What’s Buggin’ You?

At long last, a certification workshop!

Our instructor for “What’s Buggin’ You?” is Stacy Blomquist, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service. It’s scheduled Saturday, August 29, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. I realize for those of you who drive from a distance, that’s early, but since we will be spending the day outside, we need to get a leg up on the heat–if that’s possible in August in Louisiana!

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Stacy Blomquist being “bugged”!

We will meet in the amphitheatre at Black Bayou Lake NWR for the classroom portion, do a bit of fieldwork right after lunch, and end with Stacy’s Native Bees and Butterflies & Moths PowerPoints in the amphitheatre.

Speaking of heat, if you can bring a box fan, do. That will help us keep air moving, an aid to overcoming both heat and Covid-19. And speaking of that, yes, we will take every precaution. Stacy can’t lecture with a mask on, but we can and will wear ours while seated in the amphitheatre.

Registration for the workshop is open. Click on the “Certification” tab at the top of the page. Here’s the flyer for this workshop that repeats this info, plus provides more detail: Workshop 5 Flyer.

Bring your lupe (magnifier) and bug net, should you have one. Bring a jar or clear plastic container with holes poked in the lid so we can observe the bugs up close and personal. As usual, everyone brings their own food and beverages.

If you registered and paid for the bugs workshop this spring when we had to postpone, or if you have a credit coming for any reason, please remind me in an email. I will check the records and put you on the list. And if you prefer to pay in person rather than online, I will be onsite early for that purpose.

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Looking forward to buggin’ out on bugs!

It’s Time: Phenology

Four weeks ago on my way to the Louisiana Native Plant Society meeting in Woodworth, I grabbed a couple hours to hike at the ULM Biological Station, Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia.

I was anxious to see if the Trillium had popped out of the ground yet, and I was not disappointed. I walked straight to the area where I had found them before in early February, and…. dozens! Lots of Trillium!

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Trillium ludovicianum

The vast majority were just leaves, as expected. A few had buds, tightly closed. One bud had a slim opening down the side such that I caught a glimpse of the dark purpley-red petals inside. And then, surprise! One, just one, in full bloom!

When I say, “That’s early for a Trillium to be in full bloom,” I’m making a phenological statement, albeit a rather vague and unscientific one.

March 14, 2020, Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee of the ULM Biology program will teach us how to make precise scientific ones. As usual, this certification workshop will run from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m. You can register NOW. There’s a PayPal link on the “Certification” tab above, or you can pay on site if you email me in advance. ($25)

Folks, I have good reason to say this is going to be a popular workshop. So please don’t delay. Register or contact me ASAP. If necessary, priority will be given to members who are working toward certification.

Please note, this workshop is tentatively scheduled at Black Bayou Lake NWR. However, I have been delayed by travel and horrendously painful tendonitis in getting certain things done. I will get a flyer with the details in your hands asap, but in the meantime, do not delay. Register!

Basic Field Skills

Registration is now open for the third workshop of our second cycle: Basic Field Skills. This is a required workshop for those who wish to become certified Master Naturalists. If you missed our first offering of it back in March 2018, don’t miss this opportunity.

The workshop is scheduled Saturday, January 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Education Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR. It will include classroom and field work on the Refuge, so come prepared to be outdoors. The cost is $25.

Louisiana Master Naturalists Rendezvous 2018
When we are in the Education Center at the Refuge, it is entirely possible Grumpy the pine snake will make an appearance!     (Photo by Charles Paxton)

For those who took our first offering of this workshop back in 2018, some of the material will be new, as our instructors have continue to develop their own knowledge and skills. However, 1) you may not take the workshop a second time to count toward certification, but 2) you may take it again for continuing education credit.

Our instructors are Amy Ouchley on writing and sketching, Bette Kauffman on photography and iNaturalist, and Nova Clarke on natural history interpretation. Amy has been involved with LMN-NE since it’s beginning and is nearing completion of her Master Naturalist coursework, Bette Kauffman is co-founder and president of LMN-NE and one of our first certified Master Naturalists, and Nova Clark is Ranger at Black Bayou Lake NWR.

Louisiana Master Naturalists Rendezvous 2018
Amy Ouchley teaching at our first version of this workshop.     (Photo by Charles Paxton)

Click on the Certification tab at the top of this web page. There you will find a link to a flyer giving more details on the workshop, a PayPal button to pay for the workshop online (you are automatically registered), and a link to a registration form you can print and mail in with a check if you prefer. You may also make arrangements with Bette Kauffman to pay on site.

Finally, if you have credit due to paying for a workshop that was cancelled, OR if you have completed six workshops and wish to claim this one as your free 7th, let Bette Kauffman know and that will be arranged.

See you the 25th! In the meantime, don’t forget our 1st Quarter Mtg this Sunday, the 19th.

Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology

Time to get back into doing some workshops! Please note that I have put Graduation on the calendar, but this post is all about our Sept. 14 workshop.

Once again, Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee of the ULM Biology faculty, will be our instructor. We will meet at 8:30 a.m. to get a bit ahead of the heat at picnic shelter #1 in Kiroli Park at 820 Kiroli Rd. in West Monroe.

Devil's Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)
The Devil’s Walking Stick trees (Aralia spinosa) in Kiroli Park were fruiting when we were there last summer. I have never seen this before or since.

The exact order of the morning is up to Dr. Joydeep, but he will make his presentation in the picnic shelter (which has power, thankfully) and we will walk one or more trails. We’ll adjourn for lunch at 11:30 and reconvene under the pagoda at the 700 Downing Pines Rd. entrance to Restoration Park.

Picnic shelter #1 at Kiroli is reserved through the lunch period, but picking up food in West Monroe and eating under the pagoda at Restoration Park is equally appropriate. Your choice. After some remarks under the pagoda about Restoration Park, we will walk the trail.

Golden-winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis)
My one and only photo of a Golden-winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis) is from Restoration Park.

Please note that we will be outdoors all day. Most of the trails at both parks are shaded, so we will be in the shade much of the time. Nevertheless, be aware and make sure you keep yourself hydrated. (Those of you who have attended one of Dr. Charles Allen’s workshops know this is doable!)

The Certification tab of this website is ready for you. Click on the “Workshop 2 flyer” link to download a single sheet with the info you need. The “Ecosystems” PayPal “Buy Now” button is ready and has been tested. Go for it!

A few reminders: 1) If you did this workshop during Cycle 1, you may not repeat it for credit toward certification. Nevertheless, you are most welcome to participate. I expect a lot more to “stick” in this old brain than did the first time! 2) If this is your 7th workshop, it’s free. (I will check my records to see who qualifies asap.) And if you have credit for a workshop that was cancelled or that you registered for then weren’t able to attend, please remind me.

Three More to Graduate

At our August 11 gathering we heard three more compelling presentations. As I announced a couple of weeks ago at the end of the blog post about our upcoming workshops, all three were judged certifiable by the jury.

Suzanne Laird Dartez lead off the presentations with “Fungi: More than Just Mushrooms.” Her Power Point was full of information and interesting photographs, most of which she herself had taken.

The roles of fungi in the environment are diverse and critical to environmental health. These roles range from the somewhat obvious one of helping decompose dead vegetation to the mysterious process of plant communication through mycorrhizal networks provided by fungi. In addition, many mushrooms are medicinal and/or nutritious–but knowing which ones are safe to eat is not easy!

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Before Suzanne’s presentation, I might not have noticed this tiny trio of mushrooms growing out of a single leaf, doing the all-important work of decomposition. And who knows what else they might be up to!

Kalem Dartez presented second. His Power Point was entitled “Urban Ecology and Its Effect on Water Run-off.” Here’s one shocking fact I learned: 95% of land area is rural but 80% of the people live in cities. Not surprisingly, those concentrations of people and the hard-surface cityscapes they build to live in contribute to the problem and negative consequences of storm water run-off.

Fortunately, smart people have put their minds to this and “green infrastructure options” are increasingly available. These include “bioswales,” rain gardens, permeable pavement and more. My fave was planter boxes! Yes, putting a planter box outside a window helps, and the city of Pittsburgh has embraced the strategy. Good on them!

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Kalem told us that one of our local gems–Restoration Park–qualifies as a “giant green infrastructure project” because it drains water from a large surrounding area, much of which features roads, parking lots and buildings that contribute to the run-off problem.

For our third presentation, Susan Hoover invited us to indulge in refreshments and socialize while a delightful video montage of images from our year of workshops and meetings played on the screen–as if we were participants in a weekend conference gathering for our first plenary session.

When we were ready to take our seats and focus, she presented us with an agenda for an “Ecotheology Forum,” and proceeded to give an introductory talk that would set the stage for our mission: To discuss the possibility of agreeing on a standardized ecotheological ethic and call to action to take back to our religious and social organizations.

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Not the Garden of Eden, but perhaps this Tiger Swallowtail will put you in mind of it!

My overwhelming thought at the end of Susan’s presentation was, “I want to do the entire weekend conference!” Alas, that will have to wait. But my surprise and favorite thing she explained is that in one of the Genesis accounts of creation, the word “radah” is used, and is interpreted by some people as “dominion” and as permission for humans to dominate and exploit the natural world. But the other account of creation uses the word “‘abad,” which means to serve, to cultivate or to take care of. I can’t wait to teach that to my Middle School Old Testament class!

I am now working on plans for a graduation ceremony on a Sunday afternoon in October. Stay tuned!