Grassroots Nature-Education NPO Introduces Fresh Faces in Fourth Year of Operation
BATON ROUGE, LA--June 13, 2019. Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater Baton Rouge (LMNGBR), a Baton Rouge 501(c)3 organization that primarily operates a nature education program for adults, today announces a transition of leadership in its president and officers.
The new leader of the organization will be John Nettles, a Baton Rouge-area native and local marketing professional. Nettles has been with the organization nearly since its inception, and has lead several successful technology and marketing initiatives prior to being elected.
"There are numerous Master Naturalist organizations in most every state in the nation," says Nettles. "A goal I have will be to make the young Baton Rouge chapter a national leader in innovation among the chapters."
Nettles says that he believes that there is an understated interest in nature in the Baton Rouge area, which is rich in biodiversity. He says he wants to digitally connect with isolated nature enthusiasts throughout the region and introduce them to the program.
Nettles will be replacing past president Katherine Gividen, who received the prestigious Governor's Award for Conservationist of the Year in 2019, partly because of her volunteer work with LMNGBR.
Other new officers include:
Also elected was a new At-Large Executive Committee, including:
Since its inception in 2015, LMNGBR has produced over a hundred master naturalists, generated hundreds of volunteer service hours, and forged partnerships with most local conservation organizations. The organization is privately funded by admission fees and member dues.
The Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater Baton Rouge (LMNGBR) is a chapter of the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association focusing on the natural and cultural history of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes. Founded in the Summer 2015 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, LMNGBR provides an educational program for participants to obtain status as a Certified Master Naturalist dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities.
To learn more about applying for the Master Naturalist course, visit www.lmngbr.org/apply-now.
An early Monarch migration has been reported for 2019. Citizen science is a very important part of data-gathering for research and conservation. You can help with this effort by reporting your Monarch butterfly sightings on the Journey North website.
What is that?!!! How in the world??!!
I'm sure we've all had moments when we saw some amazing natural phenomenon, followed by the curiosity and wonder flooding our brain. So what do we do when this happens? How many people grab their smart phones or run to the laptop? Or even grab a field guide and then go even further to research at the library? I'll admit, I've done it too! The tools and ease of technology can be pretty addictive. And don't get me wrong, technology and textbooks are great resources to lean on when you're so anxious to have answers. But have you ever just thought, maybe I'll hang out and watch a little longer to see what happens next? As convenient as today's tools are, I'm just one of those people who don't like to replace the actual hands on, witness with my own eyes kind of education. Knowledge that becomes an experience and moments in nature that become memories.
In our modern world, with so many resources at our fingertips, more people truly need to stop and smell the flowers. If they did take five to ten minutes, can you imagine what they would actually observe? Not only would they see beautiful colors and smell delightful fragrances, but if they really took the time to see what is there, they would realize something miraculous is going on within the environment. The life that sits before them. The relationships and organisms that coexist with this simple flower. It is so lovely and delicate, yet complicated and essential. To study a bud blooming over a period of days, then watch the sweet chemistry between blossom and bee as they rely on one another to thrive and prosper. To inch ever so slowly for a better look, until noticing the enlarged sacks of pollen on the bee's legs. But for me, it is not only the act of noticing this solitary union, yet enveloping myself in the surroundings to awaken all of my senses. Feeling the soft breeze brush against my face while watching as the autumn leaves dance. Or the raindrops falling through the branches, then being absorbed by the thirsty landscape. Hearing the chirping of crickets and birds, and the frantic buzzing of pollinators at work. All of these wonderful sensations enriching my perception and comprehension of the natural world. Mother Nature is like driving down a highway. She reveals one sign, that leads to another, and another. If we look closely at the details, she exposes her secrets.
So what am I trying to say here? Being a naturalist means getting back to the basics and using our sensibility and intuition. Of course using common sense and safety are a priority, but making time to enjoy the outdoors should also be a priority. Unplug and take in the fresh air. Take a child outside, show them something new and watch the curiosity light up their face. Let your inner child be wild and free to explore. Write down hundreds of scientific questions that you couldn't solve on your own and do the research part later. Unfortunately we can't always spend hours at a time doing this, but when we do, the biodiversity we encounter and analyze give us a greater understanding and appreciation for our ecosystems that books and iPads can't give us.
As for me, I would love to live and work outdoors. Always venturing to seek, marvel and investigate what is happening around me, the way early explorers and scientists did. After all, there are more discoveries waiting to be unearthed!
As naturalists and nature lovers we find ourselves drawn to all living things. We adore, and more importantly respect just about every organism in our natural world. So what happens when we are faced with the dilemma of protecting our native species who have become threatened by an invader. A similar outlook may come into play when the situation of overpopulation arises, and hunting or trapping becomes a necessity. Such as in the case of the nutria.
To some, the thought of destroying a beautiful plant or terminating the life of an animal is incomprehensible and heart wrenching. Why and how could anyone be so cruel, some might ask? That tree is magnificent, shady, and the birds and critters love it.... why would you want to cut it down? That cute, little pig is just minding its business... it has a heart and feelings. Why should it be euthanized? Some of us say, oh sure, if I were ever in the position I would be able to do what is best for the greater good of our natural flora and fauna.
So, say you happen upon this invasive or overpopulated species, and now the moment of truth. Do you really have the guts, or the heart, to do this???? Well guess what, it should be acceptable either way. We should not feel pressured by others and we should not judge those who are put in this predicament. But we
should take action and get a handle on things none the less. After all, we still have a job to do as naturalists, to help restore balance and order in our untamed environment. Some of the unbalance is due to humans in the first place. Should we have the need, there are professionals and probably acquaintances who would be willing to handle the situation knowledgeably and ethically. We should all be able to work together at any task, with respect and without conviction, when it comes to matters of the heart and personal morality. Don't be afraid to ask for help or lend a hand. We're all here to enjoy the extraordinary outdoors and keep it majestic!
Photographs (c) Erin Bryan, used with permission.
LMNGBR President, Katherine Gividen, was recently interviewed on the Baton Rouge Sierra Club's Environmental Update radio show on WHYR Community Radio 96.9 FM. They talk about various aspects of the Master Naturalist program, back yard nature, cool places to visit and more. Even Jane Seymour (A.K.A. Jane Patterson) gets a mention! :)