Tom Shackelford, 2018 and Past President (2020-2021)
“We must learn our limits
We are all something,
But none of us are everything”Blaise Pascal
I was born in Great Bend, Kansas and grew up farming and raising cattle along the Santa Fe Trail on land south of the Arkansas River, from Fort Larned to Dodge City. I did not realize it at the time but our home and the pasture lands where we grazed cattle were undeveloped, never used for agriculture beyond grazing and composed of western wheatgrass, blue grama, prairie three awn, little blue stem – native mixed prairie lands. This was my “Playground.”
Fast forward to 1974. My wife and I moved to Dallas, and in 2016 to McKinney. I retired from a career in retail and wholesale grocery and restaurant supply. I now had the time to return to my rootsand spend more time pursuing lifelong interests in travel, natural areas, camping, hunting, and photography. The many opportunities in the Texas Master Naturalist Program and Blackland Prairie Chapter were the perfect tools to assist with this endeavor.
I am a generalist and when asked – How did you reach 2500 hours – my initial thought was – “Having fun and Enjoying myself.” This response was flippant, so I researched this further- My path started February 11, 2018. I completed the TMN class and certified in May. Later in 2018 I became involved in budgeting for Education to assist the Education director, who experienced some health issues. This led to a request to join the Board as VH/AT director in 2019. I accepted and also stayed on the education committee until asked to consider becoming a candidate for President in 2020 and 2021. I was elected and as everyone knows COVID brought many changes to procedures and methods during those two years. The administrative duties can be time consuming, but I was still able to find time to volunteer at the Heard in various areas and as project leader for The Clymer Project at multiple remnant prairies. This satisfied my desire to remain active in nature and natural areas. In 2022 my responsibilities on the Board are now more advisory, and I have time to focus on my varied interests at the Clymer Project, The Heard, and Erwin Park. Additionally, there is now time for “drop-ins” at other opportunities that are also of interest to me, and for broadening my knowledge by taking advantage of the huge number of AT opportunities available.
I would like to thank the entire Chapter for the privilege of serving as President in 2020 & 2021.
I would also thank the Program and State Leadership for the light they shine on the importance of education, outreach, and service for Nature in Texas.
I started this piece this with a quote from a favorite author, Blaise Pascal 1623-1662. He was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, writer, and theologian. I will close with a second quote from him.
“In Faith – there is enough light for
those who want to believe and
Enough shadows to blind those who don’t”Blaise Pascal
The TMN program is a source of light helping eliminate some of the shadows.