Beating the odds with Mother Nature by Amy Martin

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Beating the odds with Mother Nature

After an injury with a 2% survival rate, Dallas’ trails helped me heal
by Amy Martin in the Dallas Morning News

A brilliant spring day starts with a guided tour of flowering dogwoods at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. Even in the dim, overcast light, the white bracts of the blossoms pop. Lightning cracks, the sky pours rain, and our hiking group slides back down the path.

After the rain passes, I jump in my Subaru Outback for an afternoon tour of Ellis County bluebonnets. Exiting onto an interstate ramp, I realize it’s the wrong one and flinch. The slight tug on the steering wheel sends me spinning on slick pavement.
You will want to read the rest of the story here.

Dec. 1 Wed. meeting – The Ends of the World, Are We There Yet? with Dan Northcut

The Ends of the World, Are We There Yet?

with Dan Northcut

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – chapter meeting:

6:30 Camera Roll and Socializing, plus Arts & Crafts Fair starting at 6 pm
6:50 Science Fair Presentation 

7:00 Introduction and Announcements
7:20 Featured Presentation
8:45 Adjournment

Join us at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, Building H, Room 125. Campus map. See Covid protocol, below.

  • Bring seasonal cookies. Participate in a trail/energy bar swap; bring your favorite and swap with someone.
  • Shop at arts, crafts, and book tables from NTMN members (starting at 6 pm).
  • Say a special farewell to our Stalin SM.

Or participate via Zoom—register here(If you are attending in person, you don’t need to register for Zoom.)

Earth from Apollo 11, courtesy of NASA.

Life on Earth is perilous. All its flora and fauna, including humans, are minute compared to the planet’s epic forces. Several times in Earth’s history, plate tectonics, ice ages, massive meteorite impacts, and more have wiped out species, even entire families and genera. Dan Northcut, a favorite NTMN curriculum instructor, will present on previous mass extinctions and explore the similarities to our present circumstances, with its unprecedented loss of biodiversity and rate of species extinctions. Are dire changes to food security, air and water quality, human health, and ecology in store? Tune in for a tremendous conclusion to our Survivor speaker theme for 2021!

A native Texan, Dan Northcut has been teaching earth and environmental sciences at his high school alma mater, St. Mark’s School of Texas, since 1987, and is presently the Director of Environmental Studies and teaches AP Environmental Science and earth science. He studied geology at The Colorado College, receiving a bachelor’s degree, and went on to earn his master’s degree at University of Texas at Dallas. When not at work, he’s out learning, exploring, and experiencing the natural world. He certified as a Texas Master Naturalist in 2000 and later served as president of the North Texas chapter. He’s taught several topics for the North Texas Master Naturalist certification classes for the past 20 years.

NTMN Science Fair Winner Presentation: Milk Dumping

Tune in a 6:50 for a short presentation from Sreya Das, our NTMN Regional Science Fair award recipient for her project on the crisis of milk dumping: “In the United States, over 43 million gallons of milk are dumped into freshwater streams every year. Milk dumping affects the prosperity of both freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems while also affecting the public freshwater supply. Furthermore, milk dumping can result in detrimental economic loss for farmers and devastates the ecotourism industry. Currently, there are no easily scalable processes that can curb the detrimental impacts of milk dumping. This project offers a novel alternative solution using Hermetia illucens, a native Texas fly.

Sreya Das is a senior at Lone Star High School in Frisco. Local, sustainable environmental action is important to her as she believes it is our duty to take care or our environment. Outside of research, she cares for two bunnies. You can always find her in a nook re-reading Pride and Prejudice and practicing fly puns.

Camera Roll

As usual, show up or tune in between 6:30 and 7 pm for an array of photos by TMNs. Theme is open this month, but photos that stress nature’s survivors or show a life and death struggle befitting the 2021 Survivor theme are encouraged. Send to Ashleigh Miller.

Covid Protocol

Please participate at the level you’re comfortable. We’re excited to meet in person, but we don’t take this decision lightly. We expect all attendees to consider the health and well-being of their fellow attendees and comply with all policies.

  • MASKS are required at Dallas College in accordance with the Dallas County Risk Level Red.
  • The room will be set to allow for SOCIAL DISTANCING (4 people per table for maximum capacity of 100).
  • HAND SANITIZER will be available.
  • Food and drinks will not be provided, but you may bring your own.

A Tribute to Shannon Love

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by Patricia Jordan

When Shannon Love passed away, we asked for remembrances.  Many of her friends and family responded.  So many in fact, that it was hard to include every story mentioned without writing a book. I’ve tried to include and coordinate as many as I could.  Apologies if I have stepped on toes or left someone or something out.

A Tribute to Shannon Love

Shannon Love.

Shannon was a talented artist and birder, nature lover, big hearted friend, lover or animals, tireless volunteer, poker player, lifelong learner, investigator, sparkling wit.

After her breast cancer diagnosis, which she openly talked about to all her friends, Shannon set out to see and do everything she possibly could. For several years despite multiple cancer treatments, she was able to keep going, persevering, always on the hunt for one more bird, grand adventure, Big Day.

Most of us witnessed her love of our natural world. She became a NTMN in 2012.  Almost immediately, since birding was one of her passions, she became a member of the first Master Birder class.  Often, she stated she felt unqualified to be in the class, was surprised she was accepted. However ill prepared she may have felt, soon enough through her diligence, she equaled or surpassed all her fellow classmates.

Shannon’s enthusiastic teaching.

Her enthusiasm and passion for birding, kindled by that class and our wonderful teachers, later led to many other birdy jobs and adventures. A natural teacher, she became a favorite trainer and instructor at Twelve Hills. She worked at John Bunker Sands for two years, teaching classes and leading walks. As a leader of our NTMN Birding 101 classes, she was really the best of us. Her enthusiasm and effervescent personality made her a hit with people of all ages and her computer graphic skills made her classroom presentations both informative and entertaining.

Shannon’s identification skills were epic, one of those few who could identify a bird with only the slightest glimpse, or a few fleeting notes of a song heard from afar, so she was invaluable on Christmas Bird Counts. She was Danny Sansone’s co-pilot for many of those counts. She birded everywhere—from her car, her yard, planted with native plants and flowers, her hospital window while getting treatments, finally from her hospital bed at her home. In the end her yard list included 121 birds, the second longest in Dallas.

Plant surveys at John Wilt’s land.

Birding was not her only passion.  She was also involved with Native Plant Society.  Her spotting and plant identification skills were well known to Jim and Stephanie Varnum whom she accompanied on orchid counts at Cedar Ridge Preserve.  Chris Wordlaw, who was with Shannon on one of those hunts, said she could spot those orchids hiding, sometimes seeming to call them up herself with her magical spotting skills.

Long before she became a NTMN, Shannon was an artist.  Earning BA and MA degrees in art from Texas Tech University and University of Dallas where she specialized in painting.  If you’ve ever been to her house in Kessler Park, you’ve seen her work.  Huge black and white masterpieces, often with a void somewhere.  If asked their meaning, she like any artist, replied that it’s what they mean to the viewer that’s important.  Attorneys used her graphic arts skills as an illustrator to help them present evidence.

Shannon’s birthday party.

Once, when a pair of thieves made her neighborhood their own, Shannon took it upon herself to help catch them. So, she tracked them down. Imagine Shannon, stalking down her human prey, moving through the shadows, using her artist’s eye for details. Later, she made sketches, aiding the police in the apprehension of those thieves.  Just one reason she was beloved in her neighborhood.

Shannon was also an avid poker player. For years she was member of a monthly poker group.  Her refined memory must have helped as she often she won first prize—a t-shirt. Picture her with Cassius Marcelius Coolidge’s famous painting of the Dogs Playing Poker adorning the front of her T-shirt.

Shannon and the bird gals.

Tireless in her pursuit of “just one more bird,” Shannon was always up for the chase. Once, Shannon and a group of Master Birder friends went searching in vain for Prairie Chickens, traipsing around all day without a sighting, everyone dragging after a daylong hunt in sweltering 107-degree heat.  At sunup the next morning, Shannon was out the door urging everyone to search for that “damn bird” again. I don’t think they ever found it, but it wasn’t for want of trying.

She could wear down even the most passionate of birders.  I was Shannon’s “roomie” and carpool partner on a trip with other Birding 101 leaders.  We had gone to High Island, Texas’ famed birding hot spot. It was late Sunday afternoon and we all had to work Monday morning.  I didn’t think Shannon would ever consent to leave.  I, for one, was worn out.  Finally, we walked to our car long after Natha and Linda had gone.

Shannon Love (left, at scope) in the first Master Birder class.

On the way home Shannon insisted we stop near Houston to see the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.  When we got there, evening was descending, but as soon as we got out of the car, we heard their song.  After we saw one or two, I was more than ready to go. Because of Shannon, we wandered around after even more woodpeckers for at least an hour.  I’m sure we saw every woodpecker on that small tract. I was knackered.  We still had to drive to Dallas through Sunday evening traffic and rain. However, if not for Shannon, I would never have seen that rare bird.  I’ve never seen it again.

In collecting info for this tribute, I heard many stories from birding friends Janie Henderson, Jane Ramberg, Caroline Humphries, Susan Tiholiz, and Julie Mobley about

Volunteering at Twelve Hills Nature Center.

Shannon’s quick wit and love of fun.  They report her breaking out with joyous enthusiasm in a beautiful rendition of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma. Or “Getting to Know You” from The King and I, while doing a wonderful imitation of the dancing Siamese children.  And she was the best at Bird Charades—imitating the American Woodcock’s “silly walk” with its intricate and unique footwork, or a Reddish Egret using its outspread wings to create shadows on the water to attract fish.  Sometimes she made humorous bird names for everyone in the group—Silver-crowned Elegant Egret, Red-cockaded Tyrant Flycatcher, Black-crested Cuckoo, Broad-tailed Brown Booby.

Shannon Love.

Her love of animals was shown by her ever varying menagerie of dogs and cats.  Each time anyone was lucky enough to visit Shannon, there seemed to be a different group.   Some were gone, but others added.  Marcie Haley says late one afternoon at Twelve Hills, they came upon a lost and very bedraggled pit bull.  Everyone was trying to figure out what to do with him.  Shannon said she would take him.  When she opened her car door, he immediately jumped in and curled up in front of the passenger seat as if they were destined to be together.  He, Gable, found the most wonderful, loving home with Shannon.

One of my favorite stories was related by Shannon’s neighbors Marcie Haley, Ellen Parrill, and Laura Hagan.  Near the end, wanting to do something special for Shannon, they took her out in Ellen’s black Audi convertible for one more birding outing. Shannon was weak and thin by then.  But I can just picture her, wind blowing through her chemo pixie, which was darling, but upsetting, headed for Wolf Springs Rd. where many great birds can be found.  When they arrived,

Shannon and fellow educators and staff at John Bunker Sands Wetland Center.

Shannon was so excited by the many birdcalls that she jumped out of the car, more animated and spryer than anyone expected her to be at that point.  Thrilled to see more birds, thrilled for her friends to see what they’d never seen before.

That’s the way I’d like to remember Shannon, big smile, determined to go “over here, and over here.” Just as excited when her friends saw something as if she had herself, on her last adventure, wind in her hair, binoculars up, smile on her face, eyes sparkling.

We will all miss Shannon.  We were privileged to have her in our lives. But let’s not let sadness overwhelm us.  Rather, let us follow her example. With courage and passion, let us strive for one more adventure, one for bird, one more day until we, like Shannon run out of time.

Birding excursion on John Wilt’s land.

The Triumph of Turtles in Urban DFW – Nov 3 Wed – NTMN meeting Online or In Person!

Join us via Zoom or at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, Building H, Room 125, on Wednesday, November 3! Gather at 6:30 pm, Meeting at 7:00 pm. See Covid details, below.

The Triumph of Turtles in Urban DFW

Carl Franklin, Texas Turtles

Turtles have roamed the earth and occupied its waters for some 230 million years. Theirs is truly an example of evolutionary success! The southeastern United States is recognized as a global hotspot for turtle diversity and with 31 species. Texas is home to nearly half the turtle diversity of the United States, with 18 species known from the DFW area! Join us for a turtle eye candy presentation celebrating the conservation, diversity, ecology and natural history of these interesting reptiles and the role they play in our portion of the state.

Zoom link

Carl J. Franklin of Texas Turtles has held a lifelong fascination and passion for herpetology ​with a keen focus on turtles. Over the past 26 years, he has worked at the herpetology departments of the Fort Worth Zoo, Dallas Zoo and the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has assisted in and conducted numerous herpetological scientific collecting expeditions in Ecuador,


Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Java, Sumatra and the United States that have contributed to new breakthroughs in science as well as the discovery of hundreds of new species of amphibians and reptiles. Aside from working within the scientific field of herpetology and being included among the primary authors contributing to Texas herpetology, Carl has bred and maintained several species of reptiles and received the Joseph Laszlo award for outstanding contributions in herpetoculture.  He is an avid outdoorsman, photographer, frequent speaker for a variety of audiences, and has worked with a number of television documentaries showcasing reptiles.  He is also a member of the IUCN SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.

The November 2021 Chapter meeting:

Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

6:30 Camera Roll
7:00 Introduction and Announcements
7:20 Featured Presentation
8:45 Adjournment


Please participate at the level you’re comfortable. We’re excited to meet in person, but we don’t take this decision lightly. We expect all attendees to consider the health and well-being of their fellow attendees and comply with all policies.

  • MASKS are required at Dallas College in accordance with the Dallas County Risk Level Red.
  • The room will be set to allow for SOCIAL DISTANCING (4 people per table for maximum capacity of 100).
  • HAND SANITIZER will be available.
  • Food and drinks will not be provided, but you may bring your own.

Or continue to participate from home! The user experience will remain the same on Zoom. Register for the Zoom meeting here. You do not need to register for Zoom if you are attending in person.

You will be asked to fill out a COVID-19 Screening Form if you choose to attend in person. If you would like to review in advance, it can be found here. Texas Master Naturalist COVID-19 Response.