Lauren Bendiksen, 2019 –
I am excited that the Lightning Whelk is the Texas Master Naturalist Program 2022 Annual Re-Certification pin. I grew up in Dallas, and our family’s vacations to South Padre Island were definitely a jumping off point for my love of nature due to the excitement of searching for seashells. I became absolutely obsessed with seashells. My maternal grandparents also lived near the coast in Florida, so you can imagine my joy when we were able to visit them and go to the beach, allowing me additional options for collecting seashells.
I would spend hours holed up in my bedroom, identifying and labeling my collection using a not-very-good (by today’s standards) field guide. Lightning whelks were a true treasure in my collection. I loved the way they looked and as a weather-lover, appreciated their name, too. In 1987, the Texas Legislature declared that the Lightning Whelk the official state shell of Texas. I don’t remember how I learned that tidbit of information, but I definitely knew this was a fact. Imagine my delight when on a Texas history test in 7th or 8th grade, given by Coach J at my Richardson ISD junior high, the bonus question on the test was “What is the state seashell of Texas?” I knew the answer! I excitedly wrote down “Lightning Whelk” knowing I had those bonus points in the bag. Imagine my disappointment when my test was returned days later to find that Coach J didn’t give me my bonus points, writing on my test that it was a trick question because there was no state seashell of Texas. Being the shy, people-pleasing, conflict-adverse child that I was, I just accepted the comment and didn’t pursue arguing for my bonus points. To this day I’m guessing that Coach J has never discovered that I was right and his “trick” bonus question actually wasn’t a trick.
Fast forward to 2022, and earning the 2022 Lightning Whelk Re-Certification pin will be that much more delightful. One of my goals this year is to head to the Texas coast so I can find one of these gems on the seashore again. Should I send Coach J a picture of me with my pin when I earn it?