As most of you are aware, this year in April/May the annual Native Plants & Prairies Day morphed into Native Prairie Walks in Dallas County under the leadership of Jim Folger and Whitney Wolf. The 27 discovery walks, held from April 3 until May 12, were generally scheduled for an hour, and offered opportunities to learn from local experts about plants, prairies, birds, insects, frogs, creatures of the night, the ecological wonders of Flagpole Hill, and edible, medicinal and useful plants. The walks were held in a wide variety of locations, offering people opportunities to participate in locations close to home. Notable locations included Frankford Prairie, Dogwood Canyon, the Bath House and Norbuck Park near White Rock Lake, Spring Creek Forest Preserve, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Harry S. Moss Park, the Great Trinity Forest and Twelve Hills Nature Center. If you want to see the line-up of walks and our terrific experts, please go here: http://public.ntmn.org/2018-native-prairie-walks
About 400 people attended these walks, despite some very chilly and rainy days at the beginning of April. An analysis of the participants’ zip codes revealed that 42% traveled 0-10 miles to get there, 28% traveled 11-20 miles and 30% – 21 miles+. Of those attending, 15% were children. Additionally, there were another 73 kids who discovered the White Rock Prairie (57 from Dallas Academy, and 16 from St. John’s Episcopal School) on three other walks led by our experts. Sixty-one NTMNs, or 18% of the total, also took advantage of the opportunity to earn some AT hours.
Among the three discovery walks with the largest attendance were the “Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants” walk led by Bob Richie at Cedar Ridge Preserve (73 people); “Creatures of the Night” led by Tim Brys, John Watts, Tiffany Lipsett, and Jonathan Garcia at Dogwood Canyon (50 people); and “Prairie Wildflowers” led by Dana Wilson at Spring Forest Preserve (47 people).
We could not have successfully accomplished the walk schedule without the Walk Captains who volunteered to work with each of the expert walk leaders and coordinated the support of chapter members who volunteered to assist on each walk. Very special thanks go out to our Walk Captains: Connie Koval, Tabatha Knickerbocker, Teresa Grafton, Anne Weis, and Leigh Ann Ellis, who stepped out of her role as President of the Blackland Chapter of the Native Prairie Association to work with us. We also want to thank the other members of the very small planning committee who made this such a success: Andie Comini, Belinda Elmgren, Carrie Robinson, Ginger Greatens, and Alyson Watson.
In addition to our chapter website, Facebook page, an article in the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, and flyers distributed to libraries and many public events, for the first time we used Meet Up to publicize our walks. Over 375 people joined our Native Prairie Walks Meet Up to learn about the walk opportunities. We think this shows that there is public interest in regularly scheduled nature walks led by experts. We plan to keep in touch with this new group of outdoor lovers with plans for other opportunities for nature education.
The Chapter is entertaining the idea having a year-round “Walks and Talks” plan that could accommodate walk leaders whenever they wanted to become engaged. We have reached this conclusion based on what some of the walk leaders had to say about this group of Native Prairie Walks events.
David Parrish: “I was happy to help. It was a good experience. I’d be glad to help out on future walks. I think, public walks through out the year and throughout the Dallas are a great idea.”
Dana Wilson: “Terrific job. As a walk leader, I did 0% of the work and felt 110% supported from beginning to end.”
Bruce Ballengee: “From my perspective, you all did a marvelous job organizing these walks and I don’t have any suggestions. I’d be happy to lead walks at DCAC and CRP in the future.”
Carol Clark: “I think more public walks is always a good idea, and I am willing to lead some more.”
Roger Sanderson: “I think more walks is a great idea and I’m quite willing to lead more.”
Linda Pelon: “I will be glad to assist with some tours that include understanding cultural resources and historic landscapes. Glad you are considering increasing your important work in raising public awareness and appreciation of our priceless natural resources!”
John Snowden: “I’d be fine leading walks from mid September to about 1 May. “
Jim Folger & Whitney Wolf