A Message from Our President

by Scott Hudson

I have moved over a great part of Texas and I know that within its borders I have seen just about as many kinds of country, contour, climate, and conformation as there are in the world saving the Arctic, and a good north wind can even bring the icy breath down.

― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be a Texas Master Naturalist and came across this passage from John Steinbeck. Writing this note as we begin to thaw out from our record-setting winter storm, I appreciate the understatement that the “north wind can even bring the icy breath.” Who knew we’d be hit so hard? The birds that have been flocking to feeders seem relieved to find other sources of food available again. I hope you are all recovering well from the effects of this deep freeze. 

Steinbeck discusses our state at some length, with a favorable eye toward both the environment he found and the people. 

I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.

― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America

Obsession, proper study, and passionate possession struck me as a strong statement. Yet it really aligns well with our mission as Texas Master Naturalists. His comments remind how fortunate we are to live in a part of the country with such natural diversity and ecological significance. That perspective fits our state overall, but it also fits the richness of our North Texas area. I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty of comparisons between features – forests, prairies, streams, ecological communities – we find here and what’s found in other parts of the country. I’m relearning how truly remarkable our natural resources here are. Remarkable and incredibly precious in their own right. 

For me, particular moments of awe have been on a macro scale, seeing more of the connectedness between locations we hike and explore, how one watershed fits with the next. On a micro scale, I’ve found out more about the variety of fungi in our area, really enough to show me how little I know (shout out to the folks providing resources/links at Fantastic Fungi). These experiences make me more excited about protecting and sharing what we have.

All of which is by way of saying that I hope for you that you’re finding some aha moments in nature that stimulate and challenge.


A few goings on around the chapter to note – Diversity & Inclusion, TMN Tuesdays, 2021 Leadership Retreat, Membership Survey

If you haven’t seen them already, I suggest you check out the Diversity & Inclusion team’s Facebook posts for Black History Month. So much progress, so much inspiration.

We are moving to make our activities and our chapter more welcoming and more available to underserved portions of the community. This is the direction of NTMN and it reflects our sponsors’ commitment as well. The next TMN Tuesday is scheduled as a session on diversity and inclusion. Please tune in at noon on March 9th. Or view the recording at your convenience; they’re generally available a day or two following. 

The two TMN Tuesday presentations so far have been excellent. January provided an overview of the TMN statewide program and what to expect over the year ahead. Doug Tallamy presented on Nature’s Best Hope in February (spoiler alert: it’s you). Another fun way to get an hour of Advanced Training.

The annual NTMN leadership retreat was a bit different this year, only partially because it was a virtual meeting. Our goals for 2020 were a little grand for the year we ended up with, so several of these, with refinements, will carry forward in 2021. Keep an eye out for progress in chapter education and outreach, improvements in our financial practices, more on diversity and inclusion, and improving member engagement through affinity groups. 

You may have already heard about the launching of NTMN Affinity Groups. The idea is to build connections among members with like interests. Examples include birding, insects, native plants, nature art, and more. We have a real opportunity to bridge geographic and large-membership challenges in our chapter and engage with each other at a different level. 

Another important part of the leadership retreat focused on identifying how we best serve our mission and members. We need to hear from you, to get your ideas and understand your concerns. To that end a Membership Survey is in process. Look for an email this spring inviting your participation.

Last, the board is as eager as anyone to reopen in-person training and service opportunities. We track applicable COVID restrictions and local trends closely. With safety as a priority, we will make changes as conditions improve.

Thanks for all you do for our communities!

Scott Hudson

Chapter President


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