Dr. Bette Kauffman's innovative use of iNaturalist.org for our Rendezvous 2021 Scavenger Hunt simultaneously shows that a) the iNaturalist platform is very well-suited to such purpose, b) that the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association is operating at the cutting edge of applied information technology, and c) that the southern areas contributed the most observations! Well done, Bette; and well done everybody who participated in what turned out to a be a dynamic and fun project that also has considerable Citizen Science value.
The target list was compiled by a committee consisting of Kauffman, Kimmie and Charles Paxton. As such these people couldn't take part because they had prior knowledge of the target flora and fauna, all were attainable except for the Chanterelle fungi (Genus Cantharellus) and the Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus). This year has been cool and it seems they are not out yet, at least where we have been looking. The list included several invasive species.
In her closing speech, Dr. Kauffman gave a good overview of the activity, declared the Southern chapters to have carried the day, and thanked all the participants: the 31 observers and 160 Identifiers. She noted that there were 120 species identified out of a total of 641 observations with Anolis carolinensis, the most observed species with 25 recorded!
It was a hard-fought contest with a close finish! Karen Pinsonat of Greater Baton Rouge chapter attained a fabulous first place by observing and recording 29 of the 35 target items on the list, with 26 of them confirmed to 'Research Grade' status. This was especially good considering that she didn't play the Anhinga 'wild card'.
Tres Fisher of GNLO, came in a very close second with 27 target items including the wild card. He actually recorded the single greatest number of observations of any type, a formidable count of 73! This man's going to count in the Nature Cities Challenge! I'm sure that they all will!
Kristen Melton, also of GNLO, came a very close third with 26 items including the wild card and 20 of them were research grade.
Honorable mentions were made of Amber King of GBR with 25 observations, 21 being research grade! Also of Barbara Morris who also made a high 25, with 20 of them being research grade!
Dr. Kauffman praised them highly and praised and thanked all of us who took part.
View the wrap-up video of the LMNA Scavenger Hunt here.
She has provided the powerpoint below as a pdf
Dr. Kauffman, who also serves as President of the Northeast chapter, announced the final results of the LMNA Scavenger Hunt (View LMNA Scavenger Hunt on iNaturalist.org). This was possibly the first time ever that the iNaturalist Citizen Science platform has been used for a scavenger hunt and it proved highly suitable! It was a pretty good list overall with a very useful addition of a wild-card Anhinga, but the Chanterelles aren't out yet. The vast majority of the contributions were from the South with some from the Northwest. The overall winner was Karen Pinsonat from GBR with 29 observations from the target list, 22 of them were confirmed research grade before the deadline, so that was fantastic!
Secondly, LMNA Communications Officer, Charles Paxton wrapped up the annual photo and video contests and announced the winners, showing off the fine photographs that won by popular vote. This year there were 34 entries altogether, 21 amateur and 12 professional, in five categories: 8 each in Artistic and Wildlife, 9 in Nature in close-up, 7 in Habitat, and 2 in Naturalist. Together with the exemplars this makes a total of 39 images that our chapters will be able to use to help promote our group and its activities, so thank you all who have contributed images and also by voting. The images will appear here in a gallery and will be accessible from an LMNA image archive. There were also three video entries in two categories, 2 in Critters in action and 1 in Habitat. These excellent entries were the first ever for us because this is the first year for an LMNA video contest. The high interest in the Artistic category suggest that there is definitely scope for an Original Art contest too!
On behalf of the LMNA, Dr. Kauffman then congratulated the 2021 Caroline Dormon Outstanding Louisiana Master Naturalist of the Year, Bill Fontenot. Described by Dr. Thomas as "an all-round excellent Human being", Bill features in the above-linked video wearing his prize LMNA shirt. Dr. Thomas delivered his shirt and engraved trophy a few days before the award ceremony. In his forthright and moving award acceptance speech, Fontenot describes key points in his life and career along with his connection to Caroline Dormon, answers questions from the audience and comes across as a modest and down-to-Earth, but highly impactful Restoration Ecologist with a long and illustrious career as Conservation Biologist and environmental educator/mentor, determined to do his individual best to confront the very depressing state of eco-crisis that confronted him as a journalist. His wife encouraged him to channel his concern and anger at the loss of biodiversity into conservation action. This he has done very effectively, impacting thousands of lives for well over twenty years! Amongst other interesting statements he praises young environmental activist Greta Thurnberg for the courage of confronting truth to power, echoing his sentiment, she said in an interview recently that the best remedy for anger and despair is individual action. So true! It is individuals like Bill, that influence positive changes that benefit us all.
Thank you, Bill. The LMNA is grateful for his interesting and inspiring speech and long years of great service. If you need to hire a consultant restoration ecologist, look up the Nature Dude on Facebook!
Information about the Louisiana Certified Habitat program, his book and many valuable native plants are available at reasonable prices via the Acadiana Native Plant Project website https://greauxnative.org/
Thank you all. As a group we overcame many of the limitations imposed by this pandemic by using information technology to get together online. I thought the socials were especially fun and must praise Janie Braud for her good efforts in that regard!
4/21/2021 2 Comments
Bill Fontenot photos are provided courtesy of Janeene deClouet.
April 20th, 2021; Monroe, La. – The Caroline Dormon Outstanding Louisiana Naturalist Award 2021 will be presented to William R. “Bill” Fontenot at a Zoom assembly April 25th, 2021, at 2 p.m. The statewide Award is made annually by the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association. Fontenot was nominated for the award by the Acadiana Chapter of LMNA.
In 1986 Fontenot began his career with Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government, working first as Curator of Natural Sciences at the Lafayette Natural History Museum, then as manager of the Acadiana Park Nature Station. He has dedicated his career in biology to restoring ecological integrity to land, from the smallest urban gardens to the largest wildlife management areas. As a local columnist, for over two decades he helped educate the public about our natural heritage.
Since 1987 Fontenot has operated his own wildlife management, “wildscape” design, and ecological restoration consulting business, specializing in ecological assessment, biological inventory, land-use planning, and wildlife-friendly native plant-oriented landscape planning. His consulting work has taken him to hundreds of sites throughout the midwestern and eastern U.S., serving wildlife management and conservation agencies, landscape designers, community planners, ecotourism interests, and private landowners.
Fontenot earned an M.S. in freshwater fish ecology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1980, then in the early 80s spent time in the PhD program in biogeography at the University of Alabama.
The Louisiana Master Naturalist Association founded the Outstanding Louisiana Naturalist Award as a tribute to the legacy of Caroline Dormon and to recognize people who personify her commitment to conserving and appreciating the rich biodiversity of Louisiana. Fontenot is the fourth recipient of the award.
The award will be presented by Bob Thomas, president of the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association. A link to the zoom assembly will be distributed to media a few days before the event.
See our Dormon Award dedicated webpage with profiles on current and past winners. 2020 — Kelby Ouchley, 2019 — Vernon Antoine Brou, Jr., 2018 — Dr. Charles Allen.