Deborah Canterbury, 2014
It is wonderful to know about the continuing individual involvements of our members that leads to milestone status. Now and then a member’s response says it all about what turns a Chapter into a tribe. Ernie Stokley’s musings sort of reflect the reasons why every person who stays with the chapter. The primary mission is to teach in order to arm every student with tools to go out and stamp out ignorance and become involved in their communities. Staying a chapter member is a choice. I like to think it is based on putting that mission first as we come together as, well, a tribe working together for the good of the whole. Enjoy Ernie Stokley’s reflection on becoming a master naturalist and what he loves to do.
Ernie Stokley – Class of 2015
Well, I came to Texas in 1959 to work at TI after graduating from Miss. State in engineering. As a typical small town southern boy, I hunted and fished and tromped the woods my entire youth. In those days I was mostly interested in shooting things, unfortunately, but once I moved to the big city, Big D, I gave all of that up except for an occasional fishing excursion. In 1990 we moved back east for 20 years when I took a job in Alabama, and after my wife and I retired there, we returned to Texas in 2011. I had an old friend over for re-acquaintance after we moved back, and she told me about the Texas Master Naturalist program.
I was looking for a way to reconnect with the natural world, because I walked in parks and went to Hagerman Wildlife Refuge with friends every so often. I was curious to know more about the geology, the plants, animals, and other flora and fauna in north Texas. So, I signed up with the North Texas chapter and went through the training in 2015, I think it was. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but did not enjoy the drive to the NTMN meetings. We seem to live exactly between the North Texas Chapter, the Blackland Prairie and Timbers Chapter, and the Denton Chapter! So, I decided it was easier to get to McKinney than to the NTMN location, and I transferred, I think, in 2016. I’ve been happy to be with the BPTMN group ever since.
I have been a birder since 1990 or so, but I have enjoyed learning more about the plants and insects and more about the geology of North Texas from so many knowledgeable members of the chapter, who have “taken me under their wing,” so to speak. So many smart and patient people in BPTMN!!
As my age continues to climb I have had to back off of some of the manual labor VH projects, but am still finding ways to contribute and in some cases making my own VH opportunities closer to home. For example, I have contacted the Richardson Parks group and am engaged in a signage project with them to put up signage on some of the trees in the Spring Creek Nature Area at the corner of Renner and Plano Road. Recently, Rick and Lisa Travis have led a plant survey there and I was able to join for part of the walks, giving me a better overview of what plants are in that Park.
It’s all a lot of fun and it keeps me off the streets, as they say. But, I miss the eyeball-to-eyeball stuff with the group. I’m really sick of this bug!
Oh, I still volunteer for butterfly pinning and still occasionally lead kids at the Heard. . I have gotten a gig at a middle school over in Rockwall County to give my cosmology presentation, modified for festering young minds. That was fun. The ones that didn’t fall asleep enjoyed it, I think! I would love to do more of that, but don’t have a way to “advertise” it. Probably should tell Linda. I used to do bird counts but have backed off of that because these insane birders want to meet at 5:30 or some ungodly hour, so I just do my own birding mostly (not VH credit there!).
In the past I helped Melanie in the butterfly garden area but that got to be too much for me. I have also worked over at the Farmstead in Plano installing prairie grass.
You did ask me, right?