Duane Mortenson, 2018
I grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin, so I spent my youth outside most every day. It was a beautiful area for hiking, camping, canoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. For my career I decided to go into electrical engineering and I moved to Texas. It was quit the change to swap endless days outside for an inside cubicle behind a computer, the hills and trees of Wisconsin for flat prairie land. I did spend as much time outside as I could but it wasn’t the same.
When I approached retirement, I started looking for ways to get back outside, to connect with my adopted outdoors and to get involved in something that could make a difference. A big growth was realizing that having no trees was actually a good thing. In Wisconsin when we re-wild an area, trees are planted. It took quite a while for me to understand the Blackland Prairie. My appreciation was sparked listening to two of my kids coming home from Austin College in Sherman with them bringing back stories of prairie restoration as part of environmental science. It agreed with what I was seeing under our trees in our yard where the soil was bare and hard as a rock. I could see how grassland would be so much better.
I started researching prairies within driving distance that I might get connected with when I retired and came across Clymer Meadow. It was part of that internet search where I found out about the master naturalist program and I decided to attend some meetings. It seemed like a good fit and I joined the class of 2018. I got exposure to the prairie restoration in Wylie and Erwin Park under the capable direction of Dave Powell. When the group opened up opportunities in Clymer Meadow, I couldn’t resist getting involved up there.
What I’ve appreciated the most getting involved with prairie restoration, the garden at the Allen Senior Center and the garden at Heritage Farm is just how complex prairie ecosystems really are. For me, the appreciation resonates when I get right into the middle of it, preferably on hands and knees with my camera.
I’ve enjoyed photography for most of my life and I’ve re-kindled that passion. There is a wonderful synergy between photography techniques and getting to know prairie habitat down to the macro level and out to the wide-open sky. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. It is humbling and exhilarating at the same time.
Duane has been a major contributor to the content on our chapter’s website. His last post for 2021 was a phenomenal post with high quality photos that makes any weekend hiker a pro at setting out on the Lavon Lake Trinity Trail. Click on Graphic Below for more.– Michelle, BPTMN Webmaster