Litter Begone!

If you hate litter, as most of us Master Naturalist types do, here’s an opportunity to make a difference!

This Saturday, October 9, meet at the gazebo at the 700 Downing Pines Rd. entrance to Restoration Park in West Monroe at 7 a.m. That’s right in front of the Ouachita Green office.

Before: Fallen trees are perfect snares for trash coming downstream.

Wear work gloves and waterproof boots and bring a trash picker if you have one. We hope to have some extras borrowed from Friends of Black Bayou; however, a lot can be done with gloves. LMN-NE will provide trash bags.

A pocket knife or pen knife is also useful for cutting out trash entangled in roots or cutting plastic that is partly buried.

After: The trash is “in the bag.” What a gratifying difference!

LMN-NE has taken on the task of clearing litter from “Jungle River,” which runs through Restoration Park. The Paxtons have done the bulk of the work so far. This is an excellent opportunity for many more of us to get involved.

Jungle River is a delight. Willows and taro plants line its banks. It is home to native birds, amphibians and insects, and a variety of other critters leave their tracks in the soft banks.

Jungle River is perfect habitat for this Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata).

The river has a natural gravel bed and, in fact, the park was once an industrially mined gravel pit. Then it became a garbage dump, so today the trash that mars its beauty is a mix of new and old–new brought into the park from it’s much larger drainage area and old that resurfaces after every heavy rain.

We’re planning to do another litter pick from kayaks at Black Bayou Lake later this month or in November. For those who are certified, these are great opportunities to do your required volunteer hours.

BTW, I will not be able to participate this time. The Paxtons are in charge of this event and will have a sign-in form that constitutes a liability waiver, as is our practice.

Note: Photos in the post are by Charles & Kim Paxton.

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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.

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.

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.


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!

bear back 1

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.

Gloomy Weather, Great Fun

We were all so glad we stayed the course and conducted our quarterly meeting at Poverty Point today! Yes, it was a tad cold, but it didn’t rain. A little muddy, but we were wearing boots. And the grey skies did not dampen our spirits.

The staff at Poverty Point was awesome. Eric in the museum demonstrated  the technique whereby the ancient people of Poverty Point drilled holes in all kinds of things–including rocks to be tied to fishing nets to facilitate casting.

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About to lead us to the top of the biggest mound, Ranger Mark explains that we really don’t know why the people worked so hard to move all that dirt in such a short period of time to build the mound.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Ranger Mark taught us to throw a spear using an adle-adle, then took us on a hike around the mounds, explaining what we think we know about the people, what they did and why they might have done it.

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Terri Maness’ great arm action makes good use of the adle-adle and her spear soars toward but falls a bit short of the target.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Here are a few highlights from our meetings:

!. We will join the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations. This will enable us to get a discount on liability insurance to protect our officers and board members in the event of a lawsuit.

2. We decided to keep the logo given us by the statewide association and put it on the front of our t-shirt in the breast pocket position. We chose two back designs, the Louisiana waterthrush and the bear sniffing fire pinks. Kim Paxton and Suzanne Laird-Dartez will now research t-shirt printing options.

3. We agreed that the same officers should continue for another year for the sake of continuity, given we are such a young organization. However, Stephanie Herrmann asked to be replaced as Treasurer due to time pressures and Charles Paxton agreed to take that position.

4. We formed a Certification Committee consisting of Bette Kauffman, Charles Paxton and Suzanne Laird-Dartez. This committee will address the issue of interpretive project requirements/guidelines and will plan the next cycle of certification workshops.

5. We would like to form a Program Committee to help plan our quarterly meetings and family fun outings–anything else we want to do. One person was nominated to work with the president but has not been asked yet. Anyone interested in working on this committee, please respond to the president ASAP!

Good meeting! I’ll be working on updating the calendar with a host of upcoming events. Look also for a blog post soon on a 1st Day Hike opportunity.

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Standing near the top of the largest mound, I suddenly realized that the heavy rains of the last few days had done us a huge favor. The shallow ridges constructed in concentric arcs oriented toward the mound were made visible because the lower areas between them held several inches of standing water. The people lived on these shallow ridges.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)`