PCMN Annual Meeting December 2022

Submitted By Kathy McLin Cohort 3

The PCMN Chapter held their 2022 annual membership meeting on Sunday, December 4th, but unfortunately without one of our most beloved Master Naturalist members, Josh Skattum. In his spirit, a memorial hike was planned that morning to honor Josh. This same hike in Saguaro National Park East, led again by one of our favorite group hike leaders Franklin Lane (C1), was enjoyed last year by Josh and a few others before last year’s annual meeting. Moreover, this hike and time spent in nature provided fourteen (14) of the PCMNs and their friends a way to celebrate his memory and feel as one with him. Our destination, Pink Hill! Also, it didn’t matter that it was raining, everyone scheduled showed up and Franklin had inspected the trail beforehand and identified 5 landmarks where we’d stop and review the uniqueness of our surroundings.

Stop 1: A Barrel cactus orientates in a southern direction to soak up the sun’s rays. The outer flesh grows thicker on this side. If transplanted the cactus must be placed in the same orientation to survive. The little seed pods on top are edible, seeds and all!

Stop 2: Nurse tree: A symbiotic relationship between the Green Palo Verde tree and the Saguaro exists in which the nurse plant provides the young Saguaro with protection against both sun and frost. As the Saguaro gradually grows, it takes more and more of the water and nutrients from the soil and in the process the nurse plant or tree gradually dies. Organic material that collects under the tree provides fertilization that attracts other plants a favorable environment in which to grow.

Stop 3: Crested or Cristate Saguaro are a rare occurrence without a precisely known cause. Viral or genetic mutations are speculations but whatever the reason the cactus grows without any harm to the plant. It is estimated that 250 saguaro in the Sonoran Desert are Crested.

Stop 4: Atop Pink Hill the Rincons stretched out before us, we could see for miles in all directions. We knew that Josh was with us. The warm rain a mere light mist around us, the brilliant greens and colors more intense for it’s/his kisses.

This prickly pear nopale was shaped like a drinking cup and held rain water at the top of Pink Hill. Rain is the ultimate gift of Love to a desert community and we know that Josh was reciprocating by being within us and all around us on this walk. Thank you Josh for preparing this Loving Cup of precious water at the final destination of our hike. Nature can speak volumes with nary a word.

Josh’s Saguaro – We stopped before ending our hike at the fallen Saguaro that Josh had been pictured at the previous year. It seemed fitting to gather here where life and death meet to show us that good does not die, and change is inevitable. How grateful we are for having Josh in our lives. The diverse group of master naturalists that gathered for his memorial hike showed how great an impact he made to our world. Some never met him but his contributions, conversations and dedication endeared him to them. For four of us who are Cohort 3 alumni with Josh the bond is unbreakable as it is for those who had the opportunity to share projects with him. Thanks go to all participants and to Josh ❤️

Kathy’s Reflection on Josh: What was but a moment in time Josh transcended beyond the here and now. A jaw dropping reality for family, friends and acquaintances. Josh cast a wide shadow, he was fierce, a force field of energy, hungry for knowledge, passionate about helping, sharing, contributing. You had to like him, for he was harmony itself. If you didn’t know him personally you had likely heard of him. He knew when and how to contribute, and was a natural leader and inclusive of everyone. Josh had a passion for Nature and all that it encompassed. He loved nothing more than being outdoors, friends in tow, hiking, studying the environment, it’s animal, plant life and geology. And he shared what he learned as any good naturalist does.

Participants: LoriAnne Barnett, Kathleen McLin C3, Kathe Sudano C3, Peggy Ollerhead C3, Dave DeGroot C2, Izetta Feeny C6, Melissa Fratello C5 plus friend, Dre Hoerr C3, Diane Taylor C6 plus friend, Jessica Paul C4, Carly Pierson C6, Franklin Lane C1

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