Linda Nixon, 2018
Just prior to the start of the TMN 2022 Annual Meeting (Meeting) in Houston Texas, we decided to ask attendees, both those in person and those online, to write about their experiences so we could share them with BPTMN members who did not attend this event. We hope you will enjoy their musings and that what you read will inspire you to participate in a future Annual Meeting.
A total of 18 BPTMN members attended the 2022 Meeting at the Omni Hotel in Houston Texas on October 20-23, 2022. Some traveled to Houston to attend in-person. Some stayed home and participated virtually.
Lisa and Rick Travis (Class of 2018) attended in-person and pronounced it a fantastic experience! They enjoyed several engaging talks and field sessions, saw old friends, and made new friends with fellow Master Naturalists from other chapters, went mothing (twice!!!) with the one-and-only Sam Kieschnick, and were inspired by excellent keynote speakers at the lunches and dinners.
Linda Nixon and Janice James (Class of 2018) were virtual attendees. Both felt not having to travel to Houston or pay to stay at the hotel while being able to stay home to attend to other responsibilities, were some of the pros of this option.
Tasha Patterson (Class of 2020) attended in-person and had the opportunity to bunk with one of her very best friends that also happens to be a Master Naturalist from a different chapter.
Here are some of their favorite experiences from the 2022 Meeting.
Tasha said, “It’s really hard to pick my favorite activity or part of the conference. I went on 4 field trips and took one class – each one better than the next. My favorite part was sitting at the table at meals with random people and asking them what they did that day or what they were scheduled to do. I learned as much from networking with other TMNs at mealtime as I did from scheduled Advanced Training time.”
Tasha spent “12 hours over 2 days at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center with their professional staff and volunteers learning about Monarch tagging, making trail guiding more fun, and plant propagation. It was a dreamy experience and I have a love for that place that will never end. I saw more armadillos while I was there than I have collectively in my whole life.”
Janice and Linda, whose access was limited to those classes and presentations that were available online, each had their favorite picks. Janice had two favorite classes, Sam Kieschnick’s “Mow Foe” presentation (AKA “Convincing a Park to Reduce Mowing”) and Tiana Homayoun’s iNaturalist 301 class. Linda participated in “Here an App, There an App: Getting the Most from Each for Community Science” presented by TPWD’s Craig Hensley. Despite being a user of many of the apps (iNaturalist, SEEK, eBird, and Merlin Bird ID) Linda still learned a lot! Both Janice and Linda were impressed by Lynne and Jim Weber from the TMN Capital Area Chapter whose “Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies and Moths” presentation was beautifully organized, extremely detailed and enhanced with great photographs.
Linda really enjoyed being able to watch the keynote presentations online. Her absolute favorite presentation was the surprise appearance by Texas Master Naturalist in Space, NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren.
Rick and Lisa also cited Kjell’s visit as one of the highlights of the conference. Here’s how Rick described it, “Texas Master Nastronaut (I made up that name…it’s catchy, and fitting) Commander Kjell Lindgren, who had just splashed down a week prior from his six-month mission to the International Space Station, made a surprise appearance on Friday night. After acknowledging he was still recovering from the long mission and his legs were still somewhat wobbly, he spent an hour sharing his experiences in orbit, his impressions of earth as seen from space, and how his unique viewing of our planet shapes his philosophy as a Texas Master Naturalist. After his talk he spent another hour+ talking to attendees after the dinner concluded.”
One thing all Meeting attendees, both in-person and virtual, agree on is that YOU should consider attending the next Meeting!
The next gathering of Texas Master Naturalists will be in McAllen, TX on October Oct 11-15, 2023. This is going to be a special conference. The location and slightly earlier dates scheduled for this conference were selected to coincide with an annular solar eclipse, which will pass right over McAllen mid-day Saturday during the conference!
An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the Sun’s center, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” around the Moon. This type of solar eclipse is very uncommon.
Rick stated he is “personally extremely excited about the 2023 conference, as the Rio Grande valley area exhibits exceedingly high levels of plant and animal diversity, we’ll be there during the fall bird and monarch migrations, and we’ll get to see an annular solar eclipse!”