The Pima County Chapter of the Arizona Master Naturalists held its annual membership meeting on Sunday 12/5/21 at the home of the Chapter Secretary, Carrie Barcom, in Tanque Verde. Previous meetings have been held at Tucson Botanical Gardens (2018), Molino Basin Campground (2019), and on Zoom (2020).
The primary article of business was to confirm the selection of Jan Schwartz (C4) as president for 2022 and Melissa Fratello (C5) as President-Elect (2023). In the photo below Jan is front row, third from the left not counting ‘Cameron’ the pooch. Melissa Fratello is back row, sixth from the right. The other bookend husky is ‘Haiku.’
The central theme of the gathering was ‘resiliency.’ We were reminded that we are a volunteer organization run entirely by volunteers. We have weathered (and continue to weather) almost two years of pandemic restrictions and the loss of elected leadership during that critical time. While we don’t always get our hours posted in Volgistics with ‘disciplined regularity’ we nonetheless are back out there volunteering and serving our desert and community. Our brand is becoming a real presence in Pima County. As recent evidence of this, the City of Marana has asked for our assistance in conducting a species survey of the Tortolita Preserve. We would participate in partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, and the Tortolita Alliance. More to come in early 2022.
Brand new ‘Certified’ Master Naturalists from Cohort 5 were recognized: Paula Redinger, Les Krammer, and Kathy Altman.
Prior to the meeting and potluck picnic there were a couple optional activities to participate in. Several MN’s joined curriculum instructor, and Chapter supporter, Jeff Babson from Pima County, Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (PCNRPR) on a bird walk in Agua Caliente park.
Jeff was able to turn the session into some coveted Advanced Training (SKILLS) hours by teaching his protocols for species identification; shape, size, habitat, etc. Among the species the group observed were a vermilion flycatcher, grey flycatcher, and Lincoln’s sparrow (below).
Members also had the opportunity to earn some regular Advanced Training hours by participating in a collaborative, desert ecology walk along the Pink Hill Trail in Saguaro National Park East. Learning from each other along an incredibly diverse and representative section of Sonoran Desert was a rewarding experience. Below, a few members both mourn and examine an iconic species.
After the picnic lunch, our Chapter Advisor, LoriAnne Barnett-Warren, conducted a raffle of items donated by the membership. These incredibly handsome donations and the generosity of participants netted the Chapter around $250.00 that can be used to continue to increase our diversity by providing scholarships and/or offset the cost of our course of instruction. Special thanks to PCMN members who donated personal works of art. Reminder, if you are willing to donate your copy of A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert for a scholarship student in C6 just let anyone on the Board of Directors or Curriculum Committee know.
Finally, our incoming president announced to those members present that the preparations for Cohort 6 are being finalized. Three information sessions were held on Zoom and interviews are being conducted. It is anticipated that C6 will be a hybrid course with live field sessions and a mix of both live and zoom classroom instruction. But as always, we’ll be flexible!