Ivy Talks

Albemarle’s Black Classrooms

From Lorenzo Dickerson's February 2017 Ivy Talk: Albemarle's Black Classrooms


This lecture series, offered by our Education Committee, features a mix of natural and cultural history topics geared toward adults. These talks are normally held in the Education Building at Ivy Creek Natural Area on the second Sunday of the month in February, March, April, September, October, and November, but are currently being offered on Zoom. Many of these talks have been recorded; links to the videos on YouTube are found below. All talks are free.

Upcoming Ivy Talks

Promoting Biodiversity at Ivy Creek: Fire, Deer, and Invasive Species Management (December 5, 2021, 2 pm)

Maximizing biodiversity in a place such as the Ivy Creek Natural Area requires active intervention. John Scrivani will discuss past and future biodiversity projects at Ivy Creek. John received his PhD in Forest Management from Oregon State University in 1985. After teaching forestry at Virginia Tech for four years, John took a Research Forester position with the Virginia Department of Forestry, where he managed field research, pine breeding, and forest inventory.  John joined the Ivy Creek Board of Directors in 1998 and served as President in 2000 and 2001.  John led the efforts to establish the warm-season grass fields and helped conduct the first prescribed burns at Ivy Creek.  John retired in 2017, to teach part-time at the University of Richmond, and to devote his volunteer efforts towards ecologic restoration, with both The American Chestnut Foundation and the Ivy Creek Foundation. 

This talk will be offered on Zoom. The talk is free, but pre-registration is required through this link:  https://app.donorview.com/0PowP

Past Ivy Talks

Our Public Treasure:  An Update on Ivy Creek Foundation's Efforts to Preserve and Interpret River View Farm (April 11, 2021, 2 pm)

Mowing at the River View Farm farmhouseDid you know that River View Farm is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Local historical landscape architect, Liz Sargent, assisted by historic preservation architect, Jody Lahendro, will guide us through the research work of a dedicated group of volunteers who support the preservation and interpretation of RVF. This important and exciting work helps further the ICF mission of connecting people to the past and present by honoring the land, history, and community. Join us in learning more about the vision and how you might participate or contribute!

Liz Sargent is a historical landscape architect, and principal of Liz Sargent HLA, a historic preservation firm based in Charlottesville. Liz is a former Board Member of Ivy Creek Foundation and lead of the Farmhouse study group that took the lead on preparing a National Register of Historic Places nomination for River View Farm. The group included many dedicated supporters who conducted extensive research into the history of River View Farm and the Carr-Greer Farmhouse in order to guide appropriate preservation and interpretation strategies for the future. This work continues under the auspices of the Foundation's Education Committee. Liz continues to contribute to this process by sharing her experience working on similar projects throughout the country.

Jody Lahendro is the Supervisory Historic Preservation Architect at UVA's Office of Facilities Management. His advice has been critical in the stabilization work being performed on the Carr-Greer Farmhouse and its outbuildings.  play button

Bringing Back the Bluebird: How Can You Be Part of It?  (March 14, 2021, 2 pm)

Two male bluebirdsIn the 1970s the populations of Bluebirds plummeted and their future was in question. Please join us for this exciting talk about one of the greatest conservation stories in America with the comeback of the Eastern Bluebird. Mike Bishop, native Virginian and master naturalist, will recount how the grassroots campaign that established trails of housing for the birds has brought back their numbers dramatically through the help of volunteers.

Mike is a native Virginian that has been interested in all wildlife since an early age. Since 1982 Mike has been involved with Bluebirds and Purple Martins where he established trails and colonies on his parent's property in Spotsylvania County, VA.Mike retired after 37 years in public safety, several years as a professional firefighter and then serving 21 years with the Fairfax County Police Dept. Retaining his lifelong love for the environment and native animals, he became a Virginia Master Naturalist in 2013 and was hired as a part time naturalist for the Fairfax County Park Authority, instructing school students in stream and watershed ecology.  He is also a Board member of the Virginia Bluebird Society. In 2015 he founded the Northern Virginia Purple Martin Initiative that has a mission statement of "Saving our native wildlife through direct action." To date it has established 23 Martin colonies, 4 Bluebird trails, a Wood Duck Trail and a Kestrel project on public lands.  play button

Bird's Eye View: Exploring the Historical Landscape of Ivy Creek Natural Area from Above (February 14, 2021, 2 pm)

Map of 1940s black-owned parcelsJoin us for a virtual tour of historic River View Farm and the surrounding Union Ridge area. Did you know that ICNA was part of a vibrant African American community? Illustrated with vintage maps and numerous aerial photographs spanning from the 1930s to 1970s, local Geographic Information Systems Analyst, Erik Irtenkauf will explore Ivy Creek's past and present. play button

Odonata:  Dragonflies and Damselflies! (March 8, 2020, 2 pm)

Our presentation will focus on dragonflies and damselflies with a particular emphasis on the species observed in Albemarle County.  Through a presentation of photos, we will discuss their natural history and ecology including their fascinating life cycles, role as predators and prey, preferred habitats, and some basic anatomy and tips for ID. After the presentation, specimens of adults, larvae, and exuviae will be available for viewing. 

Jim Childress and Emily Luebke, two local amateur naturalists, will present the program.  Mr. Childress has been doing fieldwork in this area for about 15 years, and published an article on the subject in Banisteria, the journal of the Virginia Natural History Society.  Ms. Luebke works as a field tech and wildlife photographer for Center for Urban Habitats and is also a member of the Rivanna Master Naturalists. 

Why Are Snakes So Cool? (February 9, 2020, 2 pm)

Whether your reaction is adoration or fear, there is no denying that everyone is fascinated by snakes. We will explore a few of the unique aspects of snake biology that generate their appeal, from how they lost their legs, to how they deliver venom, to their resistance to deadly poisons. We will also delve into the diversity of snakes in Virginia and beyond, with special attention to the biology of some of the species that are likely to be encountered at Ivy Creek.

Butch Brodie is the BFD Runk Professor of Biology at the University of Virginia, and is the Director of Mountain Lake Biological Station. He is an evolutionary biologist who studies how natural selection generates biodiversity, and how arms-races between species play out in nature. His research has taken him throughout Central and North America, studying mostly reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The Nature of Art: Seeing and Sketching Ivy Creek (November 10, 2019, 2 pm)

Virginia Greene, a local nature illustrator, will discuss the relationship between art and the natural sciences in the context of her own life as a biologist and artist. We’ll then discuss the value of sketching from nature and the basics of “seeing” nature with an artist’s intent, followed by a few optional drawing exercises, using both specimens indoors and plants and animals outdoors. Materials and light refreshments will be provided. Come learn another way to appreciate the natural world around us!

Ahead of Its Time: The (Unlikely) Creation of the Ivy Creek Natural Area (October 13, 2019, 2 pm)

Dede will discuss how one woman's dream to save a beloved landscape from development, fueled a movement to protect the Riverview Farm homestead as an natural oasis in a growing county. Come learn more about the movers and shakers of the 1970s who made Ivy Creek Natural Area a reality, and what we've learned since about the value of conservation and preservation.

Dede Smith served as the Director of the Ivy Creek Foundation from 1993-2007. During her tenure, the Education Center was built, Ragged Mountain Natural Area was created, and Ivy Creek was honored as an African American Heritage site. Dede volunteers as a nature guide in the Schools Tour Program and sits on the Carr-Greer farmhouse preservation committee.

Our Wild Neighbors: How Can We Help Them? (September 8, 2019, 2 pm)

Sarah Cooperman, from Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, will share her experience as a wildlife rehabilitator and discuss the many challenges that wildlife face in urban areas like Charlottesville.  Sarah will be bringing some live scaly, feathered and fuzzy educational ambassadors so you can get a close look at some of our wild neighbors!   Children are especially welcomed to this Ivy Talk. 

All About Food: Ivy Creek Farm, Hugh Carr to Mary and Conly Greer (April 7, 2019, 2 pm)

Alice Cannon, local artist and historian, will share River View Farm through the lens of food, from the first agricultural census that recorded Hugh Carr's crops, through the meals his daughter Mary Carr Greer cooked with her students at Albemarle Training School, to the county-wide efforts to improve farms that her husband Conly Greer brought to African American farmers as Albemarle's first black Agricultural Extension agent.

Pollinator Habitat! (March 17, 2019)

Nancy Adamson of the Xerces Society and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will discuss benefits of pollinators to humans and wildlife. Learn about the importance of native bees in local food production, and their connections to native plants, wildlife, and watersheds. Nancy will share resources for supporting diverse pollinators and other beneficial insects (many reduce garden pest problems!) by providing pollen, nectar, and shelter through the year.

Visions of River View Farm: The Carr-Greer Farmhouse at Ivy Creek (February 10, 2019)

Liz Sargent, historical landscape architect, and Steve Thompson, archeologist, shared updated information about ongoing renovation and rehabilitation planning for the historic River View Farmhouse at Ivy Creek. Efforts are intended to preserve this important local landmark and to integrate it more fully into the ICNA visitor experience. Learn about the house, its evolution, and its owners and occupants for nearly a century.

Lifting the Veil: A Hidden World of Plant-Fungal Interactions (November 11, 2018)

Get a glimpse into the little-known world of plant-fungal relationships with Mary Jane Epps, Assistant Professor of Biology at Mary Baldwin University. Based on a range of recent studies in the scientific literature, we explored how tiny fungal symbionts shape much of how plants interact with other organisms and their environment, often in surprising ways!

We Are All Downstream, restoring water quality for future generations (October 14, 2018)

Learn about current threats to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with Robert Jennings of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on October 14 at 2 pm. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment have caused many of our Bay water quality issues. How do nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment harm water quality and aquatic life? What can we do and can we solve the problems we have created? The Bay restoration is the largest scale watershed restoration in worldwide history. If successful, it could be a model for many other major watersheds across the nation and globe to emulate and improve upon, including the Mississippi River, Puget Sound, the Great Lakes, and more.

Endangered Species Act (September 30, 2018)

Of Mussels, Eagles, and the Pit Bull of Environmental Laws

Extinction is forever. Join us as Jon Cannon, distinguished UVA Environmental Law professor, discusses the Endangered Species Act. Sometimes called the pit bull of environmental laws, this Act helps preserve the balance of nature that serves Earth, our Ivy Creek resources, and all of humanity. Limited financial resources and recent actions by federal officials have reduced the Act’s reach and effectiveness. Proposed Congressional reform initiatives could further weaken protections for endangered species, as could litigation now pending before the Supreme Court.

Despite strong resistance from some states, developers, and anti-regulatory activists, the Act has worked to keep important species from extinction and promote their recovery. Endangered species we encounter locally, like the Bald Eagle (no longer on the endangered species list) and the James River Spiny Mussel, have benefitted from the its protections.

Jonathan Cannon is the Blaine T. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he also serves as director of the law school’s environmental and land use law program. He joined the law school faculty in 1998 from the Environmental Protection Agency, where he served as general counsel (1995-98) and assistant administrator for administration and resources management (1992-95). Cannon teaches environmental and energy law, land use law, and conservation planning and law. He has written on institutional design for programs as diverse as Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Superfund; the Supreme Court’s environmental decisions; and the future of the environmental movement. He is the author of “Environment in the Balance: The Green Movement and the Supreme Court,” published in 2015 by Harvard University Press. Cannon serves on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute and on the Advisory Board of Policy Integrity Institute.

Albemarle’s History Story Mapping (April 8, 2018)

Local Geographic Information Systems analyst, Erik Irtenkauf, will present the history of Albemarle County, specifically Ivy Creek Natural Area and the Hollymead vicinity using story maps. Story maps create an interpretative narrative of the history of these areas using digital maps, texts, photos and other records. We will explore the Carr-Greer families as well as other earlier landowners who shaped ICNA and learn how the presence of early inhabitants can still be seen today and the transformation from quiet rural farms to the bustling neighborhoods and commercial centers of today. See more here: https://ivycreek.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html

Wings Of Wonder: Birds of Prey (March 11, 2018)

Come see “Wings Of Wonder: Birds of Prey” an interactive, award-winning program delivered by Wendy and Ron Perrone, of the Three Rivers Avian Center, featuring live birds of prey including owls, falcons, hawks, and Regis, the Bald Eagle! Come see these birds up close, get to know about their habitats, and collect tips about what you can do to help wild birds around you. Bring your family and friends, and don’t forget your camera! This is a great interactive program for all ages. Three Rivers Avian Center is a West Virginia private, non-profit organization dedicated to providing veterinary and rehabilitative care to injured non-game wild birds and to educating and involving the public in ecosystem stewardship.

Tapes in the Attic and the Stories They Tell (February 11, 2018)

Come celebrate Black History Month with Ivy Creek!  Learn about the treasured tapes found in a 2015 cleanup of the Ivy Creek Education Building.  Ivy Creek historians, Dede Smith and Alice Cannon, will lead us through samples of recordings made in the 1980s that detail memories of the River View Farm property owned by Hugh Carr, an emancipated slave, and the Carr-Greer family.  Grandsons, Benjamin and Charles Whitten, recall their childhood visits to the farm and extended family in the 1920s and 30s.  The tapes of James Butler, extension agent for the African American farming community in the 50s who succeeded Conly Greer, take us on a tour through the barn and his recollections of it during the Greer time.  The information contained in these tapes led to changes in the interpretation of the barn and a better understanding of the life at River View Farm and the people connected to it.

Leaf, Blossom, Seed: A Brush With Nature (November 12, 2017)

Botanical artist, Lara Call Gastinger, will seek to inspire you with a presentation of her field journals, illustrations for the Flora of Virginia, and her recent botanical watercolor paintings. We will examine how the native flora of this area changes through the seasons and how an artist documents plants with watercolors.

Genius of Birds (October 8, 2017)

Acclaimed science and nature writer Jennifer Ackerman delves into cutting-edge research on the newly discovered brilliance of birds, revealing the science of their brains and behaviors. Jennifer's illustrated talk will explore how birds make and use their own sophisticated tools, solve complex problems, navigate to places they've never been, demonstrate astonishing feats of memory, craft artistic creations, negotiate their social world, and communicate in ways that resemble language.

Virginia's Bears: Forest, Field, and Front Porch (Sept. 10, 2017)

Bear on couchDavid Kocka discusses the management, habits and behaviors of black bears in Virginia. Topics of interest to homeowners and naturalists include how we can safely interact with bears and how to prevent bears from intruding upon human living spaces. Mr. Kocka is a District Wildlife Biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. play button

Bees and Beekeeping in Today's World (March 12, 2017)

Bee covered with pollenKaren and Ken Hall of the Central Virginia Beekeepers Association discuss the role of honeybees and beekeeping in modern society, and how we can enhance and protect them as a valuable resource. Their talk addresses such questions as, "Why do honeybees swarm?", "Are they taking pollen and nectar that would otherwise go to native bees?" and "Will honeybees survive?" play button

Bound to the Fire: Slavery, Race and Food in 18th and 19th Century Virginia (Nov. 13, 2016)

Bound to the FireThis talk focuses on enslaved cooks at Virginia plantations including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and George Washington's Mount Vernon, revealing how these enslaved persons were literally "bound to the fire," and yet, in these sweltering and often fetid conditions, produced delicious, complex, labor-intensive dishes which have influenced modern American cuisine. Dr. Deetz's book, "Bound to the Fire" is available for sale. play button

Waterworks: A History of the Local Water Supply, 1819-2016: A Drama Unfolding in Two Acts (Sept. 11, 2016)

Sugar Hollow Reservoir - mid 1900sIn the first part, Steve Thompson, local archaeologist, principal at Rivanna Archaeological Services and ICF Board Member, focuses on water supply at the University of Virginia from its founding to its collaborative venture to create the first publicly-owned municipal waterworks. In the talk's second part, long-time Charlottesville resident, former director of ICF and founder of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan, Dede Smith, chronicles the growth and evolution of the public supply system from the first Ragged Mountain Reservoir in 1886 through the recently completed dam reconstruction.

It Will Take Care of You: Farming in Albemarle County, VA in the 1930s to 1950s (May 22, 2016)

Molasses makingThis talk focuses on an interview with John Crickenberger and William Garrison, farmers near Charlottesville, about various farming techniques used in Albemarle County, VA from the 1930s through 1950s, especially dairy farming. Included is a discussion of River View Farm, purchased by Hugh Carr soon after Emancipation, and his son-in-law, Conly Greer, African Americans who farmed successfully in the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras in Virginia. By the end of the 1970s River View Farm had become the Ivy Creek Natural Area, a wildlife protection area managed by the Ivy Creek Foundation. play button

African American Heritage Trail Map: Union Ridge (Feb. 14, 2016)

Hugh CarrAfter the Civil War, the ridge crossed by the present-day roads of Hydraulic, Georgetown, and Woodburn was settled by emancipated African American families who created a vibrant farming community. Today the African American Heritage Trail Map: Union Ridge explores this area. Ivy Creek Natural Area is the first stop on the tour, as it is situated on the former River View Farm, once the largest African American-owned farm in the the area. This talk goes into more depth about the untold African American history of this area. play button