Two Fall Workshops

Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology, Sept. 14, 8:30 – 2:30

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Dr. Joydeep introduces us to our field work in Kiroli Park at our August 2018 workshop.

Once again, Dr. Joydeep Battacharjee of ULM will lead this workshop. We will begin in Kiroli Park, as we did last year, but he is going to look at trail options. Kiroli has several, so we might walk a different trail than we did last year.

The classroom portion of the workshop will again be in West Monroe. I don’t have a space reserved for that yet, but I’m looking.

Over our lunch break, we’ll move to Restoration Park and reconvene in the pavilion at the main entrance, 700 Downing Pines Road, for our afternoon field work.

It can still be pretty hot in September, and that’s why the 8:30 a.m. start. My apologies to those who drive from greater distances.


Fungi, Oct. 26, 9 – 3

Dr. Laura Sims

This is a brand new workshop for us! Our workshop leader will be mycologist, Dr. Laura Sims. So glad that La Tech added a mycologist to its faculty!

We don’t have the details of this one worked out yet, but we will convene at La Tech for classroom work and do field work after lunch as usual.

Suzanne Laird Dartez whetted my appetite for this topic with her excellent certification project presentation last Sunday afternoon, so I am especially delighted that we can offer this workshop.

And that’s a segue to mention that I owe you another blog post – one about those presentations, all three of which were approved by the jury. Suzanne, Kalem Dartez and Susan Hoover have all completed requirements for certification. I’ll get to it asap!

Note: The featured photo at the top of this post is a white-tail deer crossing the water in Restoration Park, West Monroe.



Round Two

Come to Black Bayou Lake NWR this Sunday, August 11, for three more certification project presentations. We begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Education Center.

Like the first three, each of this week’s presentations offers a unique look at an aspect of our interests as naturalists. Here they are in the probable order we will see them:

Fungi project image

Fungi, More Than Just Mushrooms by Suzanne Dartez – Suzanne will discuss fungal biology and ecology in the Southeastern United States, as well as mushroom identification, something I have heard many of us say we need to know more about!

Ecothology image

Welcome to the Northeast Louisiana Ecotheology Forum – by Susan Hoover. This one is all about getting us talking about an ecotheological ethic that we can take back to our respective religious or social organizations, one that we can not only agree upon but act on. Wow! Fascinating.

Stormwater runoff image

Urban Ecology and its Effects on Water Run Off – by Kalem Dartez. Did you ever wonder where all that water goes when the skies open and we get a Louisiana deluge? Kalem is going to explain how it works and the consequences. What a startling image!

I’m not going to promise that we’ll be done in an hour. That didn’t work out too well last time! But, hey, there were no complaints then and I don’t expect any now, as these are fascinating topics. But if at the end of the presentations you’re up for a walk in the Refuge, I’m game!

The jury for this set of presentations will be Nova Clarke, Bette J. Kauffman and a third person to be named. I’m working on it! Hope to see you there, and feel free to invite interested friends and family.


And that’s good news! Congratulations to Bette Kauffman, Charles Paxton, and Kim Paxton. The certification projects they presented Sunday afternoon, July 11, were judged good to go. Each of us got valuable feedback, so here’s a few details.

Kim Paxton lead off the presentations with “Healing Nature.” She cited research that documents the health benefits of time spent in the woods, and presented quotes and points from those studies on an attractive trifold display. Moreover, she mentioned science that documents the negative consequences of “nature deprivation.”

We have already decided…, Ok, truth: I decided her work needs to be turned into a public service brochure that we can hand out. Kim and Charles have produced a draft. Here’s a screen capture of the outside of the brochure.

Kim's project brochure

Kim’s project trifold remains on display at Black Bayou Lake Education Center, so if you’re out that way, stop and have a look.

Bette Kauffman went second and is, first of all, very grateful that people tolerated her Power Point presentation that went longer than it was supposed to! That was, in part, because the nature of the project expanded a bit from its inception. In looking into the natural history of Camp Hardtner, she found an important connection to the larger history of the lumber boom at the turn of the 20th Century in Louisiana, and the resulting devastation of our forests.

So the project is now titled “Camp Hardtner: 100+ Years of Restoration,” and that’s a bigger story than this post can handle! She is still working on getting Camp Hardtner into the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, and to that end, she and LDWF agent Chris Doffitt have tentatively identified three “natural communities” at Camp Hardtner.

CH Natural Coms slide

Each of these areas exhibits characteristics and has species identified with it. The “Glade” especially caught the attention of Arthur Liles, who has already provided interesting resources that will inform additional work on this project. Is it a “sandstone glade” or a “calcareous prairie”? That’s a really good question that needs to be answered.

For now, work on the project continues and this presentation is available to groups that might be interested in not just Camp Hardtner, but how lumber became a sustainable industry in Louisiana and/or restoration projects in general.

Charles Paxton was the third presenter and his film project an instant hit. “Why join Louisiana Master Naturalists Northeast?” is jam-packed with gorgeous, compelling images and solid information, not only about who we are and what, why and where we do what we do, but also about the natural history and current state of Louisiana’s awesome natural resources.


Wait a minute. Is that black bear wearing a fig leaf? Yup! Added by Charles, of course. So there’s a good laugh in the film as well.

Scenes from our first series of certification workshops and our quarterly meetings occur throughout the film, interspersed with Charles’ fabulous wildlife photography. And on the soundtrack near the end, the mating roar of a bull alligator! What an awesome touch!

Charles has a few corrections to make to the film–e.g., names mispelled or wrong–and the audience uniformly called for it to be stretched out a bit to give us a little more time with some of the images. So… what we expect to be in final cut about a 20-minute film will be up on this website for all to watch as soon as Charles can get it finished.

All in all, a grand day! Thank you again to our jury of Nova Clarke, Arthur Liles and Amy Ouchley. And don’t forget the next one! Kalem Dartez and Suzanne Laird Dartez will present their projects in the Education Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR Sunday afternoon, August 11, at 2:30 p.m.

First Ever!

First ever what? Thanks for asking. First ever presentations of final certification projects by members of Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast. How exciting is that?!

So mark your calendars: July 14, 2019, 2:30 p.m. at Black Bayou Lake NWR. Come and see what your peers have done and bring friends who might be interested in what we do. This event is open to all.*

Here’s what you will see, probably in this order:

Healing Nature Ad copy

Healing Nature by Kim Paxton – Kim turned to this topic because she is a caregiver. Her presentation will include a tri-fold display and a short talk. I am so looking forward to this. I have long believed that the world would be a better place if more people took to the woods more often.


Camp Hardtner & the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program by Bette J. Kauffman – This presentation will be a PowerPoint with talk of about 20 minutes. The project itself is multi-faceted and ongoing, but the presentation will familiarize you with what goes into putting a property in the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, plus give you a glimpse of the wonders of Camp Hardtner.


Why join the Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast? by Charles Paxton – We all know Charles is the video guy, and he is living up to his calling! This presentation will feature all the wonderful things we’ve been doing and places we’ve been. And we’ll be able to use it as a recruiting tool.

So that’s the line-up. My excitement is matched only by my anxiety at the amount of work I have to do to be ready!

One more thing: As our certification requirements specify, the projects must be evaluated by a committee of three, of which at least one must be a member of our board. I am pleased and thankful that Nova Clarke, board member, Amy Ouchley and Arthur Liles have agreed to be our first “jury.”

I plan to invite our local workshop leaders, although I know that Dr. Joydeep is back in the Himalayas doing research this summer. You are encouraged to invite family and friends. This will be a celebration of who we are and what we have done.

A couple of BTWs: 1. We’ll either be in the Visitor Center or the Education Building at BBL; it might depend on how many people come. 2. After the presentations, weather permitting, those who wish will….    wait for it…                                         go for a hike, of course!

Special note: I do not recommend bringing small children who might have trouble sitting reasonably quietly through three presentations.

Yes to Saturday!

But “no” to June 1. More on that below.

If we survive Monday, which looks a little grim for northern Louisiana, the forecast for Saturday is “sunny,” all day. Dr. Allen is ready and waiting. It looks like we will finally get Workshop 1 of our second cycle in the books.

So… here’s the link to register for Basic Plant Identification this coming Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Register Here

I am going to Camp Hardtner Tuesday and will check out the ULM Biological Station near Columbia that we have been wanting to visit. However, given the amount of rain we have had and how high the water was last time I checked, I am not hopeful.

We will most likely meet Dr. Allen at the gas station in Georgetown for a repeat of last year’s workshop. I will email all who register for the class later this week to let you know for sure.

IMPORTANT: If you have paid for a workshop that had to be postponed due to weather and now want to use that payment for this Saturday’s workshop, please let me know.

Also, Dr. Natalie Clay must postpone. She must travel June 1 and will do research abroad this summer, thus the Bugs workshop must be rescheduled in the fall. Thus if you paid for the Bugs workshop, you might want to use that credit now for Basic Plant Identification.

And, of course, if you do not have credit for a workshop, you can pay online via PayPal at the link above, or email me that you want to pay on site. The flyer on the certification tab of this website is still good except for the date.

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Pale purple coneflowers (Echinacea pallida) dance in the breeze along a roadside in central Arkansas.     ©Bette J. Kauffman