President’s Message – Our Busy Year Continues

By Bruce Stewart, President

We have three major administrative initiatives unique for this year that we are committed to complete:

  • Hosting the Texas Master Naturalist Annual Meeting in October
  • Moving with AgriLife from the Dallas County Office on Marsh Lane to the new Dallas County building in the former Brinker Building on LBJ at Hillcrest
  • Hosting an Urban Wildlife Conference with Sam – completed on August 15

Texas Master Naturalist Annual Conference
As you know our chapter is the host for the 2019 TMN Annual Meeting held this year at the Hilton Rockwall from October 18 to 20. We had two major initiatives for this event: the field excursions and the silent auction.

Field Excursions
When the 2019 Annual Conference was announced at the close of the 2018 event, two master naturalists were heard to comment “Well … there won’t be much to do in Dallas, will there?” Well, we know there is a lot to do outside in North Texas. The challenge was to narrow down the choices that we could offer that weekend with the limiting factor being not where to go but how to get there. TMN planners would prefer participants use buses for several reasons: safety, limited parking at the venues, and traffic considerations. We expanded the field excursions to include the Wednesday and Thursday before the meeting starts and the Sunday after the conference is officially over. This expanded schedule gave us many more options and we found the organizations at each of these places very interested in sharing their stories and facilities with the master naturalists. We have found that Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday afternoon excursions were very popular when registration opened for the meeting August 1.

Check out the excursions in the online A Guide to Getting Outside at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

The full agenda is here.

The Agenda Matrix is hereThis can help you with scheduling.

You may register for the conference here.

The Silent Auction
The major initiative for NTMN that remains for the Annual Conference is to host the Silent Auction. This is a major fundraiser for the Texas Master Naturalist program. We have tried to get information from last year’s auction and the results weren’t available. We tried to get the results from 2016 and 2017 and the results weren’t available either. This should tell you how much of a challenge it is to manage the silent auction with pencils, paper, and clipboards. Using Word and Excel to try to manage the auction didn’t seem to help much either.

What we decided to do for 2019 is to use an auction management program to enable computers to manage the auction. It will also allow bidders to use their own computers or smartphones to bid and pay for their items. It took some product comparison work and analysis, but we found the Silent Auction Pro software met most of our needs. We are using Silent Auction Pro to organize our workflow. We hope that the invoicing and reporting will make the auction much easier to manage. And, we think it will be a better experience for those bidding on items.

One of the benefits of using an online system is that we can start entering the bidders and auction items now and not have to wait until the Friday of the conference to do the bulk of the work. We will be bringing the silent auction to you in the coming weeks as we start to add bidders and donations into the database.

Auction Volunteers
We will need many volunteers to manage the auction. If we can get enough volunteers, we should be able to set up shifts that will enable members to attend sessions and to go on field trips as well as work the auction. Once we have determined what we will need volunteers to do and when they will need to do it, we will set up a VolunteerSignup for the Silent Auction so you can get involved. We will need a few training sessions so you will know what to do. We will set these up before the September and October chapter meetings and at the Rockwall Hilton the week of the conference.

Stay tuned for more information about the Annual Meeting and the Auction and how you can help.

The Move
Dallas County initiated a move from Marsh Lane facility to the former Brinker International Building on LBJ at Hillcrest. The county has repurposed the new facility for the offices of the court, Marshalls, AgriLife, and other entities in the county office building. The actual move will probably take place in October. We don’t know the layout of the new space, but we don’t anticipate that there will be a large area for meetings. Committee meetings may take place in a conference room as well as a classroom during business hours. We also don’t know how much room, if any, we will have for storage. Carolyn Rozier, one of our wiser committee chairs, seeing the upcoming problem with storage, has already coordinated a move of the Dallas County Herbarium and all of its working supplies and collected specimens to Texas Discovery Gardens.

We will assess what needs to be moved and where it will go in the next few weeks. We are lucky to have Gary Barton, our Resource Manager, coordinating the move so we are confident that all options will be considered. We will let you know when we need your help to pack up and move things. There will be a lot of volunteer hours spent in completing this move. We will want to get this done as soon as we can work out the details because we anticipate that we will be busy in October with the Texas Master Naturalist Annual Meeting.

Urban Wildlife Conference
We completed the Urban Wildlife Conference on August 15 and were encouraged by the interest in the community for the program. Additional details on the Urban Wildlife Conference are presented later in this newsletter by Sam Kieschnick.

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