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March 15th, 2022
 
 

"The deep roots never doubt spring will come."
--Marty Rubin--

 

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Help Needed


Upcoming Events


Volunteer Opportunities

Stories to Share


Advanced Training


Member Spotlight

Announcements

Important information on the latest in CAMN.

 
CAMN Chapter Meeting
Wednesday, March 23rd | 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Austin Nature and Science Center, 2389 Stratford Drive

This will be a hybrid meeting.  Meet in person at the ANSC or join via Zoom

Join other CAMN members to catch up on the latest chapter news and for a presentation by Eric Knight:  the Edible Wild Plants of the Texas Hill County. Eric is a forager and environmental educator based in his hometown of Austin, TX. He leads edible plant walks for several entities including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Earth Native Wilderness School, and Local Leaf, LLC (which he runs with his wife and co-author). He has foraged, botanized, and explored throughout Texas and is an obsessive naturalist with a special interest in the plant world. He also studies the edible and non-edible plant life wherever his travels take him and loves making botanical, edible, or medicinal connections between plants local and abroad. Eric studied water resources and environmental engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and is a licensed Professional Engineer and environmental specialist.

The presentation earns one hour of advanced training.  


CAMN Annual Awards Banquet

Save the date!  The annual banquet is on Sunday, April 3rd from 1:00 - 4:00p.m. at the LCRA Red Bud Center at 3601 Lake Austin Blvd. Join your fellow Capital Area Master Naturalists for good food, fun times, recognition pins, awards and a special speaker.  Please RSVP.


We Are Having a Silent Auction!
 

Help support CAMN’s education, outreach and project efforts by contributing to our silent auction! Do you have a favorite business you frequent often (coffee, restaurant, bookstore, salon, etc.)?  Do you think they might donate a gift card or item to our silent auction? Just ask! Most businesses would be happy to help support CAMN and its mission.   

You can also help support CAMN by bringing your own new or like-new items and filling out a bid sheet. Popular items at past auctions have been plants, gardening supplies, jewelry, wine, books, artwork, bags/totes, decorative household items, private hikes/field trips, etc. Don’t see it mentioned here, bring it!  If you liked it, chances are one of your fellow CAMN members will, too. Winners may make payments (check/cards preferred) and collect their items at the end of the banquet. All proceeds go towards Education & Outreach and Project committees!  

For questions email Lori Malloy

DEI Committee

If you’re interested in sharing, contributing, or just learning about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work in our chapter, we invite you to join us in our monthly DEI meeting. Please email diversity chair@camn.org for more information!

Scroll to the Member's Spotlight section to learn more about the members who co-chair the DEI Committee and their vision for a more diverse and inclusive CAMN.


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Help Needed

Special requests for assistance!


Hikes Guides for a Special Event
Saturday, March 26th 

The Phoenix leads fun and active outdoor activities for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  On Saturday, March 26th, The Phoenix will host an event in honor of Women’s History Month.  The event, called Wanderous Women in Recovery is free and they are expecting approximately 30 women. 

They would like CAMN members to lead interpretive hikes at McKinney Falls State Park.  There will be two hikes, each about one and a half hours long and each with a group of about 15 participants.  The first hike will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the second will begin at 1:15 p.m.

If you can help, please contact Melissa Rios or Emily Hansen of the Austin Nature and Science Center by March 18th.

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Stories to Share

A closer look at the people and opportunities connected to CAMN

Seeding the Water Quality Protection Lands

The Austin Water Wildlands Conservation Division, well-known and beloved by many CAMN members, manages tens of thousands of acres of preserves in and around Austin through two programs.  The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system primarily conserves habitat for endangered species and the Water Quality Protection Lands conserves lands through ecological restoration with the goal of providing the best quality and quantity of water to areas of the Edwards aquifer and its springs.

The WQPL needs volunteers now to seed its preserves.  Senior WQPL Biologist Devin Grobert shares with us an article he wrote on the importance of seed dispersal to restoration of biodiversity:

"The loss of biodiversity is a global issue that threatens the natural systems upon which we rely. Newsworthy environmental problems such as this often seem too big or abstract to engage with, and for good reason. We might not read mundane news stories about small, manageable problems, like “Local restaurant alleged stingy with salt” or “Sit-ups: unpleasant.” But in fact, daunting environmental problems sometimes unfold locally, and may respond to accessible solutions.

For those of us interested in reversing biodiversity loss, we must understand what drives this loss. In the iconic oak savannas of the Edwards Plateau, historic overgrazing, fire suppression, introduced invasive grasses, and woody plant encroachment have all contributed to declining biodiversity. These problems are a century in the making and affect a large area. 

So then, how do we approach the problem of biodiversity loss in these local ecosystems?

One factor that can have a major impact on the diversity of plant communities is dispersal limitation, or the limited ability of plants to spread their seeds into habitats where they could flourish. The species that occur on any given site are a subset of all the species that exist in the region. Dispersal is a key process that determines which plant species are present at a site. Habitat fragmentation from roads, developments, and other human-caused land cover changes, as well as loss of native herbivores like bison, have truncated natural dispersal mechanisms. At the same time, livestock overgrazing, woody encroachment, land cover change and invasive grasses have reduced native plant cover and diversity, and therefore potential seed sources.

What’s the good news, you ask?  Unlike in the extensively plowed former prairies to the east, and thanks in part to the rocky soils of the Hill Country, harvestable stands of diverse native flora are still out there, and we can move the seeds to the sites that need them the most with our own hands. In fact, it’s a fun way to get out and enjoy the land with others.

Countless examples from ecosystem restoration projects in Central Texas demonstrate that when we augment natural seed dispersal by adding seed from underrepresented species (those thought to have been more common in the past), their populations will gradually increase, ultimately improving the diversity and functioning of the ecosystem. These success stories suggest that dispersal is a key process for the recovery of degraded ecological communities in Edwards Plateau grasslands.

In a form of assisted dispersal on the Water Quality Protection Lands (WQPL) south of Austin, volunteers have been combatting biodiversity loss by applying high-diversity seed mixes to patches of bare soil following disturbances, such as prescribed burns and woody plant thinning projects. Targeting these patches improves the effectiveness of seeding efforts compared to seeding into established stands. Volunteers from the community also monitor high-quality remnant grasslands for seed ripeness and collect judiciously to avoid damaging source populations.
 


Nature seems to like solutions that solve more than one problem at a time, such as how deep roots can buffer plants from drought stress, but also store carbohydrates to support recovery from fire or herbivory.  In a similar way, community-supported ecosystem restoration has the potential to help us thrive in more ways than one. It offers the opportunity to exercise, spend time in nature, contribute positively and actively to the betterment of the human and natural communities that we live in, and to see beyond cultural divisions and join others in the pursuit of a common goal. You are cordially invited to join us for a volunteer restoration event and see for yourself."

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Upcoming Events

Volunteer. Learn. Connect.

COVID Precautions in Austin/Travis County:  Stage Two 

Restrictions are eased and we are getting back out there!  Do follow the recommendations of the sponsoring agency regarding masks and social distancing.

The calendar of events has been updated with regularly scheduled, recurring volunteer service (VS) and advanced training (AT) opportunities.  Click on an event to learn more about it including the location, duration, what to expect and how to sign up.  If you know of a regularly scheduled event that we missed, please let us know about it at reader@camn.org
  • Calendar of volunteer and training opportunities.
  • List of pre-approved CAMN partners and projects.  Activities hosted by a pre-approved partner do not require individual pre-approval if the activity supports the mission of the TXMN program.

 


VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
 


Native Grass Seeding
Thursday, March 17th | 9:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 30th | 9:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Assist the Pease Park Conservancy in planting native grass seeds in the park to either replace invasive species that have been removed or to fortify existing seeded areas.  Tools and gloves will be provided. Please bring your own water bottle and wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.

Click your preferred date(s) above to be taken to the event registration page.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management

Invasive Species Removal at Brackenridge Field Lab
Saturday, March 19th | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Ligustrum and Nandina abound at BFL and we are making a dent in it.  We have tools and gloves.  You bring water.  Meet up in the parking lot at 2907 Lake Austin Blvd. a bit before 9:00 a.m. to do battle.

Bird Surveys at Brackenridge Field Lab
Saturday, March 26th | 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, April 3rd | 7:30 - 9:30a.m.

Trees are budding and the birds are singing at BFL, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, 78703. Bring binoculars and water and dress for the weather. Closed-toe shoes are essential. Email Cheryl McGrath or call her at (512) 636-5835 if you'd like to join. 
VMS category FR: Brackenridge Field Lab
 

Plirding at Blair Woods
Saturday, March 26th | 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Plirding, also called birding with a purpose, is the act of picking up litter while birding. This event will be held every other month at the Travis Audubon Society's Blair Woods Sanctuary.

Clean-up materials, including gloves and bags, will be provided.  Bring water and bug-spray and wear closed-toed shoes and long pants.  

Registration is required.
VMS Category:  Resource Management

Invasive Species Removal on Stenis Track
Sunday, March 27th | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

If you hate invasive species like Ligustrum and Nandina as much as we do, join the Bull Creek Foundation for an invasive species workday at the Stenis Tract.  We'll be girdling, weed-wrenching and mapping invasive species locations.

Register.  Contact David Cook for more information or questions.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management

Plant Surveys at Brackenridge Field Lab
Sunday, March 27th | 9:30 a.m - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 10th | 9:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

Walk about 2 miles along both paved and unpaved routes to observe seasonal growth patterns of target plant species.  This data contributes to a longitudinal study of plant responses to weather and climate change.

Meet in the parking lot at 2907 Lake Austin Blvd. a bit before 9:30 a.m.

Circle Acres Preserve Workdays
Monday, March 28th | 9:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Owned by Ecology Action, Circle Acres Preserve is located within Roy G. Guerrero Park. This 10-acre preserve has been reclaimed from a former landfill and provides accessible "wild" outdoor space to the surrounding community.  Volunteer activities includes invasive species removal, introduction of native species, trail maintenance and work in the native plant greenhouse. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Grove Blvd. near the ball fields and across from the entrance to the preserve.

This CAMN workday will repeat on the second and fourth Monday of each month.  Register for more information.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management 

Blunn Creek Preserve Workdays
Saturday, April 2nd | 8:30a.m. - 12:00p.m.

The workdays on the first Saturday of each month at Blunn Creek are back!  Work includes removal of invasive species, introducing native plants and trail maintenance on this 40-acre preserve.  

Meet at the southwest corner of the preserve (about 1200 St. Edwards Drive.) Contact Max Woodfin for more information.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management

FeederWatch
Runs through April 30, 2022

Join this decades long citizen-science project to help monitor the distribution and abundance of winter bird populations.  The data may be collected in your own yard or another site of your choice.  For more information and to join, click here.
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research
 

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ADVANCED TRAINING



Women in Raptor Conservation
Wednesday, March 16th | 5:00 -  6:00 p.m.

To celebrate Women's History Month, HalkWatch International is hosting a panel highlighting women in raptor conservation. The panel discussion is led by Dr. Jordan Herman, HWI’s Conservation Biologist, with guest speakers Dr. Julie Heath of Boise State University, Jamie Dawson of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and Dr. Karen Steenhof retired from the USGS. The panel will discuss subjects such as their contributions to raptor conservation, the future of the raptor field, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Register to attend the free virtual discussion.

Austin's Amazing Purple Martins
Tuesday, March 22nd | 7:45 - 8:45 p.m.

This virtual event is hosted by the Prairie and Timbers Audubon Society.  The speaker is Sheila Hargis, a member of the CAMN Class of 2022.

Email Merrick Darley to obtain the link to the meeting. 

What's That?  Plant ID for Everyone
Wednesday, March 30th | 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Part of the Plant Party webinar series which is a collaboration between the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

These quarterly Plant Party webinars provide advanced training on the flora of Texas.  Register.

Native Landscape Certification Program
Saturday, April 2nd | 8:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

Level-one NLCP, offered in Austin.  Learn about the benefits of native plants, desirable plants for our area and design considerations for local landscapes. NLCP is a state-wide program, but classes focus on the characteristics and plants in the region in which they are taught.

This hybrid class includes a Zoom presentation and an in-person plant walk. The content is specific to the greater-Austin area.  Fees are $45.  For more information, a class schedule and a link to register, click here.

Lunchtime Lecture Series 
Tuesday April 12th | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

The Center for Environmental Research Lunchtime Lectures with Kevin Anderson, PhD, are back!  Once a month, join Dr. Anderson for a presentation and Q&A on a topic in a year-long, themed series related to the natural world and man's place in it.  This year's theme is Ecological Imperialism and the Geography of Nature.

The lectures are on the second Tuesday of each month at the Hornsby Bend CER.  The lectures are free and are also held in two other locations each month.

For more information about the series and other dates and locations click here.

Science Under the Stars:  Plant Identification for Everybody
Thursday, April 14th | 7:00 - 7:45 p.m.

This family-friendly event is held on the second Thursday of each month.  It begins at 6:00 p.m. with a hike and experiential learning opportunities for youth and at 7:00 p.m. there is a Hot Science - Cool Topics presentation by graduate students.  

Visit the SUTS Facebook page or website for a link to the presentation or attend in person at the Brackenridge Field Lab located at 2907 Lake Austin Blvd.

Land, Water and Wildlife Expeditions:  Mentor Training
April 30th - May 1st | 8:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.
Kyle, Texas

Offered by the Texas Wildlife Association, mentors will be trained to promote and facilitate a new program designed to engage youth ages 11-17 and a parent/guardian on 1-to-3-days outdoor experiences.

Each expedition will be centered around a different theme such as ornithology and birding, water ecology and angler education, photography in nature, and more. These experiences will be facilitated by a group of trained mentors, volunteers, and natural resource experts to introduce participants to the outdoors and the world of conservation and land stewardship.  The target audience are those who have very limited to no experience in the outdoors, and those who lack access to green space. 

The cost is $35 which includes training materials and meals.  For more information contact Chad Timmons, Conservation Education Specialist with Texas Wildlife Association.

#TMNTuesdays
The second Tuesday of each month | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Earn an hour of advanced training by viewing a video, either live or recorded.  Each month is a new topic relevant to the TMN Program.  For more information, visit the TXMN website.

Note that viewing videos from 2021 do not count as advanced training for 2022.


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Member Spotlight

Get to know a fellow naturalist.


Meet the Co-Chairs of the CAMN Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee:  Jazmine McGill and Kat Ross
 


Hello, my name is Jazmine McGill and I am new to CAMN. I am a class representative for the class of 2022, a member of the Admissions Committee, and I am very excited to co-chair the DEI Committee.

I am a person who grew up in a rough area of Dallas. In the summers and winters, my family and I would go to the Hill Country to visit relatives. As a young kid I would wake myself up at 6:00AM to help take the dogs on walks in the hills. I loved seeing the hummingbirds, blue jays, butterflies, scrub jays, lightning bugs, and the deer. I spent most of my time there sitting on the back porch looking out on the valley, or out in the hills exploring by myself. I loved it most when it would storm. The enchanting love that I grew for nature at that time has ended up being integral to my development, spirituality, and personal healing. I am a firm believer in the calming and curative effects of nature on traumatized individuals and I hope to become a proponent of inclusivity and cultural competency in natural spaces as well as increasing underserved youths' access to nature and natural sciences. 

Within our organization there is a lot of foundational work to be done in the DEI sphere. In order for CAMN to become a diverse organization it has to be a place where people with different identities feel acknowledged, accepted, heard, and respected.  As things stand, there is not a unified approach or established purpose for the DEI committee. It is my hope that with careful consideration, and over time, we can agree on a unified approach to DEI for our chapter, do authentic and meaningful work to establish a culture of inclusivity, compassion, and curiosity, and become an example of inclusion for other chapters that share this struggle within their organizations.

 

Hello, fellow CAMNers!  I'm Kat Ross, Class of 2017.  I recently joined CAMN’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and am currently serving as Co-Chair. Ever since I joined this Committee, I’ve thought a lot about my time volunteering with different organizations over the years - the people I’ve met and volunteered with and the places I’ve been. Unfortunately, I’ve had to acknowledge that it’s a mostly homogeneous group; and over the past couple of years many organizations have had to confront similar realities.

The Texas Master Naturalist program has taken the first steps in recognizing and acknowledging that there is an obvious lack of representation across many chapters. And in an effort to explore diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities within our natural resource and conservation communities, the “Be The Change” mini-series was initiated last year.

As a person with hearing loss and other physical disabilities, I am well aware that not everyone in our community has equal access to outdoor spaces. The barriers and factors that contribute to access to nature are broad and varied, and I encourage my fellow CAMNers to consider this when they volunteer.  I believe that gaining a better understanding of these factors will help CAMN not only reach and establish a presence in underserved communities, but also build a stronger membership base that reflects the diversity of our Capital Area.


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