10 fee to reserve a spot. These are outdoor activities and may be canceled or postponed dependent on weather conditions. This year's dates are TBA. Past activities have included:

Catch and Release Dragonflies

Bird Field Day: Identifying Birds by Sight and Sound

Wading into Wetlands: An Amphibian’s Eye View of Some Exceptional Ecosystems