Name: Sara Beckelman
Hometown: Baytown, Texas
NTMN Class: 1999 class (2nd Class)
NTMN Positions: VP Administration (which included recording of our members’ VH and AT hours.), Treasurer (unexpired term of another Treasurer), Secretary, Membership Assistant, State Representative, President and Past President. Also headed a couple of committees during my 20 years with the Chapter. I have certified and re-certified every year. At the end of this year I will have all the pins available from the Texas Master Naturalist program. I am very proud of that.
Fun fact: I love to pull weeds. Many people do not understand this “quirk” of mine but it is very relaxing past time and it takes me outdoors.
How did you hear about the program? A friend of mine named Marcia Borders took the Master Composter class with me in Irving. She was one of the people who helped start our Chapter.
What made you want to become a member? I thoroughly enjoyed the Master Composter program and became a Master Composter Trainer through the training and testing of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (which is now the TCEQ). After that my co-trainer, Marcia Borders, asked me to help start the North Texas Chapter but I was too involved in 1998. I therefore took the 1999 class and really enjoyed it. I had always been a gardener but I realized that just getting outside and working with my hands was what was so soothing to me.
Which projects have you most enjoyed during your tenure as a NTMN? I am a “generalist” and I like many different projects equally. My first project was Clean-up at Reverchon Park. This project has been with our Chapter since 1999. After that I helped with a restoration project on the South side of I-20 between spur 408 and Cedar Ridge Drive. John Snowden helped us with that project. We did erosion control, planted switchgrass in the ditch leading to the lower level pond (The rushing of water there was pushing soil down to the pond.), and sowed native plant seeds along the roadside hill. We also did an application of a herbicide to the Scabiosa atropurpurea there on the hillside. All of this gave me lots of training on details of how things should be done. We also had milkweed on the property and did transects on the number of Monarch eggs there in early spring. We had a contract with TxDOT for a two-year period for this project. Our first president, Kip Kiphart, was the Coordinator. Then I gravitated to Texas Discovery Gardens and the State Fair where I was able to work in the Butterfly house to advise visitors on butterfly facts. I have continued my interest there and have served during the State Fair every year. In 2008 I took the Citizen Forester program and have enjoyed learning how to plant, prune, ID and do risk assessments on many different tree species.
In the recent past I have enjoyed seed collecting and preparing the seeds for either seedballs or for sowing in several different areas. I am the coordinator and Trustee for the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, where I learned that history is so interesting. I am also a Board member of the Dallas Urban Forest Advisory Committee, on which I have served since 2008. I also enjoy doing administrative work for the Chapter. All of these activities give me contact with different members of our Chapter and members of the public. I have been active in Irving as a member of their Tree Board (a Tree City USA member) and a member of their Green Advisory Board for 10 years. This activity has given me access to City of Irving Staff and Department Directors, who are all environmentalists. I am so lucky to live in such a great city.
In your opinion, what is the biggest impact NTMN and the TMN program provide the community? Due to our lack of media attention in the early years, it has taken a long time for our efforts to be recognized, but we are now on a short list of groups to contact about any issues regarding natural resource management in our area. I think it was possibly when TPWD announced that we had provided $1,000,000 worth of volunteer hours/service to their programs that the public started to realize our value.
Favorite quote? “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” by Mahatma Gandhi.
Anything else you’d like to add? I am very excited to join a Master Naturalist Chapter in Missouri next year. I plan to show them our curriculum and the projects we have done in the past 20 years. I hope they will be interested in doing some great projects in Springfield. Anyone in our chapter can e-mail me whenever they want at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to stay in contact with my Chapter members!