by Scott Hudson
Last post of the year
Drawing near the end of 2020, perhaps the oddest year one could hope to experience, the key path on my mind is gratefulness. Looking back over the major themes of the year – the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the much-heightened and needed focus on racism and justice issues, a tough election season – 2020 has challenged us deeply. Yet there is so much good to celebrate, particularly here at NTMN.
Foremost, I am thankful for you, the members of our chapter. In a year that hasn’t been easy, you have pulled together in ways that are truly remarkable. Bearing in mind the health of our community, we were early adopters of protective guidelines and we keep working to stay safe. Through all this, rather than complaining, you’ve embraced the changes and supported what was necessary to look out for each other. Many of you spoke up in appreciation of the chapter’s stance. So proud of how you have risen to the occasion.
Class of 2020, your resilience has been inspiring. Your training shifted mid-stream and you stuck with the program. The numbers certifying and especially the service hours logged are impressive. While there’s more about the new class elsewhere in this newsletter, I can’t resist mentioning how the White Rock Prairie Restoration Project tied for first place in the Annual Meeting competition. Nicely done.
Ongoing Service: So many have found ways to redirect energies into online projects like BRIT’s Armchair Botanist. As limited workdays have become practical many of you have been able to participate at LLELA, Spring Creek Forest Preserve, Frankford Prairie, Warren Ferris Cemetery, Connemara, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Texas Discovery Gardens, and Twelve Hills Nature Center, to name a few. Ten months into 2020 you had already logged over 19,000 volunteer service hours! You’re doing great work. You are making a difference.
Chapter Board Transitions
It takes a lot of folks to keep a group this size running. I have many people to thank in this regard, serving on all sorts of committees and on our board. With the election at the November chapter meeting we’ve begun board member transitions. First, I want to recognize each of our outgoing board members. Thank you, Tabatha Knickerbocker for your service as Youth Outreach Director. Thank you, Steve Wilson, for your service as State Representative. Thank you, Susan Walters, Membership Director, for your two terms of service. Thank you, Ann Willis-Brown for your service as Co-Treasurer. Thank you, Jo Lynne Merrill, for your service to the chapter, as Vice President and before that as Secretary. I will miss all of you at board meetings.
Moving to those who are coming into positions for the 2021-2022 terms, I am so grateful to this group for your willingness to serve NTMN. Thank you to each incoming board member and officer:
New Class Director – Sue Matkin, Class of 2020
Youth Outreach Director – Tiffany Lipsett, Class of 2004
State Representative – Paula Hagan, Class of 2019
Co-Treasurer – Dan Matkin, Class of 2020
Vice President – Susannah Moore, Class of 2019
We have two people returning/continuing board service:
Membership Director – Laura Kimberly, Class of 2015 and previously New Class Director
Secretary – Connie Koval, Class of 2012, continuing your service as Secretary for a second term, and previously Education Director.
As you can see from the various classes, we have a healthy range of experience with the chapter. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll get to know these board members. I’m certainly looking forward to serving with them.
Progress on Goals
This will touch briefly on three areas that so far have been largely behind the scenes, yet will significantly impact NTMN’s effectiveness going forward.
Outreach Trunks: The Education and Youth Development Teams coordinated a thorough review and refining of the contents of the educational trunks. While they haven’t been used so much this year, they are ready to go when we return to in-person events.
Finances: A Financial Task Force assessed our current position and processes. The board adopted recommendations regarding budget reviews, transparency, establishing a Strategic Planning team.
Diversity and Inclusion: Our new D&I Task Force developed a chapter D&I statement, adopted by the board and published this summer. The board also adopted a series of goals and objectives that will shape NTMN activities in this area, especially as in-person gatherings become practical.
As we look into the months ahead, there are several areas to be excited about. This year wraps up with a presentation from our state program coordinators, Michelle Haggerty and Mary Pearl Meuth, recent recipients of the TMN Exemplary Service Award. Their topic: Why Being a Master Naturalist Matters. So please mark your calendars for December 9th.
We’ll have a new year of engaging programs, starting out January 1st with our First Day Hikes at John Wilt’s property, just a short drive south of Dallas. Take your pick of morning and afternoon hikes, and be sure to sign up early.
Coming up February 3-4 is the TMN Virtual Volunteer Fair, your opportunity to volunteer for a wide variety of conservation and outreach projects. At this year’s fair I was amazed at the range of activities available. Proposals for the 2021 fair are being accepted through December 15th. If you have a project idea that needs help, you can begin the submission here.
Of course, we’re looking forward to the coronavirus vaccine rollout and getting to that new normal. I’m eager for us to move on with all the kinds of contributions NTMN makes.
Thank you for all you do for conservation, education, and outreach.
Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays,