"The Independence Edition"
Newsletter of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists
Inspiring a Love of Nature | Citizen Scientists | Stewards of Nature | Educating All Ages
Working to Keep Arkansas
in its Natural State
The Independence Edition - July 1, 2020
Table of Contents
This newsletter has many varied topics, so in an attempt to let you peruse it a little more efficiently below is a listing of the contents.
Unfortunately, there is no way in Club Express to "link" directly to a location within the newsletter. However, the actual Section Header for each of the categories listed below will be in large red font.
- Important Dates in July
- Native Plant Sale Update
- AGFC JB and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center Update!!!
- Volunteer Opportunities
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
Beaver Watershed Alliance
Rogers Butterfly Park
- 2020 Graduate Spotlight
- Barn Owl Superstars
- Special Board Report - Strategic Plan
- June Board Report
- Contact Us
Important Dates in July
July 14 10AM-Noon - NWAMN Board Meeting. Will be conducted via ZOOM session. A few days prior to the meeting Dave Leisure will send an email to all members with a ZOOM link. EVERYONE is invited!!
July 19 2PM-4PM - NWAMN Chapter Meeting. Will also be conducted via ZOOM session.
This meeting is "Not To Be Missed." The speaker is Dr. Fred Paillet. Dr. Paillet will discuss Forest Forensics and his many years working with professionals in that field at Harvard Forest and the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. He is a co-author of Ozark Forest Forensics: The Science Behind the Scenery in Our Regional Forest. The Ozark Society publication says of the book: "Explanations go beyond trees and their habitat to include other diverse subjects: the leaf litter beneath a hiker's feet, strategies used by wildflowers for pollination and seed dispersal, diseases that can ravage our forest, and forces active in the landscape that impact conservation efforts."
Like the Board meeting a few days prior to the meeting Dave Leisure will send email to all members with ZOOM link. EVERYONE is invited!!
Click HERE for the latest calendar.
The front page of the chapter's webpage has been revamped.
Take a few minutes to take a stroll through it.
Here is a screenshot of the new page.
Make sure you don’t miss out on connecting with your fellow Master Naturalists in our new chapter-wide Facebook Group. Whether you have questions that need answers or you have knowledge to share with our community, we need you! Simply search Facebook for “NWAMN Community.” The group is for NWAMN members only, so you've got to answer a few questions before you're admitted.
It’s the place to connect with other members, ask for recommendations, share your projects, and set up small group meetups! Add a topic tag to your post to allow members to review or search all posts in a topic, making this a valuable resource. While all information on volunteer and continuing education is continually updated on the website, this group is a place for us to connect with each other!
Have you been wondering if you can be notified when new events are added to the online calendar?? We have a way - Join Twitter! Now, now, no moaning and groaning. Not a fan of Twitter? Hear me out and give it a try. Sign up for an account (make up a name if you prefer), follow us @NWAMNaturalists, click the bell for notifications.
Each time I add an event, I also post it to Twitter, and you get a notification. No more scrolling through the calendar wondering if you recognize any new events. If you don't follow anyone else, these will be the only notifications you get on Twitter!
Graduating Classes of 2020
The 2020 Benton County, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Washington County Master Naturalist classes were thrown a curveball from Covid-19. The virus caused the classes to be conducted via 13 ZOOM sessions. But the classes took it in stride. And through that difficulty the chapter now has the ENTIRE curriculum available via Youtube videos. So, where there are lemons...
Following are the graduating totals from the classes:
Benton County: 35
Eureka Springs: 16
Washington County: 29
Grand Total: 96 Newly Minted Master Naturalists
A note from Jane Foster, Washington County Class Coordinator:
I would like you to mention the wonderful work of Luca Shameh and Barbara Wenger in recording and managing the classroom. I don’t think we could have survived without these two NITs from Benton County.
JB and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center
Opening this Fall!
Tabbi Kinion, Education Division Chief for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Progress is still moving along on schedule on the construction of the new J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center. In spite of COVID-19, the building construction has stayed on track and is almost complete.
You can check out this recent video about the center. And you can always check in on the center on ourlive camera. (At the time of publication this camera was experiencing some issue.)
I am also happy to introduce you all to our new Center Manager, Schelly Corry. Schelly comes to us with over 25 years of experience in the field. She was the Education Director the last five years of her 17 years at the Heard Museum before leaving to join the team at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
The most recent large-scale project completed under her leadership as an Executive Director was building and opening The Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur, Alabama.
Schelly will start with AGFC on July 6th. Her first job will be to hire the rest of the staff team.
AGFC is so excited to get this facility open so we can work with NWAMN to create an outdoor hub in northwest Arkansas. Together we are going to connect so many people to the things that make this state wonderful.
Successful Year for Native Plants Project
Rose Gergerich and Kitty Sanders
Through ingenuity and perseverance, the Native Plant Project has already met its overall objectives for the year despite the changes in procedures demanded by the current pandemic. Success for this project can be measured by the number of plants sold during three unique plant sales and by the number of plants that have been donated to a variety of groups, all while following effective and strict protocols to protect our customers and volunteers.
Three innovative preorder sales were held for (a) Master Naturalists, (b) Washington County Master Gardeners, and (c) the members of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Master Naturalists picked up their plants near the nursery in West Fork, and the other two sales were held in lots where orders could be spaced 6-10 feet apart and customers could drive to their designated spots to gather their plants. Customers were directed to be cautious about entering the areas where people were already loading plants. These sales were so successful that the project not only met its expenses, but also earned enough to provide funding for other NWA Master Naturalist projects.
Pandemic Plant Sale at the Nursery.
Photo by Kitty Sanders.
Pandemic Plant Sale at the Nursery.
Photo by Kitty Sanders.
Successful Year for Native Plants Project (con't)
Encouraging the use of native plants has also been accomplished through the donation of plants to our partners and other groups. Over 600 plants have been shared with groups throughout northwest Arkansas. Many of these recipients mentioned that it was especially helpful to receive donations as funding is less secure in these troubled times.
Some of the groups that received donated plants are Illinois River Watershed Partnership, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Northwest Arkansas Community College, the City of Fayetteville, Shiloh Museum, Hobbs State Park, Devil’s Den State Park, Lake Wedington, Ozark Natural Science Center, the Rogers Butterfly Park, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Mock Park in Prairie Grove, and the Farmington Garden Club. Individuals who work with schools and other groups also received donated plants.
Established Native Plants in the North Bed on the Razorback Greenway.
Photo by Dave Leisure
Farmington Butterfly Garden
Photo by Kitty Sanders
Successful Year for Native Plants Project (con't)
Other marks of success were the growth of the project team, the increased diversity of plants offered, and the education of our members gained through workshops on seed cleaning, seed stratification, seed planting and seedling transplanting. Aid has been offered and gladly accepted by Eureka Springs Master Naturalists who hope to create their own native plant propagation project.
Master Naturalists have championed various native plant projects and continue to stay engaged at those settings, making sure that the plantings continue to thrive (see two photos above of the North and South Beds on the Razorback Greenway). The effort of these Master Naturalist volunteers is inspirational, and it is through their leadership and hard work that various projects continue to flourish.
What comes next? It will take the collective creativity of the group to determine how to move forward with pot sterilization (the project recycles thousands of used pots), seed collection, seed cleaning, seed stratification, seed planting, transplanting, and plant sales as we begin the next season. We’re looking forward to brainstorming to determine how to keep the project vigorous. In the meantime, interested parties should be marking native plants for seed collection and making certain to correctly identify the marked plants. More on seed collection to come in the next newsletter.
Anna Heckman, Class of 2020-Fayetteville, has started a Turtle rescue!!
It's that time of year! Turtles are out and about: looking for mates, making babies, controlling the insect population, distributing seeds in their feces, eating and removing carrion, and generally maintaining the ecosystem. Unfortunately, they also face a lot of challenges today. In the U.S., this mainly includes road mortality, collection for pets, painting of shells, humans moving them to a new area, and illegal poaching.
Turtles need our help!
So what can you do?
1. Safely help them cross the road, but don't relocate them -- UNLESS you've found them in a busy area, in which case, collect the turtle and contact a local rehabilitation center for relocation advice.
2. If you find an injured turtle, call one of the local rehabilitation centers:
*Turtle Shire Rehabilitation Center, located in Fayetteville - Anna Heckmann, 479-301-1074
*Northwest Arkansas Turtle Rehabilitation Center, located in Bella Vista - Joyce Hicks, 972-571-8247
3. Educate other people: let them know not to paint turtle shells or collect wild turtles for pets. Turtles need their shells to absorb sunlight to prevent metabolic bone diseases.
Together, we can help the turtle population thrive!
ANHC - Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
Notes from Nature Herbarium Specimen Label Transcription:
ANHC sponsors the Plants of Arkansas project on the online citizen science data transcription platform Notes from Nature for transcription of herbarium specimen labels for Arkansas plants. Herbarium specimens are plants that have been pressed and dried flat with information about the plant on a corresponding label. Herbarium specimens serve as documentation and as a basis for future scientific study. Transcription is the process of typing the label information into a standardized database. Through transcription, volunteers learn about plants and the natural history of Arkansas at their own pace while providing the data in a digital format that can be more readily used by researchers, students, land managers, and interested members of the public. This work can be done by anyone, anywhere with a computer and internet connection. The project can be found at this website:https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/md68135/notes-from-nature-plants-of-arkansas
. Training is recommended but not required. There is a built-in tutorial on the web platform. Or contact Diana for a
Word document tutorial (email below).
Georeferencing Herbarium Specimens:
The ANHC sponsors volunteers to study Arkansas geography and find GPS coordinates for herbarium specimens based on locality descriptions. Herbarium specimens serve as documentation and as a basis for future scientific study. This online activity requires patience, attention to detail, and a joy in solving mysteries and/or a love of maps. Georeferencing can be completed anytime, anywhere with a computer and internet connection, but a two-part training session is required. C
heck out a video by the program developer by clicking on the following link and scrolling to Video Tutorials at the bottom: http://www.geo-locate.org/community/default.html
iNaturalist Observations at Natural Areas:
A great primer on the use of iNaturalist can be found HERE
which is from KUAF interview with Jennifer Ogle (NWAMN has worked with Jennifer before with Notes From Nature and the Ozark Society Foundation).
BWA - Beaver Watershed Alliance
Open to NWAMN members only! Join us for a citizen science project to celebrate Lakes Appreciation Month. We will be measuring water clarity on lakes in Beaver Lake watershed.
This is a great opportunity to enjoy our lakes and learn a new skill. All experience levels welcome. You must be able to unload and load your own boat and equipment. We will provide water testing equipment. Masks required during check-in and set-up. We will have extras available.
Space is limited!
Email Carrie Byron with questions and to RSVP: email@example.com.
July 9, 2:00 pm - Lake Atalanta, Rogers
July 15, 2:00 pm - Lake Sequoyah, Fayetteville
July 18, 10:00 am - Hindsville Lake, Hindsville
BGO - Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks has various volunteer opportunities and would love your help! Tuesday through Thursday (except the weeks of 7/6 and 7/13) we will have group work days from 9:00 am to 11:00 am with projects including mulching, pruning, and general garden maintenance. Volunteers can also come Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm to weed and/or deadhead independently. Please check in with Megan Lankford when you arrive and she will get you started, 417-499-3431.
We encourage you to bring your own tools and buckets. Masks are not required, but if not worn we ask that you stay at least 6 feet away from other volunteers, staff, and guests. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you soon!
Please contact Megan Lankford when you arrive for either opportunity at 417-499-3431 so she can get you started. Thank you!
The Devil's Den Volunteer Openings are:
1. Entry Monitor - Watch the door to make sure people are wearing masks and only 4 at a time in building.
2. Visitor Assistant - Answer visitor questions out on the trails and monitoring so people are not going where they shouldn't (i.e. caves) and are maintaining social distancing.
3. Trail Walkers - Pick up trash after the weekend.
4. Trail Maintenance - Help weed and work on trails. We have tools but they will need masks, gloves. Contact Terry for more info.
Trail work by Mike McMullin and Russell Richman at Devil's Den.
Photo by Ken Leonard.
1. The Birds of Lake Wedington
This is a two part project and includes a brochure and video. The brochure will be a one page, two sided, color, tri-fold describing the common birds of the Lake Wedington area. They are looking to NWAMN to do the content and design only. Any interpreters, birders or copywriters interested in this?
The second part is a YouTube video titled, “The Birds of Lake Wedington” and will be done by Alicia Meza and Dodie Angulo, Jr.. It will be about 5 minutes in length and will describe the bluebird box project that is currently being done there, as well as showcasing the other birds that can be seen at the lake. PS - they have eagles! We need someone who can help with content and videography.
If interested please contact:
They also need help monitoring the Bluebird boxes they have there. If you want to assist in box monitoring, please contact Alicia, this is ongoing until some time in August.
2. Interpretive Signage
There are a number of places throughout the park where interpretive signs are needed and a number of topics to be covered. These include: native plants, quail habitat, milkweed and monarchs, prairie/savannah restoration, invasive plants, Chinquapin restoration, riparian plantings, and the fish of Lake Wedington.
The signs are being paid for by the USFS and much of the content already exists, we need to fill in the gaps.
If interested please contact:
Kathy Mason 281-851-6446 firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Alarid 479-877-5123 email@example.com
Please contact the appropriate person for any projects you’re interested in, or if you have questions. There are other projects at Wedington as well so we need you and thank you for any assistance you can provide and remember that travel hours to and from a site count toward your certification!
Our first successful brood at Wedington! Photo by Alicia Meza
As you may know, the iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and its spectacular migration are in jeopardy. Their North American numbers have suffered a steep decline of approximately 90% over the past two decades, and in 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to protect the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (with a listing decision expected for December 2020). While there are many factors driving broad pollinator declines, one key cause for the reduction in pollinator populations is the loss of native habitat. As a result, NWAMN was approached by Sara Wittenberg of Project Wingspan to join forces to enhance the landscape across Arkansas as well as the Midwest and Great Lakes Region and support the conservation of this imperiled species.
Sara is looking for help in three areas:
- Seed Collection
- Land in which to collect seeds
- Possible locations to replant the seeds
1. Seed Collection
This is where I see the bulk of involvement with NWAMN
Two types of collectors needed:
1. Seed collectors
2. Team leads (kind of a Project Coordinator but there would be possible multiples of these depending on interest in NWAMN)
A. Scouting sites for collections (and timing them right!)
B. Communicating with and organizing their assigned team
C. Arranging collection events
D. Submitting information/data management
E. Arranging for seed drying and mailing them to the nursery
There is a training video for seed collection lasting about 1 hour and 45 minutes. And for Team Leaders the videos are approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Depending on the interest of each team they could collect once or twice or as often as they want to, depending on the season and seed availability and group enthusiam.
Locations will be announced later.
Start dates would be fluid depending seed.
Collection sites are in need! To qualify they have to have 1 of our target species, and it has to be in abundance of at least 50 individual plants and be of known provenance (of local ecotype). See chart below for list to target species.
To express interest in offering access to your land for seed collection, complete this survey: Land.
The minimum land requirement is 1 acre.
Rogers Butterfly Park
The remodeled Butterfly Park in downtown Rogers is halfway finished and Phyllis Stair is looking for volunteers to help water the plants at the park until they are established.
You could pick one day a week (or less if we get enough volunteers} and water whenever you can that day. It’s usually about 90 minutes time and the hoses are already there.
Phyllis will coordinate the schedule. The need to water should decrease as the plants get established, but right now is the critical time. Please call Phyllis Stair at 479-340-7939 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington County Extension Office
Sarah Spangler, a County Extension Agent is working on water quality in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River watersheds. She is looking to recruit volunteers to assemble, install, and then maintain monofilament recycling bins at Lake Fayetteville and Lake Wilson. This bins will allow those folks fishing on the lakes to properly dispose of their fishing line, keeping the area safer for waterfowl and cleaner for all of us.
She has the supplies and equipment to install the bins. Sarah needs a volunteer or group of volunteers to assemble the bins, install them, and then on a monthly basis (or possibly bi-monthly depending on the usage) remove the fishing line. She will collect the line and send it in to be recycled.
There will be 3 bins at Lake Fayetteville and 2 at Lake Wilson. They would be in place for one year, and then if they were being used regularly, they would potentially be taken over by the city.
County Extension Agent- Water Quality
Washington County Cooperative Extension Service
Bobby Childers of the SEAMN Chapter attended the NWAMN NIT classes. He is very happy to be a MN. He is showing off his name badge and shirt.
I have 3 acres that I have been trying to introduce more native diversity on; it was used for agriculture for decades prior to my acquisition.
I have been intending to send this pic; I received my shirt and badge awhile back. Thanks. I really appreciate the NWAMN chapter for fostering me.
Standing in front of a winged sumac, Rhus copallinum. Unfortunately, the source of it, a ditch bank, was just sprayed. It is a great pollinator magnet.
Now, working on becoming certified.
Welcome to AMN Bobby, glad to have you!
Washington County 2020 Graduate Karen Mueller submitted this photograph of her front yard.
I've been working on my small yard since buying my house 5 years ago. My goal is to squeeze out all grass and unwanted plants. I've put in both an above-ground herb garden and veggie garden and planted 3 native persimmon trees and a fig tree. I'm trying to plant more natives.
Thanks Master Naturalists for inspiring me to do more. I plan to put in a small pond/fountain for frogs and other critters! And I'm working on identifying Arkansas trees!!
Welcome aboard Karen!
Barn Owl Superstars
A Flock of Happy Collaborators
By Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
16 June 2020
A barn owl family is soon to be a family of video superstars — let's keep our fingers crossed — thanks to the efforts of Environmental Scientist Jeff Hickle and a flock of happy collaborators.
The Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists ‘closed the deal’ on June 9 with a generous three-thousand dollar grant to the Barn Owl Nest Project, joining the engineering firm Jacobs, the City of Fayetteville, and Dunk Fire & Security in this innovative collaboration.
“We're overjoyed to have everyone onboard and ready to go on a project that's as unique as you can imagine,” Mr. Hickle said. “The grant from the Master Naturalists and in-kind contributions from the other collaborators transforms an exciting idea into something very real and downright cool.”
All Natural Reality TV
Cool is the right word to define a project that promises 24-hour, G-rated, organic, and all natural reality TV, featuring a barn owl couple and their little ones — viewers can actually watch the live birth of little chicks emerging from their egg. Way cool!
The nest box will sit atop a 18-foot tower visible from the Woolsey Wet Prairie, a 44-acre wetland restoration project adjoining the City of Fayetteville's West Side Water Resource Recovery Facility.
Opening the Door to Education
“We're very happy about the collaborative effort and what that means to the success of this exciting project,” said Dave Leisure, President of the NWA Chapter of Arkansas Master Naturalists. “Collaboration means cooperation, and that shows that everyone involved is going in the same direction for northwest Arkansas. The Barn Owl Nest Project is going to open the door to education, not only at the physical location of the nest, but also via video to school children everywhere to teach them about the life cycle of the barn owl.”
Three Internet live-feed cameras provided by Dunk Fire & Security of Springdale will allow monitoring of the resident owl activities throughout the year, especially during brood seasons. Two of the cameras will be placed inside the nest box with a third showing activities on the outside of the nest. On location, visitors to Woolsey Wet Prairie will be able to view the nest box from a trail.
The live feed will likely find a home at more than one northwest Arkansas website — for sure on the website of NWA Master Naturalists, which will host the live feed as well as archived video of the most interesting aspects of the life of the resident barn owls.
A Source of Education and Inspiration
“The project will reach local and international audiences and very likely will inspire others to positively engage in the stewardship of natural beauty and wildlife to the full benefit of bird lovers, students, and researchers,” Mr. Hickle said.
“Construction and care of wild bird nest boxes is an ideal way of engaging in conservation of certain vulnerable bird species,” Mr. Hickle continued. “The project will promote citizen science and education. The barn owl is a cavity nesting species that presents several unique conservation, engagement, and educational opportunities.”
Mr. Hickle recently observed a barn owl in the vicinity of Woolsey Wet Prairie, so he is confident there's a very good chance the nest box will be inhabited — and that's why we're keeping our fingers crossed here at Crow's Cottage. If you are a barn owl and know how to read, please accept our invitation for free lodging as long as you care to stay. Just be patient. We're building you a very nice home that should be ready by September.
A Great Thing for Everyone
“Folks from all over the world will be viewing the live feed, and that fits perfectly into our mission,” Mr. Leisure said. “The barn owl project will be providing education, outreach, and service to the northwest Arkansas community. It's going to be a great thing for everyone.”
Mr. Hickle hopes the Barn Owl Nest Project will be ready to go by early autumn. By the way, Woolsey Wet Prairie is listed as Arkansas Audubon Important Bird Area Number 33.
Special Board Meeting
The NWAMN Board of Directors and some members of the Strategic Planning Committee met June 18th to discuss the Strategic Plan developed by the SP committee.
The Board voted unanimously to accept the plan. With acceptance of the plan ownership now "moves" to the Board. That means the Board will now form a committee to plan for the implementation of the Strategic Plan which will provide guidance for our Chapter through 2023.
The Board is looking for members to work on this committee which will directly impact EVERY NWAMN member and set our course for the future.
If you are interested in working on this 2023 Strategic Plan please contact any Board member (the list of Board members may be found at the bottom of this newsletter).
June Board Report
June 9, 2020 NWAMN Board Meeting held via ZOOM
Click HERE for the link to the Youtube video of the Board meeting.
There were more than $10,000 in Native Plant sales in May. (Another $5,600 in June which will be reflected in the July Board Report.)
Succession Planning - Leadership Continuity
Discussion was conducted regarding how to successfully transition to new board members. Presently there are no term limits or position descriptions. It is thought that these items need to be put in place in order to have orderly transitions to new board members.
It was agreed that the Board may look to all members for all positions on the Board. One does not need to be a current Board member in order to be considered for a position such as President Elect.
The following timeline was also agreed upon:
By August Board Meeting: Vacancies which will be open the following year.
By October Board Meeting: Slate of candidates interested in positions which will come open in 2021.
By November Chapter Meeting: Announcement of the candidates to the membership for election.
Lake Springdale Trailhead Project
Scott Biehle (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at UofA), the landscape architect, is in the process of designing the layout.
This is a major effort and will connect the Razorback Greenway to the AGFC Hunt Nature Center (mentioned earlier in the newsletter)
Barn Owl Box
The Board approved an amount not to exceed $3,000 for the cost of materials for the box detailed earlier in the newsletter.
Ozark Society Foundation
The Board also approved a Letter of Commitment in support of Jennifer Ogle and Theo Witsell's book about plants of the Ozark (an update) to be published in 2021.
Previously, the Board had approved a $2,500 grant for the Woolsey Farm Prairie Restoration Project. The original intended recipient of that grant has decided to not move forward with that project. As such, the Board approved the use of that grant money for this Ozark Society Foundation use.
2020 Board of Directors
Policies and Procedures
The Independence Edition - July 1, 2020