An Urgent Update to the NTMN Community about Coronavirus – March 20, 2020

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An Urgent Update to the NTMN Community about Coronavirus – March 20, 2020

“Rapidly evolving” hardly captures the changes we’ve experienced over the last week. Phrases like community spread and social distancing, new to my vocabulary, are now heavily on our minds. As of yesterday, Dallas County reported 55 covid-19 cases and, sadly, our first fatality.

At the same time, significant progress is being made on the testing front and some of the first cases have already gone home healthy. We all have a major role in what happens from here. To quote Dallas County Judge Jenkins again,

“It is imperative that you exercise sound decision-making in your personal responsibility decisions. We must replace selfishness with sacrifice if we are to protect our seniors and most vulnerable amongst us. Don’t give into fear, rather have faith in the science, the science that will be your road map to keeping you and your family safe. Replace panic with prayer and personal responsibility. We can do this North Texas, but it takes all of us. The life you save may be your Nana’s.”

The latest CDC recommendation is to postpone or cancel events over the next eight weeks. The NTMN board wholeheartedly supports this. To that end, all North Texas Master Naturalist in-person gatherings are suspended at least until May 15th.

While our meeting venue at Brookhaven College remains closed, the programs team is working on a way to conduct the May meeting online. Check here for updated information.

We will be closely monitoring the situation. Any changes will be posted here.

Stay safe.

A few resources:

CDC on stress and anxiety: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

DCHHS Order: https://files.constantcontact.com/4bcac1ec301/3a400386-6421-4650-9fe9-2ab00de017b9.pdf

City of Dallas Regulations: https://files.constantcontact.com/4bcac1ec301/0a508e65-854b-48a0-a5b3-9ce47c4f391d.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html
Guidance as of 3/15/2020

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

Please keep up the nonpharmaceutical interventions:

1 – Practice good hygiene 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

2 – Practice social distancing to minimize close contact, especially if you are at higher risk.

  • Limit going out as much as you can
  • When out in public, take advantage of the space available to spread out.
  • Greetings – consider a wave, nod, etc. A handshake isn’t necessary.
  • Vulnerable populations (60+ years old and/or certain health conditions) – avoid gatherings
  • Again, if you are sick, stay home and seek medical advice as needed.

These practices truly slow the spread of infection. And you’ll be modeling good behaviors to the public.

Dragonflyer #80 March 2020

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THE DRAGONFLYER
March 2020, Volume 80

A Message from our President

Scott Hudson, our new NTMN President, brings us up to date on this year’s main goals coming out of the 2020 Planning meeting. The four identified priorities are:

  • Improving Outreach Efforts
  • Enhancing Member Engagement
  • Increasing Chapter Diversity
  • Improving Budgeting and Financial Processes

Read more about these efforts here.

Welcome 2020 Trainees!

On February 4th, we welcomed our newest Trainees. Read about their breadth of experience and diversity here. Lots to be excited about! We’re glad you’re here.

Photo: Alan Lusk

Amy Martin: Preserving and Creating Nature

North Texas Master Naturalists are making a difference in North Texas, and people are talking about it! Amy Martin (class of 2018) is featured in the February issue of Dallas Doing Good, a non-profit news and media website. Author Liliana Banta has written a wonderful article praising both Amy’s commitment to restoring Texas prairies and her considerable contributions to our chapter that culminated with Amy receiving a 2019 Chapter President’s Award. The interview provides a wonderful view into the passion for nature that lies at the heart of Master Naturalists everywhere. Read the article here!

Big Chapter Projects for this Year

This year, the membership voted on where to have our Big Chapter Projects.  While we had many great suggestions, there were two that stood out with multiple votes. The Spring edition will be at Post Oak Preserve in Seagoville, and the Fall edition will be at Twelve Hills Nature Center in Oak Cliff.

Photo: Carroll Mayhew

NTMN MEMBER NEWS

Help Wanted
We have a number of vacancies that could really use your support. Take a look at some of the great opportunities for you to gain your volunteer hours and help out the chapter.

Member Spotlight: Scott Hudson
Our latest featured member is our new Chapter President. Read more about his background here.

New Guidelines from Agrilife
Read about the new guidelines in place for accessing the Agrilife buildings and using their resources.

Join us on Social Media! Be sure to follow us on your favorite app.
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter
Flickr

And you know we have a private Facebook Group just for our members? Check it out!

The Media Room

Take a look at these photo albums submitted by NTMN photo committee and project leaders:
First Day of Class for the 2020 Trainees
New Year’s Day Hike and Chapter Meeting
2020 Chapter Planning Meeting

And visit our Flickr account to see albums from other events!

General NTMN Information

Monthly meetings are usually held on the first Wednesday of each month starting at 6:30 pm and are always open to the public. Check ntmn.org for speaker announcements and location.

Officer and Committee Listing
Event Calendar

Our Mission

To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural wild areas within their communities within the state of Texas.

CANCELED —Lichens 101 with Manuela Dal Forno

CANCELED — APRIL NTMN MEETING — CANCELED

In an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Brookhaven College is canceling the use of meeting space for groups. We regret that we are not able to hold our April NTMN meeting due to this understandable and sensible restriction. We will reschedule our speaker on lichens, Dr. Manuela Dal Forno, on a later date. Please review the links below and do a little self-study on the topic. Stay safe, everyone!

ALSO NOTE — NTMN-sponsored volunteer and training activities have been suspended through March 20th. Please contact all activity organizers before attending any event. Monitor our calendar page for updates as they become available: https://public.ntmn.org/calendar

Our presenter for April is Manuela Dal Forno, aka Manu, a research botanist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). In this presentation, you will learn what lichens are and what they are not, how to identify them, where to look for them, and so much more.

Lichens are complex symbiotic systems formed by a main fungal partner (the mycobiont), a green algal and/or a cyanobacterial partner (the photobiont), along with a diverse community of microorganisms formed primarily of bacteria and fungi (the microbiome). Lichenization is a fungal lifestyle, based on nutritional strategy, which has evolved multiple times throughout the fungal tree of life. There are approximately 20,000 species of lichenized fungi recognized so far and many more yet to be discovered.

After the program, you will get a chance to discuss more about lichens with a hands-on display and ask any further questions that may come up as you interact with the scientist and real lichen samples. You are encouraged to bring local lichens and hand lenses to view samples more closely.

For a preview of her research, check out her website and this 3-minute video.

For more information on local lichens, check out this iNaturalist page and BRIT’s Lichen Study Guide for Oklahoma and Surrounding States.

Owls of North Texas & the Use of Rodenticides 

Owls of North Texas & the Use of Rodenticides

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Social time starts at 6:30 pm. Meeting at 7 pm. Speaker begins at approximately 7:30 pm.

LOCATION:

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas County Extension Satellite Office
  • 715 Rowlett Road Garland TX 75040 — Go through the double chainlink gate on the right side of the building and park in the back. 
  • You are invited to come early and peruse the Master Gardener gardens on both sides of the building. 

Learn about the owls of North Texas, their eating and nesting habits, with Erich Neupert, executive director of the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center. Enjoy this chance to view some of the center’s educational owls up close. Hear their stories and the threats they face from humans.

Rodents make up a large part of owls’ diet. Hear veterinary technician Tracy Cassidy discuss studies in California on how rodenticide chemical baits, including first and second generation, have become the top choice for rat and mice control. Mounting anecdotal evidence suggests that predators and omnivores eat the sickened or dead rodents and the toxin accumulates in their bodies, leading to a painful death. Learn how to educate others on the safe use of rodenticides and alternatives to their use.

Bio: Erich Neupert has been interested in birds since he was eight years old and studied birds with his grandmother, an experienced birder with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After moving to Texas, Erich has held education and rehabilitation bird permits with Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife with a focus on raptors. As executive director and the permitted rehabilitator for Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the center from rehabilitation and education to fundraising and public outreach. The center receives more than 600 patients each year, making it one of the largest raptor rehabilitation centers in the country.

Bio: Tracy Cassidy has been a veterinary technician for 12 years, currently working in emergency medicine. She is certified in small-animal nursing and has cared for companion animals with a focus on cats, pocket pets, and exotics. While at the SPCA of Texas, she created a TNR/Feral Cat Wellness Program. She was a volunteer wildlife caretaker at River Legacy Science Center in Arlington and now volunteers for Texas Native Cats.