1Q Event

Calling all members and friends: Join us tomorrow (Saturday, 3/11) at St. Thomas’ Episcopal on the Bayou for our First Quarter meeting and to work on our project there at the church. We begin at 1:30 p.m. in the pavilion next to the church.

The iNaturalist map of our 330+ observations on this site. St. Thomas’ is at 3706 Bon Aire Dr.

As guest speaker, Bette Kauffman will describe the scope of the project we began last year of adding educational natural history signage to the walking path and will lay out a plan for completion. The part of the project we will do tomorrow is to inventory and map the trees. This data will be used on the signage and be the basis of our decisions about how many trees to label, which ones and where.

LMN-NE will be joined in the day’s work by several members of the church and some students from Canterbury@ULM, the campus group that meets at St. Thomas’ and previously contributed by planting native plants along the walking path. Canterbuy@ULM received a “Care of Creation” grant from the Episcopal Diocese of over $6000 to pay for the signage.

The home page of our assessment project on iNaturalist. Go here to browse the many species we have already identified.

Canterbury@ULM is also providing pizza and beverages to be shared while LMN-NE has its Second Quarter meeting after the work is finished.

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, and the site is certainly beautiful. Please come, bring a friend who might be interested in LMN-NE, and join in the adventure of figuring out how to inventory trees on a two-city-lot natural area! St. Thomas’ is at 3706 Bon Aire Dr.

1 Down, 4 To Go

Our first certification workshop of Spring 2023 was a great success. About a dozen people came together in the Environmental Learning Center out at Black Bayou Lake NWR for a fun and educational experience.

Kim Paxton illustrated her talk on nature journaling with photographs of pages from Amy Ouchley’s nature journalis, as well as from her own. Photo by Charles Paxton.

We spent the first hour and a half on nature journaling, with Kim Paxton standing in for Amy Ouchley. We missed Amy, but Kim did a great job.

After Kim’s presentation, everyone went outside to make some observations and try sketching and writing about those observations.

A split gill mushroom, observed and photographed by Linda Norwood.

Bette Kauffman focused on making observations to be shared with the research community via online platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. Numerous examples show how these databases contribute to scientific understanding of such things as climate change and declining bird populations worldwide. It is thus important that citizen scientists, like Master Naturalists, are thorough and accurate in making and submitting observations. We have a direct impact on the quality of those databases.

We ended the day with instruction on some principles of interpreting nature to various audiences and a quick review of projects the Master Naturalists of our chapter have done to complete their training and become certified.

Coming next: Mammals with Dr. Kim Tolson, March 18, 9-3. Look for a blog post soon. Check the “Events” list in the right hand sidebar of this page for the entire series.

Basic Field Skills

We are on for Feb. 11! Basic Field Skills will begin at Black Bayou Lake NWR in the Environmental Learning Center at 9 a.m. and continue until about 3 p.m.

This photo of an American Coot (Fulica americana) is evidence of a feature of coots and their scientific classification that many people do not know.

Click on the “Certification” tab at the top of this page. A flyer describing the day is available for download. To register, you can either click on the PayPal “Buy Now” button or download and print the form. It might be a little late to mail the form, so just let me (Bette Kauffman) know if you’re coming and bring it with you. Anyone who wants to pay on site can do so, but please let me know you are coming.

For those who did a Basic Field Skills workshop before, this one will be a bit different. I have refocused my portion of it to emphasize our important role as Master Naturalists in putting our skills to work. Here’s how I describe it on the flyer:

“We will have 45 minutes to an hour of instruction on the importance and value of doing citizen science. We will discuss the nature of ‘evidence’ and how contributing to citizen science platforms is different from sharing with your friends on social media. This will include how to use eBird and iNaturalist and how to observe in order to produce data that enhance the scientific value of these platforms, as well as how to use them to extend your own knowledge and help others in the online naturalist community.”

My iNaturalist profile.

The structure of this workshop will be instruction followed by application in short forays into the refuge, then returning to the education center to discuss and share what we did. The last 45 minutes of the day will be spent on interpretation, which will include examples of what others have done for their certification projects and strategies for sharing your natural history knowledge with different kinds of audiences, e.g., kids.

For those who wish to become Certified Master Naturalists, this is basic and important material. For those who are already certified or don’t wish to become certified, I think you will find things of value here that will enhance your natural world experiences.

Hope to see you next Saturday!

A Fab Event!

The Fourth Quarter Membership Meeting of the NE Chapter of Louisiana Master Naturalist Association at “Heartwood” December 11 was a fabulous event. A few of us had some difficulty finding it, but it was well worth finding.

Once we had assembled, Kelby Ouchley led a marvelous lecture and group discussion about red and white oaks. He also spoke briefly about pines. Then we embarked upon a walk of discovery! We saw many species of mushrooms and fungi, a variety of trees, and a plethora of plants, including many patches of crane-fly orchid leaves.

After the walk, we returned to the gathering spot, roasted hotdogs and enjoyed a buffet of great food, including chicken of the woods and lots of desserts.

During the Membership Meeting, we elected new officers and discussed the broad plan for the new year. Bette Kauffman, who is now President of the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association (our statewide organization), moves to the position of Immediate Past President and will act in an advisory capacity to the NE Chapter’s new President, David Hoover. Charles Paxton agreed to continue in the capacity of treasurer. April Honaker was elected to be our secretary and Susan Hoover to be Membership & Outreach chair.

After the meeting, we drew numbers to exchange gifts. Charles Paxton got to open three gifts because other people kept claiming his prizes. It was all in good fun!

We are planning workshops for 2023 and hope to have one every month from February to June. Watch your email and check on our website for updated information! Hope to see you there.

Susan Hoover

Let us party!

But of course, in keeping with who we are, some of our partying will be educational and natural history oriented.

We meet at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at Heartwood Natural Area near Rocky Branch, La. We will begin our festivities with a guided walkabout of this upland hardwood forest conserved by Kelby and Amy Ouchley. If you need directions to this location, please contact me at

How did a Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) get to Heartwood? Who knows. But note that the leaves are wider than those of the Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata).  

Hot dogs and all the fixings, including chili, will be provided but you might have to roast your own around an open fire. These will be followed by s’mores! If you would like to bring a side dish or holiday goodies, please do.

If you would like to participate in our gift swap, bring a $15-$20 item, wrapped or bagged. Those who participate will draw a number and pick a gift. I can’t promise but bartering might ensue after the initial distribution!

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) thrives around the pond at Heartwood.

And please do RSVP. Again, you can email me at We need a headcount to buy hot dogs, buns, etc.

We will also squeeze in a business meeting. I’ll try to keep it short, but we do need to elect officers, introduce some new members, and take care of a few things in order to get 2023 off to a good start.

BTW, you are not required to be a member to attend this event. If you are interested in what we do, come find out!