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December 15th, 2021

"Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”

— Paul Theroux--

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Upcoming Events

Volunteer Opportunities

Stories to Share

Advanced Training

Member Spotlight


Important information on the latest in CAMN.

CAMN Chapter Meeting

There is no chapter meeting in December.  Enjoy the holidays and we will meet up again on January 26, 2022.

Don't forget to log your recent volunteer and advanced training hours as soon as possible to close out 2021.  We know that volunteering options have been limited the last two years and that has made re-certifying a challenge. Reaching the 40 hours of service and 8 hours of advanced training in a year gives you the right to use "certified" in your credentials as a master naturalist, but remember, once a master naturalist, always a master naturalist.  Logging as little as one hour into VMS in any given year keeps your profile active.  If your profile is inactivated, reactivation requires only an email to

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CAMN Committees

Read the latest work being done for the chapter!

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee has been developing a land acknowledgement statement for CAMN. A land acknowledgement is “a statement that recognizes the history and presence of Indigenous peoples and their enduring relationship to their traditional homelands.” Land Acknowledgement Statements are becoming more common in organizations, especially universities. UT published theirs in October of last year. There is no set template, but the statements are regionally specific and most include tangible actions to support local indigenous communities.  CAMN’s Land Acknowledgement Statement is still in draft form but we anticipate presenting it to the Board soon.  When it is approved by the Board we will share it with members who may consider using it at CAMN events and meetings.

As one of the longest continuously humanly inhabited places in the Americas, many indigenous communities have called Central Texas home but the two most prominent are the Caddo and the Tonkawa.  The Caddo people, who once extended as far west as the Balcones Escarpment, had a society characterized by robust agriculture, settlements, and skilled artisans. They have been particularly recognized for their pottery. The Tonkawa, who previously lived throughout the Edwards Plateau, at one time had a more nomadic existence, hunting buffalo. Both cultures traditionally practiced fire ecology when stewarding the land.

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Stories to Share

A closer look at the people and opportunities connected to CAMN

From Existential Dread to Raptor Rehab


It was during my late 20’s when I decided to get involved in something that didn’t include the spreadsheets, office culture and existential dread of my mortgage job.  I started volunteering twice a month at the Austin Zoo and before I knew it, I was also working shifts at the Austin Nature and Science Center and Austin Wildlife Rescue.  As many involved with wildlife care will tell you, there is eventually a group you become most interested in and for me, it was the birds.


I eventually wanted to take a more active role.  I emailed raptor rehabilitators from a list I found through Texas Parks and Wildlife.  After checking references to make sure I wasn’t a lunatic, Stephanie Boyd contacted me and offered to get me started. Stephanie, Sallie Delahoussaye and Ed Sones not only rehabilitate injured wildlife, they also conduct educational programs for schools, youth groups, state parks and conservation groups with non-releasable education birds.  Between the three of them, I don’t have any difficulty finding volunteer opportunities.


Most of my volunteering involves feeding the birds and cleaning the enclosures.  I also spend time taking the education birds for walks; this keeps them used to being dressed in various falconry equipment we use for programs, builds their level of comfort with me and is a great form of enrichment.  Other duties include the actual bird talks, keeping talons and beaks trimmed and checking the birds for any changes in behavior or health.  I’ve also had the chance to assist in a few avian surgeries with Dr. Susan Skylar, who addresses the health needs of the birds I work with and frequently assists Austin Wildlife Rescue with animals.


The most fascinating aspect of my volunteering journey (besides being friends with a hawk) has been the wide range of experiences I’ve had as someone without a biology degree or previous experience. It's amazing what doors can be opened with dedicated volunteering experience and just asking the right people, the right questions.  Stephanie, Sallie, Ed and Susan have all been great mentors to me and I am grateful for the time I’ve spent with them.  I also am thankful for Jules Maron and Hayley Hudnall with Austin Wildlife Rescue, for their continued guidance and the work they do.

By Ross Livengood, CAMN Class of 2020

Editorial note:  Ross, we need to hear more about your hawk friend!

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Upcoming Events

Volunteer. Learn. Connect.

COVID Precautions in Austin/Travis County:  Stage Three

Some volunteer opportunities in our community are opening back up.  

Here are documents of regularly scheduled events, some of which have resumed.  Always check with a partner agency for latest information and COVID prevention requirements.
  • Calendar of volunteer and training opportunities.
  • List of volunteer opportunities
  • List of advanced 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.


Wildlands Conservation Division

There are volunteer opportunities with the WCD through the end of December. Join other volunteers in removing invasive species in Long Canyon, restoring the forests of JJ&T and the Vireo Preserve and seed harvesting on the WQPL. 

To see the schedule and sign up for events, click here.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management

Cornell FeederWatch
November 13th, 2021 - April 30th, 2022

Join the project at anytime to submit data that you collect at a site of your choosing, which can be your own yard.  Collect data on two consecutive days as often as once a week to as little as one observation.  

Find instructions on how to participate here.  
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

Central Texas Christmas Bird Counts
December 14th - January 5th

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running citizen science wildlife census in the world. Administered by the National Audubon Society, the data collected by CBC participants for over a century is one of the largest resources informing ornithologists and conservation biologists about how the birds of the Americas are faring over time.

Central Texas Birders, both novice and expert, are invited to participate in Christmas Bird Counts and to contribute important data by joining a local CBC circle.  Participants will follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle for a day, counting every bird they see or hear.

Here are the dates of some nearby CBC circles with contact information for more information or to join:

  • Georgetown-Andice CBC around Lake Georgetown and Berry Springs Park, December 16th, 2021.  Contact Ed Rozenburg.
  • Austin CBC, December 18th, 2021 at McKinney Falls State Park.  Contact:  Tyler Miloy
  • San Marcos CBC, December 19th, 2021.  Contact:  Rebekah Rylander
  • Round Rock, December 26th, 2021.  Contact:  Andrew Dickinson 
  • Bastrop-Buescher State Park CBC, January 1st, 2022.  Contact:  Sheila Hargis 
  • Burnet County CBC in and around Lake Buchanan and Inks Lake, January 3rd, 2022.  Contact:  Kay Zagst  
Visit the Houston Audubon Texas Christmas Bird Count page to find CBC that will be conducted in other parts of Texas.  Participation in any CBC within the state of Texas earns volunteer hours.
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

The Trail Foundation
Friday, December 17th | 9:00 a.m - 12:00 p.m
Saturday, December 18th | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Help the Trail Foundation with mulching, seeding, seed collection, invasive plant species removal, and a variety of other ecological activities. 

Register for one or both events.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management

Invasive Species Removal at BFL
Saturday, December 18th  | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.\

Wear work clothes appropriate for the weather and closed-toe shoes.  Bring water.  We have gloves, hand tools, and weed wrenches but feel free to bring your own favorite tools.  We will maintain social distance.

This event will occur each third Saturday of the month.  Register in advance.  If you have questions please email John Barr or call him at 512-469-0121.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management BFL

Plant Survey at Brackenridge Field Lab
Sunday, December 19th | 9:30a.m  - 12:00p.m

Meet in the parking lot of BFL at 2907 Lake Austin Boulevard a bit before 9:30. We will walk about 2 to 2.5 miles over both paved and unpaved trails to see how target plant species are responding to current seasonal influences.  Bring water and dress for the weather, closed-toe shoes and long pants are recommended. For more information, email Sharon Lynch.
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

Bird Survey at Brackenridge Field Lab
Wednesday, December 29th | 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Need additional CAMN volunteer hours? Interested in seeing birds and/or visiting the Brackenridge Field Lab property? Come join the final bird survey of 2021 at Brackenridge Field Lab!  Bring binoculars, water and dress for the weather (including long pants and closed-toed shoes). Contact Cheryl McGrath at (512)636-5835 or with questions.
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

Hornsby Bend Bird Survey
Saturday, January 8th, 2022  |  7:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Hosted by the Travis Audubon Society.  Teams will divide up to survey birds in three different sections of Hornsby Bend.  No registration is required, just gather in the parking lot of the Center for Environmental Research at 2210 S FM 973 a little before 7:00 a.m.  
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

Blair Woods Workday
Every Wednesday  | 8:00 - 10:00 a.m

Help us to restore Blair Woods, the Travis Audubon sanctuary located in east Austin. Volunteer work will include removing invasives, mulching trails, maintaining the pollinator garden, etc. This is small group work, most volunteers work autonomously after orientation to maintain distancing as part of Austin-Travis County COVID precautions. No registration is required for volunteers who have been oriented and currently helping at Blair. If this will be your first time volunteering at Blair Woods, please email Mark Wilson or call 512-497-0744 or email Flo Rice or call 512-415-9068 so we can coordinate a brief orientation.
VMS Category:  RM: Resource Management or NPA: Nature/Public Access

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Wild Neighbors Speakers Series
Friday, December 18th | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Join Texas Nature Trackers Biologist Craig Hensley for a look at who is frequenting our backyards during winter.  Get tips on how to tell one species from another and what you can do to attract them to your yard. Register and bring your backyard bird identification questions.

Commons Ford Bird Walk
Sunday, December 19th | 7:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Hosted by the Travis Audubon Society.  Join Chris Gunter for a bird walk at the restored prairie at Commons Ford Park to watch for year-round residents and migrants. Registration is required and limited to 15 participants.

Wild Weekday:  Brushy Creek Regional Trail
Wednesday, December 22nd | 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Hosted by Travis Audubon Society.  Join Celeste Treadway and Suzie McCann to bird a beautiful section of the Brushy Creek Regional Trail to look for winter birds, including various sparrows, raptors, and winter warblers.  Registration is required and is limited to ten participants.

TXMN Video Series

Are you short an hour or few of advanced training?  The TXMN Program has allowed viewing of pre-recorded videos produced by them to count for advanced training.  Check out the offerings at #TMNTuedsays.

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Member Spotlight

Get to know a fellow naturalist.

Meet CAMN Member Sharon Lynch

What year and with which chapter did you train to be a master naturalist?

I trained with the Capital Area Chapter in the class of 2019.

What is your favorite or most frequent volunteer activity with CAMN?

I really enjoy removing invasive species--it is rewarding to spend a few hours of hard work in a discrete area and be able to step back and see the immediate difference.  Though one cannot help but ask the question about ecological restoration:  what are we restoring it to?   I also enjoy doing plant surveys but most of my volunteer hours are earned working on this newsletter.  Let me know if you want to help!

What would you say is your focus as a naturalist?

I am a generalist--mostly because there is so much to learn about so many things and they all fascinate me.  But I am especially drawn to plants and riparian ecologies.

What are your interests outside of CAMN?

I spent my working years as a nurse in the community health clinics in Austin. There we understood the social determinants of health and the effects of toxic stress on individuals and communities and that is a growing field of knowledge that continues to fascinate me.  We know that nature and natural settings are a powerful tonic for the human body and spirit but they often are just inaccessible to marginalized communities--for many reasons.  I was particularly drawn to an organization like CAMN as it has the potential to remedy that.  I also like taking photos of beautiful things and trying to attract more diversity to my tiny urban yard.

How can other members contact you?

My e-mail address is

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