Today, I saw the whitest spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) I have ever seen!

Spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Walking our beautiful Black Bayou Lake NWR is one thing we can still do in this trying time. Yes, other people were there but there’s lots of trails and space. We all stayed a respectful distance from each other.

And I start with this spot of beauty because the updates I have for you are disappointing.

Rendezvous 2020 is canceled. In a telephone conference call a few days ago the statewide Louisiana Master Naturalist Association board made the difficult decision. After some online discussion ahead of time, we agreed that postponing it was not feasible, in part because right now, it is impossible to know when it would be safe to bring that many people together.

We could conceivably pick a weekend in September or October, but September is still mighty hot and October puts us just 6 months away from Rendezvous 2021–not enough time to plan for the kind of gathering we have.

So…. Rendezvous 2021 will take place at Camp Hardtner April 9-11, 2021. We plan to keep everything we’ve done and just move it a year out. The silver lining? The board will focus on other organizational needs in the coming year.

Bugs and Mammals Workshops. Our April 11 bugs workshop must be postponed and our April 25 mammals workshop will most likely have to be postponed. All of the credible sources I am reading, the CDC, the Louisiana Department of Health, medical professionals across the country, are predicting that the peak of this pandemic will not pass until early May… and that is IF we follow all the protocols we have been given. It is entirely possible that we will not be cleared to gather in groups until mid-May and some are saying mid-June.

I am in communication with Stacy Blomquist, our bugs wokshop instructor who works for the National Forest Service. As of right now, she has been sent home to work remotely. She does not know when she will be released from that limitation, but it is highly unlikely to be by April 11. She is anxious to reschedule and I will begin working on a date with her next week.

ULM is also closed and Kim Tolson is working from home. She needs graduate students for the workshop she is planning, but they have also been sent home. Current word is the campus will probably NOT reopen this spring. That workshop is still five weeks away, so I will wait a couple of weeks to see how it goes and talk with her about rescheduling.

Friends, I am as disappointed as you about all this, but Covid-19 is dangerous, more dangerous than any flu we have seen. I take consolation that what might feel like an over-reaction is, in fact, saving lives. And so I’ll close with another gift from the Refuge today.

Calligrapher fly (Toxomerus sp., a common genus of hover fly) on spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.).

1st Q Mtg: The Ivory-Bill!

Is the ivory-billed woodpecker gone forever? Matt Courtman says, “No!”

The Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast first quarter 2020 meeting is scheduled Sunday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. in the Black Bayou Lake NWR Education Center. As always we begin with a speaker on a natural history subject. This time it will be Matt, and, yes, he will make a case that the ivory-bill can and will be found alive and well in Louisiana.

Sonny Boy and JJ Kuhn
Sonny Boy and J.J. Kuhn

Matt has been fascinated with the ivory-bill since he was 8 years old. He will inform us about the ivory-bill’s unique place in Louisiana’s natural history and will lay out varies theories about its disappearance.

But the driving force behind all of that will be his hope and determination to find that the ivory-bill has persisted and still lives in Louisiana. So come, join the discussion and find out about Matt’s statewide collaborative effort to find, document and protect the ivory-bill.

McIlhenny specimens
McIlhenny Specimens

Certified LMN-NE members, you can count this as continuing ed. I will have our tracking app up and running by then. At about 3 p.m., we will engage in a brief business meeting, and after that…. the Refuge awaits! Yay!

This program is brought to you by the LMN-NE Quarterly Meeting Planning Committee, Stuart Hodnett, Suzanne Laird-Dartez and Charles Paxton. Please direct your feedback and suggestions for future meetings to them.


Dec. 15: Business + Fun!

The fun will begin at 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at Black Bayou Lake NWR Visitor Center with a Christmas Party. The business is a Board of Directors meeting that will precede the party at 3 p.m.

So let’s talk about FUN first! All LMN-NE members and their families are invited. Please bring holiday finger-foods to share. Suzanne Laird–Dartez will bring a beverage. I might, too, like a couple of bottles of sparkling wine!

If you wish to participate in a gift exchange game, modeled on the “white elephant” or “dirty Santa” games (but featuring nothing dirtier than, perhaps, actual dirt), bring a nature-themed gift in the $15 price range. Nature books, field guides and/or outdoor gear are all viable options. (Participation not required.)

Thanks, Suzanne, for organizing this!

Business: The Board of Directors meeting will begin at 3 p.m. I’ll distribute a tentative agenda to those folks at a later date. For the moment, as I indicated at the last members meeting, we need to be cognizant that our By-Laws require officers to be certified Master Naturalists. That was not possible in the beginning. Now as we move into our third year as an organization and have certified Master Naturalists plus several more soon to be certified, we need to come into compliance with our By-Laws.

Here’s a list of current Board members and officers: Bette Kauffman (Pres & State Board Rep), Stuart Hodnett (VP), Nova Clarke (Secy), Charles Paxton (Treas & State Board Rep), Kimberly Paxton (State Board Rep & State Board Secy), Roselie Overby (Membership Secy), Suzanne Laid-Dartez, Jeff Barnhill, Stephanie Herrmann.

Two serious invitations: First, if you are on the Board and feel you cannot serve in that capacity as the organization grows and requires more of you, please let me know. Second, if you are not on the Board but are interested in becoming more active in the leadership of this developing organization, please let me know.

See you the 15th, at 3 for business and/or at 4 for fun!


Woohoo! The big day is next Sunday. We will graduate six Master Naturalists: Kalem Dartez, Susan Hoover, Bette Kauffman, Suzanne Laird-Dartez, Charles Paxton, Kim Paxton.

Betsy and Sonny Trammell are coming up from the CENLA Chapter to hand us our certificates. Sonny has been on the statewide board longer than I have. When I mentioned at our statewide face-to-face board meeting in September that we would love it if someone who is already a Master Naturalist would come and do this for us, they volunteered immediately and enthusiastically. Thank you, Sonny and Betsy!

We’ll begin in the Visitor Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR at 2:30 p.m. Our graduation ceremony will be short. Please bring finger foods to share. We will have a short business meeting, but will end in time to show off our beautiful Refuge to Betsy and Sonny.

This would be a great time to invite folks who might be interested in Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast.

Kim and Suzanne, please bring t-shirts. Christmas is coming and our t-shirts would make great gifts.



Trash hurts wildlife. Thanks to Charles Paxton for putting together this reminder image.

Our 1st Quarter meeting is this coming Sunday, 2 p.m., at Black Bayou Lake NWR. We’ll walk the trails spotting dragonflies and damselflies for awhile first, then hear Dr. Doug Clarke’s presentation on same in the Visitor Center, followed by our business meeting.

Our next workshop is Saturday the 13th. Working on details NOW! Will get registration up before the weekend.