By Alan Lusk
Each year the Native Plant Society of Texas recognizes individuals and organizations that support and advance its mission, at an awards banquet during its annual meeting. These prestigious awards are bestowed for excellence in writing and communication, for conservation and public service, and for lifetime achievement in the conservation of native plants. This year on October 5 in League City, Marie-Theres Herz received the Shirley Lusk Award, which honors a Native Plant Society member in their role as a citizen scientist, for collecting and preserving Texas native plants for public education through her outstanding herbarium vouchers. In collecting, pressing and mounting specimens, Marie-Theres has been a huge asset for the Native Landscape Certification Program (NLCP) in the North Texas area and for our Dallas Chapter. She has created almost 150 botanical vouchers of the native and invasive plants covered in North Texas NLCP classes, taught the classes, organized training classes and led plant walks.
Marie-Theres is a born educator who loves to share her knowledge of native plants with others. She has helped teach herbarium volunteers to collect, press and mount plant specimens. She has collected additional specimens used in outreach activities of the North Texas Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist. She organizes and leads identifying and collecting walks for other Master Naturalists and the general public, adults and children. She created and presented a program for children to make cards using pressed plants and flowers.
Carolyn Rozier, North Texas Master Naturalist Herbarium Project Lead, said, “Marie-Theres’ contribution to the botany community, and the Dallas County community in general, has been huge, and her efforts over many years have been an exceptional contribution to our knowledge and understanding of our native plants.”
Janet Smith said, “As an administrator of the Dallas area NLCP classes, I do a psychological sigh of relief whenever Marie-Theres is with us. When we take the herbarium vouchers out of the binder and put them on display, the wall gets elevated into an art gallery.”
Since getting to know Marie-Theres through her collecting with North Texas Master Naturalist and through her work with NPSOT Dallas Chapter, I cannot think of a more worthy candidate to be the first recipient of the Shirley D. Lusk Memorial Award. Marie-Theres has stepped in where my mother left off mentoring me and teaching me more about the flora of Dallas County and collecting Herbarium specimens.