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Spring Schedule

Need to complete your certification requirements? Need to begin accumulating continuing ed hours? LMN-NE has a lot to offer!

January 25, Basic Field Skills – Nova Clark, Amy Ouchley and Bette Kauffman will reprise their basic field skills workshop but with some important differences. Amy will present a draft of her certification project on observing, writing and sketching. Bette will demonstrate how photography and iNaturalist can enhance your knowledge. Nova will present on interpretation, which is what we all must do for our certification projects.

Although this workshop will contain some new material, if you used the first one we offered in early 2018 toward certification, this one will count as continuing ed credit.

March 14, PhenologyDr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee has developed a new specialty and is anxious to present it to us! This is an entirely new topic, thus will count for certification credit even if you took one of Dr. Joydeep’s ecology workshops. If you are already certified, it will count as continuing ed.

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Dr. Joydeep

As some of you recall, Dr. Joydeep is a big fan of citizen science. When I asked him to pick a date for this workshop, he picked early March because he wants to get us started collecting data ASAP.

April 11, BugsWe are going to make this happen. Yay! When the Trammells were here to participate in our graduation, they gave me a new lead and I am happy to report that Stacy Blomquist eagerly accepted my invitation. She works for the National Forest Service, developed her workshop for the CENLA chapter, and–icing on the cake–has a relative living in our corner of the state. We win!

Judging by the photo she sent me, she’s going to fit right in with our chapter! 🙂

Again, this is a brand new one for us, so…. if you’re working toward certification, be there! And if you’re already certified, continuing ed, of course.

Blomquist
Stacy Blomquist is attacked by the Orkin roach.

April 25, Mammals Back by popular demand, Dr. Kim Tolson is looking forward to repeating her workshop with us, but she too is thinking about some new ways to create a learning experience for us. Whatever she comes up with, I’m sure it will be fun and informative.

Soooo….. there you have it, folks! Get these dates into your planner now. It’s going to be a great spring series, and I hope to continue it into May and June. A few general reminders:

1. Details will be forthcoming on all of these. Stay tuned!

2. Our workshops cost $25 each. They are for adults only. Although non-members can attend, members seeking certification will get priority.

3. Your 7th workshop is free, so if I forget to let you know that it’s your 7th, please remind me.

Dec. 15: Business + Fun!

The fun will begin at 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at Black Bayou Lake NWR Visitor Center with a Christmas Party. The business is a Board of Directors meeting that will precede the party at 3 p.m.

So let’s talk about FUN first! All LMN-NE members and their families are invited. Please bring holiday finger-foods to share. Suzanne Laird–Dartez will bring a beverage. I might, too, like a couple of bottles of sparkling wine!

If you wish to participate in a gift exchange game, modeled on the “white elephant” or “dirty Santa” games (but featuring nothing dirtier than, perhaps, actual dirt), bring a nature-themed gift in the $15 price range. Nature books, field guides and/or outdoor gear are all viable options. (Participation not required.)

Thanks, Suzanne, for organizing this!

Business: The Board of Directors meeting will begin at 3 p.m. I’ll distribute a tentative agenda to those folks at a later date. For the moment, as I indicated at the last members meeting, we need to be cognizant that our By-Laws require officers to be certified Master Naturalists. That was not possible in the beginning. Now as we move into our third year as an organization and have certified Master Naturalists plus several more soon to be certified, we need to come into compliance with our By-Laws.

Here’s a list of current Board members and officers: Bette Kauffman (Pres & State Board Rep), Stuart Hodnett (VP), Nova Clarke (Secy), Charles Paxton (Treas & State Board Rep), Kimberly Paxton (State Board Rep & State Board Secy), Roselie Overby (Membership Secy), Suzanne Laid-Dartez, Jeff Barnhill, Stephanie Herrmann.

Two serious invitations: First, if you are on the Board and feel you cannot serve in that capacity as the organization grows and requires more of you, please let me know. Second, if you are not on the Board but are interested in becoming more active in the leadership of this developing organization, please let me know.

See you the 15th, at 3 for business and/or at 4 for fun!

Graduation!

Woohoo! The big day is next Sunday. We will graduate six Master Naturalists: Kalem Dartez, Susan Hoover, Bette Kauffman, Suzanne Laird-Dartez, Charles Paxton, Kim Paxton.

Betsy and Sonny Trammell are coming up from the CENLA Chapter to hand us our certificates. Sonny has been on the statewide board longer than I have. When I mentioned at our statewide face-to-face board meeting in September that we would love it if someone who is already a Master Naturalist would come and do this for us, they volunteered immediately and enthusiastically. Thank you, Sonny and Betsy!

We’ll begin in the Visitor Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR at 2:30 p.m. Our graduation ceremony will be short. Please bring finger foods to share. We will have a short business meeting, but will end in time to show off our beautiful Refuge to Betsy and Sonny.

This would be a great time to invite folks who might be interested in Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast.

Kim and Suzanne, please bring t-shirts. Christmas is coming and our t-shirts would make great gifts.

 

Celebrate Fall!

Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast will have its biggest presence ever at Fall Celebration this coming Saturday, Oct. 12, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This is our third year to be at Friends of Black Bayou’s annual event. But this year, instead of one table, we will have two, plus not only displays and information, but t-shirts to sell and coloring pages for the kids.

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Kim Paxton’s tri-fold of her certification project, Healing Nature, along with a tri-fold brochure we had made of the key content, will share a table with our long-sleeved blue Louisiana water thrush t-shirts. I can’t wait for weather cool enough to wear mine again!

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The other table will feature our organizational tri-fold and our organizational brochure, plus the yellow black bear t-shirts. This is the t-shirt I’ll be wearing Saturday, and I love it, too.

Along the front of both tables, we’ll have assorted crayons and color pencils, plus individual coloring pages. Kids of all ages will be welcome to color a page and either take it with them or let us tape it to the edges of our tables for others to see.

And now I must share the saga of the coloring pages. Would you believe purchasing a coloring book of nature-themed images of good quality but easy enough for kids of all ages is currently impossible in Monroe and West Monroe, La.? I couldn’t even find anything online except “free” pages that you had to download someone’s app to get! No, thank you.

Now, you want unicorns or mermaids? Or cartoon characters? Pile them in your cart! But what are we teaching our kids? That a fake creature is more interesting than the wonderland we live in? I was soooo disgusted and have concluded that we need to create a “Master Naturalist Coloring Book.” We’ll be talking about it….

Coloring Pages
Multiple copies of these coloring pages will be available for kids Saturday.

In the meantime, I found ONE very nice coloring book for adults that had quality, but way too complicated images. So I bought it and traced selected pages, leaving out the excess complexity, and ending up a lovely set of drawings suitable for kids. This will do for this time, but it is probably questionable under copyright law. Again, in the long run, we need our own coloring book!

I, Suzanne, Kalem and at least one of the Paxton’s will be on duty at our tables, but it would be wonderful if others would come by and help out from time to time. And if you’re not yet a Master Naturalist, we’ll sign you up on the spot!

See you Saturday.

Hug a Tree for Science!

A picnic shelter at Kiroli Park turned out to be a great place to begin. Birdsong, an occasional frog, early morning light and a gentle breeze provided a delightful backdrop to Dr. Joydeep’s introduction to Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology.

How does one convey in a short period of time the “flavor” of a field that begins with the premise that “everything is connected”? It’s a tall order, but Dr. Joydeep engaged us with tales of his own research in the Himalayas, basic concepts well explained, and activities that gave us a taste of what an ecologist does, whetted our appetite for citizen science and affirmed our value as naturalists.

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Stephanie & Maggie Herrmann collected insects for Maggie’s school project along the way.      (photo by Charles Paxton)

“Ecology is grounded in patterns.” I had never thought of it that way before, but it made sense immediately. And then with one aerial photo of a landscape, we dived in, making observations, identifying patterns, and generating questions for further investigation.

We could have spent all day listening and discussing, but… there we were in a park full of trees! So we learned how to estimate the diameter of trees. I was astounded that after practicing on just 5 trees, we were able to estimate the diameter of 5 other trees within a few centimeters. I used the “hug a tree” method and it served me reasonably well.

Before leaving Kiroli Park, we walked a short way down a trail to a platform on the lip of a small ridge overlooking a wet area. From that vantage point, we could see the change in plant life from the mesic habitat at the top of the ridge (white oak, musclewood) to the hydric habitat at the bottom (water tupelo, river cane).

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Dr. Joydeep goes way out on a limb to drop the water testing sensor into the still water of a pond at Restoration Park while I read off the numbers for others to record.     (photo by Charles Paxton)

We reconvened at Restoration Park after lunch. There we did some water quality testing in order to observe the differences between a stagnant pond (lentic) and a flowing stream (lotic), and between water on the edge of the park and water deeper into the park.

One of the great values of natural areas like Restoration Park is their ability to improve water quality, and we were able to demonstrate that. The moving water deeper inside the park was cooler, contained more dissolved Oxygen and had a lower pH.

All in all, it was a fascinating and fun day. Many thanks to Charles Paxton for providing photos for this post and to David Hoover for sharing his excellent notes.

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On our way out of Restoration Park, we encountered this adorable little rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus).     (photo by Charles Paxton)