By Bruce Stewart, President
As 2019 draws to a close, I would like to bring you up to date on the three major initiatives that we pursued: coordinating the Urban Wildlife program in August, completing the move of the NTMN office, and hosting the TMN 2019 Annual Conference
Urban Wildlife Conference
The Urban Wildlife conference is something that NTMN typically hosts in August. Sam Kieschnick, our TPWD Urban Biologist, determines what topics would appeal to our urban audience and then lines up the speakers for those topics. The North Texas chapter does everything else from registering participants and setting up the venue to securing CEUs for those people who need them for their certifications. The program at the Richardson Civic Center filled the room to capacity and the participants were very pleased with the presentations. We are planning another conference in 2020 in which Sam will identify the topics and speakers that seem relevant for our urban audience. To see pictures of the conference, please click here.
We have known for over a year that the Dallas County Commissioners planned to move in 2019 from the county office building on Marsh Lane to what was the Brinker building on LBJ Freeway at Hillcrest Rd. The move was originally scheduled for the week of October 16 but was postponed to mid-November. In the interim, a tornado blew through the Walnut Hill corridor and the county had to close the damaged Marsh Lane building. Recently the permanent move out of the Marsh Lane building was rescheduled to sometime in December.
We were hoping to have this settled by the end of the year but have been forced to make temporary accommodations. The Nature Discovery Trunks have been temporarily located at members’ homes until we have a permanent place to store them. In the interim, if you need to use a trunk for a program, please go to the Nature Discovery Trunk page on our website for more information. Gary Barton, our Resource Manager, has moved all of our NTMN materials out of the Marsh Lane building. Some of our things are stored in his garage and some have been moved to temporary storage in Collin County.
Help Us Store Stuff
The resources that are available for meeting space and storage in the new facility will dictate how we move forward. We have been talking with the Master Gardeners to see if we can share storage space somewhere similar to the space we have at the Marsh Lane building. We have investigated the retail storage opportunities in the Dallas area which are quite costly. We would be well served by a place in the county that we could visit seven days a week to retrieve materials and the Nature Discovery Trunks for our programs. If you have a space or know of a place in Dallas County that we might use to store our stuff, let Gary know by email email@example.com.
Hosting the TMN Annual Conference
We were the host chapter for the Texas Master Naturalist 2019 Annual Conference. Over 600 participants from throughout Texas came to the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront for the event in October. Our members were very busy arranging the field excursions as well as managing the silent auction fundraiser.
- The North Texas chapter had the largest number of registrants at the meeting – 92.
- We had an army of volunteers helping with the Silent Auction, presentations, and field excursions.
- We had 35 presenters who are either chapter members or are aligned with our chapter. To see pictures of class sessions, please go here.
- We helped identify and coordinate 30 Field Excursions. The number of sites visited was significantly greater than 30 as we combined sites to make the best use of travel time. For example, we went to TRAC and Pemberton Big Spring on Friday afternoon because the sites are so close together and the travel time was challenged by afternoon traffic. At each of these sites, we could present the work that NTMN has done in the Great Trinity Forest. We have compiled pictures taken at some of the field trips in our Gallery. You can see those here.
- We won awards at the dinner this year.
- Sam Kieschnick won Advisor of the Year.
- Sara Beckelman was recognized as having attended every TMN Annual Conference by Michelle Haggerty, TMN program manager. I also presented Sara with a special award on behalf of the North Texas Chapter. To see pictures of the awards dinner, please go here.
- Two of our members artistic efforts won awards, too.
- We raised over $13K at the Auction. The funds are used for TMN project grants, scholarships to the annual meeting, and to bring in speakers and trainers for future annual meetings. Many of our members donated items and worked at the Auction to make it a success. To see pictures of the Silent Auction, please click here.
- Next year the meeting will be in Houston on October 15-18, 2020. Mark your calendar now and make plans to attend.
Please put Wednesday, December 11 on your calendar for the Annual Awards Banquet and plan to attend. We will celebrate our 2019 successes, look forward to 2020, and recognize certifications, milestones, and other awards that our members have achieved this year. Please go here for more information. You need to rsvp by December 4th!