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


Plan C.. or D?

So I’ve lost track of what plan we are on for the start-up of cycle two of our Master Naturalist Certification workshops! Whatever. Here’s the newest iteration:

May 25 – Basic Plant Identification with Dr. Charles Allen

Dr. Allen is awfully busy for a retired person (Hmmm, sounds familiar!), and he is willing to adjust his plans to do a workshop with us Saturday, May 25. Several people responded that they were okay with that date, so we’re going for it.

Regarding location, we will very likely follow the plan that was set for today (May 4). However, I will be monitoring water levels at the ULM Biological Station, Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia. Should this infernal weather give us a break and the water level drop, we’ll move it.

June 1 – Bugs with Dr. Natalie Clay

The power is back on in Ruston! At this time, I am assuming our bugs workshop with Dr. Clay will go forward as planned, with classroom work at LaTech and field work at the LaTech Arboretum.

Re payment: If you have paid for a workshop that has been cancelled or rescheduled, please know that you have credit. If anyone wants their money refunded to them, please just let me know. Otherwise, I will use it for the next workshop you are able to attend.

Now for a couple of visual treats, a plant and a bug…I think! I went to Dr. Allen’s edible plants workshop last Saturday. Here are gems from that experience.

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Spiderwort (Tradescantia reverchonii) – This is the plant of the day from the Allen Acres Facebook page, which I just shared to the LMN-NE Facebook group. Dr. Allen’s post includes a very handy key to differentiating between three common species of Tradescantia.     ©Bette J. Kauffman
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Anyone know what this critter is? We went to Fullerton Lake to dig ground nuts (yummy!) and I saw this. I’m guessing some emerging stage of something yet to be!     ©Bette J. Kauffman

Basic Plant Identification

So… Bugs was to be the first workshop of Round Two, but it had to be rescheduled due to weather. Thus, the honors for kicking off our second cycle of certification workshops goes to a repeat of Basic Plant Identification with Dr. Charles Allen.

Those of you who participated in this one last year know we had a blast, but you are welcome again! I have taken multiple Charles Allen plant workshops over the years and still have a ton of stuff to learn. Moreover, this one will not be an exact repeat. More on that in a minute.

The link to register for Basic Plant Identification is ready for you on the Certification tab of this website, as is the flyer. Those of you who registered for Bugs and left your money in the LMN-NE treasury do NOT NEED TO REGISTER. (I’ll send out an email about that shortly.)

If you did not register for Bugs, please register for Basic Plant Identification asap so I know how many copies of Dr. Allen’s handouts to make.

We will again meet at the Chevron station in Georgetown and conduct the “classroom” portion of the workshop under the canopy in the parking lot. For field work, we will caravan to nearby locations in the Kisatchie National Forest. The Chevron station will be home base and pit stop at noon. The staff there is looking forward to our food and/or gas business!

Left: Turquoise Bluet (Enallagma divagans). Right: Oklahoma Clubtail (Phanogomphus oklahomensis).     ©Bette J. Kauffman

Here’s what’s different. Georgetown has ended access to its reservoir. We can’t go there. That made me sad because we saw lots of cool plants there last year, but last Friday I scouted a new area in the Kisatchie about 3 miles down Highway 500 from the Chevron station. We’ll turn north off of Highway 500 onto Forest Service 568 (gravel) and in a few miles, the road crosses a stream and nice, wide trails extend east and west into the forest.

I walked just a short distance down both trails Friday and saw lots of cool stuff worthy of our attention. Indeed, I came home with photos of new dragonfly and damselfly species! Of course, I’m not going to spill the beans on what plants I saw. Come and see!

Right now, the weather forecast for Saturday is “mixed clouds and sun with scattered thunderstorms.” To me that’s a go ahead, but I plan to have a rain poncho in the camera bag! Do check your email and the FB page Friday.