Donna Cole and Sally Evans, Class of 2004 – Charter Members
“In the beginning….” Donna Cole and Mary Lou Cole (unrelated) of the North Texas Master Naturalists Chapter were working the registration table at a Landowner’s Workshop at TAMU on Coit Road in Dallas during the late spring of 2005. LeRoy Thompson, a game warden for the TPWD, was in attendance and began talking with the ladies. During the conversation, he asked why there was no Collin County chapter of MN as there were so many members in the NTMN chapter from that county. The reply was that to start a new chapter, new chapter sponsors were needed from TPWD and AgriLife.
“Can a game warden be a sponsor?” he asked. Thus, an idea was born!
The summer was spent in discussions among chapter members, investigations into what would be needed, lists of required procedures, and finding potential chapter members willing to take on this task. In September, a meeting was held in Plano at a La Madeleine’s Restaurant. In attendance were:
LeRoy Thompson, TPWD game warden, and the first sponsor.
Donna Cole, from The Colony and the first acting President.
Sharon Meines, from east Plano, and Mary Lou Cole, far north Dallas in Collin County, did all sorts of secretarial work and kept records.
Ed Ellerbe of North Plano became the 501c3 “guy.”
Tara Still of Hunt County became the first acting Vice President.
Sally Evans of far north Dallas (Collin County) became the first education chair.
By the time a second meeting was held at the beginning of October, LeRoy had found a site for meetings and classes at a fire station in Allen close to Central Expressway. In addition, Rick Maxwell of the AgriLife office agreed to be our second sponsor and provide office support. The fledgling (pun intended) Blackland Prairie Raptor Center provided many projects for volunteer hours, and several of their workers were eager to be in our first class. Sally had a twelve-week educational plan set up, potential speakers listed, and several field trip suggestions. It was decided then that it would be possible to begin classes the following February. Advertising ideas were discussed and put into motion almost immediately.
We did hold our first class that February of 2006, and with over twenty new members we could qualify for ‘chapterhood’ and became THE BLACKLAND PRAIRIE CHAPTER OF THE TEXAS MASTER NATURALISTS!
Since that time, we have had capacity classes, and awards, become known throughout the county for our projects and volunteer work, and been participants in the state conferences both as attendees and as presenters. Our chapter is a warm, vibrant community. We now have meetings at the Heard Museum in McKinney and have attendees both in person and virtually. We were able to continue our classes through the pandemic through virtual conferencing. We are proud to be a part of such a strong state chapter and help celebrate their twenty-fifth year. May we all be able to continue nurturing our natural landscape and conserving our natural resources for the betterment of our health and wealth and the enrichment of the lives of our descendants.