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Nature's Crossroads: Newsletter of the Alamo Area Master Naturalist,
June 2021

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Editor's note:  After a lot of planning, our chapter is unveiling the first phase of its Junior Master Naturalist Program. See the article in our Volunteering section for an exciting way to get involved. See you on the trail! - Krin Van Tatenhove, Class 45
Next AAMN Board Meeting: This will be a Zoom meeting on June 8, 2021. Please note: immediately afterwards will be our "after board meeting" AT entitled “An Innovative Beaver Dam Pilot Project to Reduce Erosion Issues in the Medina River Natural Area," presented by Minna Paul and Joshua Spencer. See listing under AT Opportunities below.
     A nonprofit needs regular input from its members, so if you have a concern or suggestion, contact one of our current Board Members.
Here is the list.

A Message From Our President, Gary Poole

          After years spent creating, developing and managing the Butterfly Learning Center (BLC) at Phil Hardberger Park, Drake White is stepping down as the director. The BLC is a project of the Alamo Chapter and is an incredible ecological and educational gem thanks to Drake’s tireless and determined efforts over the years. All of us owe her a debt of gratitude for the discipline, imagination and love she showed in building this space.
     While we will certainly miss Drake’s presence and guiding hand, her departure has created an opportunity for new volunteers to step into her leadership role at the BLC and continue this important work. I am hopeful that some of you reading this will step up and take advantage of this situation.
     If you haven’t volunteered at the Butterfly Learning Center, you may well be wondering what it is. The BLC is located on the Voelcker Homestead on the north side of Hardberger Park and contains native plants chosen for their value to many species of butterflies. Some of the plants are nectar plants on which butterflies feed and others are larval plants on which they lay eggs and feed as caterpillars. Its mission includes the preservation of native habitat, the conservation of pollinators, and the education of adults and children on the life cycle of butterflies.
     The breadth of its mission makes the BLC a unique ecological learning center in Bexar County. You can see why maintaining this space should be important to all Bexar County Master Naturalists.
     And this is where you come in. We are looking for Master Naturalists who are interested in taking a leadership role at the BLC. There are three leadership tasks that need to be managed: organizing volunteers, choosing and maintaining appropriate plants, and conducting educational programs. Ideally, multiple people can share these roles with the result that no one feels too great a burden of work. No one person should have to do it all.
     Bexar County needs a place like this! If this important work sounds like something you would enjoy, please reach out to me at
     On another note, Project WILD coordinator, Kiki Corry, will be offering the Aquatic WILD training on July 28 and August 4 from 6 to 8 pm. The fee is $35/person and the training consists of two 2-hour online sessions and 2 hours of independent work. The fee includes the Aquatic WILD book and Texas-specific USB drive. However, for the training to be provided for our chapter a minimum of 5 registrants is required. If you would like more information about Project Aquatic WILD itself, you can find that here. If this class is something you might be interested in, please reach out to me at the above email for more information.

Service Awards - June 2021

An annual re-certification is awarded to a Master Naturalist who completes and submits 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training by December 31 to receive the current year’s pin or milestone award.  Pin designs are retired at the end of each year. The 2021 re-certification pin is the Sideoats Grama, the state grass of Texas.   
Listed below are the names and class numbers for those volunteers who have achieved these goals. Congratulations to all pin recipients!
Initial Certification Dragonfly  
Sal Scibetta 45
2021 Re-Certification - Sideoats Grama
Martha Cray 37
Arthur Dawes 39
Sherie Gee 37
Haeley Giambalvo 45
Linda Gindler 23
Wanda Huffins 43
Patsy Kuentz 27
Carolyn Lang 36
Charles Mims 40
Keeley Porter 30
John Prentice 23
David Richter 30
Julie Strepek 37
April Thomason 35
250 Hours Dragonfly  
Mac Everett 38
500 Hours Dragonfly  
Fred Loxsom 1

Articles/News/Updates - June 2021 

Calling All Texas Master Naturalists!
     Put it on your calendar now as we prepare for our 22nd Texas Master Naturalist Program Annual Meeting, an event to gather, learn and celebrate another year of the Texas Master Naturalist Program. We’re preparing this year’s meeting as a HYBRID Event – both online and in-person at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott in Irving, Texas. The event will be held the weekend of Thursday October 21st through Sunday the 24th, 2021 with plenty of activities throughout the event! Join us for a long weekend of greenspace adventures in the hideaways of our largest urban area in Texas.
     This year’s Annual Meeting will be hosted from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott near the center of the Dallas–Fort Worth urban metroplex. Ecologically, the host site part of the Blackland Prairie and Oakwoods and Prairies ecoregions and is just south of Grapevine Lake, within easy drive of numerous greenways and a short jog to the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area and Nature Preserve. Centered within the metroplex providing easy access to these numerous naturalist sites, the Annual Meeting is looking forward to showcasing the hidden gems of these sister cities and their surrounding Texas Master Naturalist chapters.
     What is a Hybrid Event? We are planning to host this year’s Annual Meeting in a hybrid format. Participants will be able to register to attend the event as either an ‘in person’ attendee or a ‘virtual’ attendee. Certain aspects of the event will be made available for each audience type. For example, we are planning field sessions to be hosted for in-person attendees with limited capacities of the hotel and all relevant health and safety precautions taken to follow protocols for the time. Virtual attendees will be able to participate in the majority of advanced training sessions as available for streaming. All virtual aspects of the meeting will be available for ‘in person’ attendees. The look and feel of this new hybrid event format is evolving and as we develop this year’s meeting and agenda, more of what each type of registration will have access to will be shared on our website.
     COVID Contingency - As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Master Naturalist Program will continue monitoring federal and state health and safety guidelines. We are committed to creating a valuable and engaging educational and networking experience, while also keeping the safety of our membership and speakers at the center of our event planning. Any decision that may change the final format of the Annual Meeting will be shared immediately and travel/registration considerations will be made alongside these updates.
     The Texas Master Naturalist Program maintains its responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of its members, conference attendees and the general population while still serving its mission to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas.
     Call for Proposals! We have opened our Call for Proposals. Please help us share this announcement and build our agenda with some of the fantastic speakers you’ve heard from recently or want to hear from at the Annual Meeting. Workshop presenters at the Annual Meeting will have the opportunity to inform and train TMN members from across the state on various natural resource topics providing more in-depth information than their initial core training and curriculum.  We’re encouraging presenters to make this an opportunity to enlist and train our program volunteers to assist their natural resource conservation and stewardship work or program. 
     Please have patience with us as we develop this year’s Annual Meeting in this NEW HYBRID format. We’re excited about the opportunities this meeting format presents for our program, accessibility to our Annual Meeting advanced training for our members across the state, and ways to continue to stay safe yet still get to take steps to gather for conservation and comradery.
     Information about the meeting will be shared via our website, social media and this email listserv as we pull this event together.
    For the 2021 Annual Meeting web page, click
Thanks & stay tuned!
Mary Pearl Meuth
Texas Master Naturalist Program Assistant State Coordinator
 Michelle M. Haggerty
Texas Master Naturalist State Program Coordinator

Fall 2021 Initial Training
          Our next initial training class (Class 46) will run from August 26 through November 11.  In-person classes will be held weekly on Thursdays from noon until 4:00pm at the Urban Ecology Center. Class applications will be accepted online from June 15 through July 13.  For more training class details and to apply, see
          Please share with interested family members and friends. For questions, contact Jeanette Geiman
Attention Photographers!
 Send your submissions to the Texas Master Naturalist Aquatic Plant Photo Contest! Click here to read all the details. Submitted photos will be used for educational materials including but not limited to online courses, programs, social media, the AquaPlant website, plus fact sheets. This will aid in understanding distributions of Texas aquatic plants and will help enhance program delivery in various regions of the state.  

All Things Birds: "Migratory Birds and Texas" (part 3 of 3)
By Patsy Inglet, AAMN Class 8, Bexar Audubon Society
Purple Martin
Nearctic-Neotropical Migrants: The species that comprise this group basically breed in temperate latitudes (the U.S. and Canada), but leave for the winter for tropical latitudes farther south (Central and South America and Caribbean Islands). Their migratory habits are part of their lives and heritage. Of the 338 species that are listed as Nearctic-Neotropical migrants in North America (North of Mexico), 98.5% of them have been recorded in Texas. That means that more than half of the birds documented in Texas are Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds. Texas is important to these migrants and these migrants are important to Texas. This series will focus on three species that stay to nest in Texas, this time, Purple Martins.
     Purple Martins (Progne subis)are the largest members of the swallow family in North America, and they have found a home in the hearts of so many Texans who welcome them as neighbors every spring and marvel at the aerial acrobatics they use to snap up flying insects. Martins are social nesters, and east of the Rocky Mountains they use human-provided housing almost exclusively for nesting. In hot Central Texas the plastic gourd accommodation attract a crowd.
     The Purple Martin Conservation Association gives martin landlord wannabes all the information they need to provide proper apartments for this species in decline that so many Texans love so much.
     At the end of their breeding season, Purple Martins gather in huge flocks to make their way to South America. Travis Audubon sponsors Purple Martin parties to highlight these long-distance migrants and the insect control services they offer us for free. For more information check out this

The Grass Shrimp: The 2007 TMN Service Pin
by Ian Townsend, AAMN Class #45
     Residing in the muddy-sandy bottoms of saltwater marshes and inshore shallow waters of the Gulf Coast, the Grass Shrimp is an omnivore, feeding on algae and seagrasses, while also being a vital decomposer as it consumes detritus [dead organic material]. The Grass Shrimp is a common species, not currently listed as threatened or endangered. It is an important species in its ecosystem and serves as an important link for energy transfer between trophic levels in the coastal food web. Due to its importance to the Texas Gulf Coast, the Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris), was selected as the 2007 Texas Master Naturalist service pin.
     Also known as the American prawn and marsh shrimp, this species has no commercial or recreational importance as food for humans. However, commercially important fishes and forage species such as spotted seatrout, red drum, and crabs consume them in large quantities. The Grass Shrimp burrow in the mud during the day and move up to the surface to feed at night. In addition to vulnerability to fish predators, the loss of habitat due to human activity such as dredging and bulkheading (building retaining walls) has caused a noticeable decrease in its abundance.
     Adult Grass Shrimp grow to less than two inches long and are generally transparent, which may help camouflage them. Using well-developed sense organs, Grass Shrimp can easily maneuver and swim in the water, but it is most frequently found crawling along the bottom. It grows by molting—shedding its exoskeleton and forming new, larger coverings. The Grass Shrimp breeds year-round in Texas where water temperatures are warmer. Mating occurs within seven hours of molting and their eggs are fertilized externally, hatching around 60 days later. This magnificent species is a vital part of our beloved Texas Gulf Coast.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Calling All San Antonio Parks Enthusiasts!
     For almost 25 years, the Alamo Area Master Naturalist Chapter has been connecting people to many different aspects of Nature.  We recognize the importance of exposing school-age children to environmental education experiences – regular positive interactions within Nature help children develop respect and a caring attitude for the environment.
     With this in mind, our AAMN Chapter formed the Youth Activities Committee in 2020 with one of the goals being to connect children to Nature through hands-on outdoor learning and exploration in their community.  We’ve been on temporary hold during the pandemic, but as restrictions are easing and life slowly returns to normal, we are ready to forge ahead!
     Catherine Sobieszczyk is one of our AAMN volunteers and a life-long educator who you may recognize from the Butterfly Learning Center and the 3rd Saturday programs at Phil Hardberger Park.  She is in the process of designing our very own Alamo Area Junior Master Naturalist Nature Passport. 
     This little booklet will feature 20 of the many wonderful parks located around San Antonio. Each highlighted park passport page will feature a specific concept (could be flora, fauna, water, geological, etc.) that is easily observable most of the year and the passport holder will be asked to answer questions, enjoy fun facts, and have pages for Nature journaling.
     How can you help? WE NEED YOU to volunteer as a “park liaison” for one of the target parks listed below.  By signing up as a dedicated liaison, you will help ensure the Nature Passport information for “your” park is correct and current. You’ll provide details about special features, seasonal changes, useful visitor info such as ADA accessibility, facilities, etc.  For those who would like to contribute to the passport on an occasional basis, we’d love you to share any park photographs and knowledge by uploading images and info to a Google Drive folder (a separate one for each park has been created).
     TO BECOME A NATURE PASSPORT TEAM MEMBER (and earn AAMN VSH) please contact Catherine via email at
Target SA Parks for Nature Passport
  1. Friedrich Wilderness Park
  2. Crownridge Canyon Park
  3. Medina River Natural Area
  4. Government Canyon SNA
  5. Comanche Lookout Park
  6. McAllister Park
  7. Phil Hardberger Park, East and West
  8. French Creek Park
  9. Cathedral Rock Park
  10. Camargo Park
  11. Pearsall Park
  12.  Martin Luther King Park
  13.   South Side Lions Park
  14. Acequia Park
  15.  Confluence Park
  16. Woodlawn Lake Park
  17.  Brackenridge Park (and the Witte outdoors area)
  18. Lady Bird Johnson
  19. San Pedro Springs Park
  20. Eisenhower Park
            There will be other opportunities coming soon for those interested in working with youth to inspire and nurture a love of Nature.
     The Junior Master Naturalist Program will include volunteers taking learning modules to more diverse areas of San Antonio, plus there will also be a youth-oriented curriculum offered for 8-12 year old children that will be modeled on the current TMN training for adults. For more information, please contact Keeley Porter at
Turtle Population Survey Converse North Park
Volunteer Service to help Texas Turtles
At Converse North Park, 8200 Spring Town Street, Converse, Texas
3-5 Volunteers are needed
This is a recurring event

Primary POC: Sal Scibetta,, (334) 546-0104
Secondary POC: Carl Franklin,, (817) 907-9944
     Texas Turtles is conducting a turtle population survey in Converse North Park. Members of Texas Turtles and other volunteers will participate in trapping, identifying, measuring, and marking turtles from the lake. The study will document the numbers of different species, try to determine population size, look for signs of population recruitment, and dietary analysis. As of now, the study will occur at irregular intervals based on weather with plans being at least once a week. Depending on success, traps will be set in the evening and collected in the morning and/or set in the morning and checked in the afternoon. Some turtles will be held a few days with project lead to collect fecal samples for dietary analysis. All turtles will be returned to the lake. Notice for the survey will be a few days before it occurs. This survey will be accomplished under a Scientific research permit from TPWD.
     In addition to conducting the survey, members will also engage the public in turtle identification, behavior, diet, and other natural history facts. They will also explain the process of survey and generally interact with the public about the turtle diversity in the lake and area. This study will be part of a larger investigation about the urban turtle populations throughout the state. The intent is to publish the results of the survey in a peer reviewed journal. The City of Converse through the Park Supervisor has expressed the desire to make this more of a public event with attendance from city leadership.
     Volunteers will assist with setting traps, handling turtles, measuring, documenting, marking, tagging and then releasing the turtles. Volunteers will also communicate with the public about the survey.
     Sal Scibetta is the Lead for this project. It is just in the initial trapping stages. Sal has yet to be see how many turtles he'll be able to collect, but the lake has a high density and diverse population. Anyone interested in participating can contact Sal via email and he can let them know which days the surveys will occur. He is initially planning on at least one a week. 

Headwaters at Incarnate Word
Volunteer Opportunities for June 2021
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
Morning sessions at 8:30AM -11:30 AM

POC Howard Homan  -
     What We Do: Invasive plants removal, trail maintenance, garden installation and maintenance, and prairie restoration. Join us to help improve/restore a 75-acre habitat corridor between Hwy 281 and Broadway Street in the heart of San Antonio. Our mission is Earth care.
     How to Sign Up: We work morning sessions at various locations, parking instructions change with the venue. To sign up or obtain more information contact
     June dates are Monday, June 14; Wednesdays: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Saturdays: June 5, 12, 19, 26. Contact us for specifics about our morning volunteer sessions, 8:30-11:30 AM.

Visitor Center Naturalists (PO – Public Outreach)
Serve in the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Visitor Center
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
7:00am – 11:00am or 11:00am – 3:00pm

POC for further details is Ms. Sara Beesley at
     Thank you to all our Visitor Center Naturalists!  We so appreciate the work you do on the weekends…it’s such a great help to the staff on duty!  We have two shifts on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 7 am-11 am and 11 am-3 pm  

River Aid SA World Environment Day Event (PO)

Confluence Park  - June 5th 2021 5:30 PM- 9:00 PM
Sponsored by  River Aid SA and  San Antonio River Foundation

     Need 3 volunteers at AAMN Table promoting AAMN / River Warriors program. If available and want to help contact Peter Joseph Hernandez If you’re an experienced kayaker and want help with future River Patrol Warriors in  river clean up and/or help  demo at event contact Cheryl Wallek at

Advanced Training Opportunities

Invasive Apple Snail Egg-Case Removal Training  (AT)
June 4 , 10:30 to 11:00 am  (online)
     The San Antonio River has faced a new threat to its ecosystem. Giant apple snails (Pomacea maculata) are native to South America and highly destructive invasive species throughout Texas. The snails are voracious eaters of aquatic plants that take away foodstuff and habitat from the river's native species. If you're interested in helping us manage this invasive species now found in our river, email
mpaul@sariverauthority,org. This is a great  opportunity for paddlers to help our environmental sciences team.

“An Innovative Beaver Dam Pilot Project to Reduce Erosion Issues in the Medina River Natural Area” (AT)
AAMN Chapter Meeting Presentation Online
Tuesday June 8, 2021
7:00pm – 8:00pm

Presented by Minna Paul and Joshua Spencer
Check the AAMN Calendar here for the link once published
     This Advanced Training presents a unique opportunity to learn about erosion issues on the San Antonio River Watershed from a River Authority Watershed Engineer. Master Naturalists may wish to join a volunteer erosion control team that will support our engineers in a pilot project to help prevent large scale erosion in the Medina River Natural Area.
     Minna Paul: Minna Paul currently serves as the Education and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the River Authority.
     Joshua Spencer: Joshua Spencer is a civil engineer who currently works at the San Antonio River Authority as a Watershed Engineer.

“Honeybees and Native Bees: Who's Who?” (AT)
Hosted by The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
Saturday, June 19, 2021
9:00am - 10:00am

Online – Facebook Live Event here
     Tune in to explore the difference between honeybees and native bees with local beekeeper Wendy Leonard. Wendy will explain the differences among different types of bees as well as the wider world of beekeeping.
     This event will be shared live via Facebook. No account is necessary to watch the program.

NSPOT- San Antonio Chapter Meeting and Presentation online (AT)
Meeting Time – 7:00 p.m., June 22th  2021
Log in at 6:45 pm (For slide quiz on Native Plants)

Topic –  “Vegetation Surveys and Low Impact Management Alternatives (Solarization) for KR Bluestem at the ABK State Natural Area.”
Presenter : Jose Rodolfo Valdez-Barillas
Assistant Professor, Biology Program, TAMU-SA
     Professor Valdez-Barillas will present results for early spring vegetation survey and share the protocols that have been initiated to document phenology and plant composition at Doobie Field at Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area. He will also present evidence for biocrust (cryptobiotic soil) and potential management implications for Doobie field, as well as describe the design for a planned solarization research study at ABKSNA.
     This presentation will be recorded and placed on the NPSOT
YouTube channel.
“From Emps to Kingbirds: Unraveling the Diversity of Flycatchers” (AT)
Hosted by Bexar Audubon Society
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
6:30pm – 7:30pm
Presented by Craig Hensley, Biologist, TPWD
For more info, click
This is Online – a Zoom meeting
Join Zoom Meeting here
Meeting ID: 896 5523 3745
Passcode: 917967
     Is it a Yellow-bellied or a Least? A Couch’s or a Tropical? The Tyrannidae are diverse and can be quite confounding. Join Craig Hensley for a look at the world of flycatchers. You’ll learn about their natural history and learn tips and tricks for identification, as well as the realities of limitations associated with field identification of a few.
     Craig Hensley, a lifelong naturalist and educator, is one of two Texas Nature Trackers Biologists with the Wildlife Diversity Program of Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. He is an avid birder, butterfly and wildflower enthusiast.

“Plant Party: The Lowdown on Invasives” (AT)
Sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
10:00am - 11:30am
This event is VIRTUAL
This is a FREE and informal event

Click here
     Topics covered will be: "Terms" of Invasion, What Makes Invasive Plants Invasive? and The Impact of Invasive Plants Biological Control: A Case Study The Influence of Invasive Plants on Pollinators.
     For more information: or or
“Go Native!  Natives for your Landscape” (AT)
Hosted by Native Plant Society’s San Antonio Chapter and The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
Saturday, June 26, 2021
8:00am – 9:00am

Online – Facebook Live Event, click here
     Joan Miller assisted by NPSOT-SA member Drake White.  Master Naturalists will learn how to use common natives found in the park in your own landscape and how butterflies and insects benefit. 
here for a full description. This online virtual walk takes place in Phil Hardberger Park hosted by The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.  This event will be shared live via Facebook. No account is necessary to watch the program.
     Contact Martha Steele
( for additional information.

Quote of the Month

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear.
 - President Joseph R. Biden


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Alamo Area Texas Master Naturalist · PO Box 380801 · San Antonio, TX 78268 · USA

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