You are here

Prairie Notes header

Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Advocates for Nature

Prairie Notes: #91
July 1, 2014

01) Advocates for Nature
02) Input-Output
03) Field Notebook
04) Picking Winners
05) Pasture to Prairie
06) Vegetation of the FW Prairie, 1946
07) "C" is for Cenizo Journal
08) "C" is for Compassplant
09) "C" is for Chinese E-Mag
10) "C" is for Camp Carter
11) Worth Repeating
12) Prairie Proverb

01) Advocates for Nature

I read with interest a recent Star-Telegram profile/interview of Lemuel Randolph, the new director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Arlington. What a refreshing voice of reason! He views his job as a crucial city service and not a luxury. At the close of the interview, Mr. Randolph made a point to mention the book, Last Child in the Woods, and how a generation of kids are being raised with little or no connection to the natural world. That statement in itself is pretty remarkable these days, especially in Texas, but he went on to say this:

"Children who are not exposed to nature will not be able to advocate for nature."

Give that man an Amen and a raise! In a region that is filling up with people and concrete at an unsustainable rate, quality green space is at a premium. With more people and industry coming we need more natural areas but more importantly we need more defenders of natural areas or, advocates, as Randolph asserts.

Building awareness of the importance of natural areas is one of the founding pillars of Friends of Tandy Hills and one we don't take lightly. See #4, #10 and #11 below on our efforts, with YOUR support, to grow new advocates for preserving, protecting and expanding Tandy Hills and all green space.


KOP group leader, Wild Bill Hall , making 4th graders into nature advocates. Photo by Debora Young

02) Input-Output

An important message from Prairie Fest co-director, Jen Schultes :

Hiya prairie folks! We here at FOTHNA HQ are dedicated to bringing prairie to the people and people to the prairie. Please take 1 minute to tell us how we are doing, how else we might serve you and how you might get involved. The link below will direct you to a brief survey. We thank you!

03) Field Notebook

Mucha lluvia en la pradera! The loving tongue expresses it much more lyrically than English but in any language, June 2014 was an extraordinarily good month for rain and cooler temps on the Tandy Hills. The results are predictable: Many Spring wildflowers had a second act while new ones burst on the scene. The prairie grasses got a good jump on the coming Summer heat and the wildlife were less stressed.

Speaking of....Wildlife sightings in June include Texas Spiny Lizard-eating Roadrunners, Cottontail rabbits, an influx of Western Kingbirds and cute pairs of Downy Woodpeckers and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. The distinctive call of a Painted Bunting was heard as were the chilling howls of a pack of Coyotes late one evening. It's wild over here.

Here's a few pics of what crossed my path during the rainy month of June.

Dogweed (Dyssodiopsis tagetoides) brightens up the Tandy Hills.

Mock Pennyroyal (Hedeoma reverchonii) glows like silver in the Sun across Tandy Hills.

Lady Bird's Centaury (Centaurium texense) is tiny but showy.

Golden Dalea's (Dalea aurea) unique shade of yellow gold classes up the June prairie.

It's official. Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are ringing in the Summer breeze at Tandy Hills.

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) pods are now doing their job of helping the Monarch butterflies.

Narrowleaf Indian Breadroot (Pediomelum linearifolium) blossoms hang delicately from long slender stems.

04) Picking Winners

Twelve 4th graders from Meadowbrook Elementary School have been selected as winners in the Kids on the Prairie Field Investigation Contest for Spring 2014. One of the most gratifying tasks Debora Young and I have is viewing and judging the Best Essay, Art, Poetry and Rap from nearly 100 entries to pick the cream of the crop.

See them all here AND see #10 below:

First Place winners in the KOP poetry contest took home some cool prizes. Photo by Suzanne Tuttle.

05) Pasture to Prairie

Sing along with me now to that 60's goldie oldie:

"Lord, we don't need another pasture. There are pastures and cedar groves, forevermore. ...What the world needs now is prairies sweet prairies. It's the only thing that there's just too little of."

Amy Martin, formerly of Moonlady News, and other endeavors, was probably singing that song when she decided to rehabilitate her 75 acre property in Fannin County turning a Bermuda grass pasture into a blackland tallgrass prairie. And that's just for starters. You'll enjoy reading her new monthly column, North Texas Wild, at Green Source DFW.

06) Vegetation of the FW Prairie, 1946

The Ecological Society of America, has published the hard to find 1946 monograph by E.J. Dyksterhuis titled, The Vegetation of the Fort Worth Prairie. The FW Prairie is an ecological zone between the East and West Cross Timbers zone and includes Tandy Hills.

You can read the 30 page document for free at the link below. It is a non-technical, entertaining read for laymen/women with lots of pre-settlement historical background and probably intended for use by cattle ranchers.:

07) "C" is for Cenizo Journal

"Cenizo Journal is a quarterly journal dedicated to chronicling the history and people of Far West Texas through the work of writers, artists, poets and photographers."

I am pleased and proud that my new essay, Worlds Apart, with accompanying photos, is included in the third quarter 2014 issue. Regular readers of Prairie Notes may recognize it as a reworking of Vacation Notes from last September.

08) "C" is for Compassplant

One of my favorite Summertime prairie plants is Compassplant (Silphium lacinatum). A member of the Sunflower family, this stately and sturdy plant flourishes at Tandy Hills. Its yellow flowers, similar to Sunflower, grow from a 3' - 6' stalk and bloom from late Spring until September.

The common name refers to the large, stiff, deeply filigreed leaves that orient themselves in a north-south direction. The name translates as "big medicine" in several native American dialects due to its many medicinal uses. It is also a healthy prairie indicator plant. Its shorter but close cousin, White Rosinweed (Silphium albiflorum), is also blooming right now.

Read a lovely and informative article about Compassplant at the Human Flower Project website here:

Dude, don't call me a Sunflower.

09) "C" is for Chinese

I recently discovered, Nature and Human Life, a bi-lingual E-magazine aimed primarily at a global Chinese-speaking audience. It is edited by Shan Gao, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy at Soochow University, Suzhou, China, founded in 1900.

The E-mag mission is "to promote academic communication between China and the West in the field of environmental humanities." Interesting topics include environmental ethics and aesthetics, ecological wisdom, environmental literature and philosophy, etc. etc. Right up my alley...

I'm honored that the cover of Issue #3 features my recent Summer Solstice photo taken at Tandy Hills. Prairie to the People!!!

封面- Cover photo by Don Young

10) "C" is for Camp Carter

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area thank YMCA Camp Carter for their generous support of Prairie Fest 2014. Camp Director, YMCA counselors and Goodnight cabin mates celebrate Carter Jergensen's $600 value grand prize for the Time Travel Passport Game - a full week of overnight summer camp! Makes me wanna be a kid again. Hurrah to Carter on completing this challenging game!

Advocates for nature in training. Photo by Heather Foote

11) Worth Repeating

I'm so damn proud of this, I have to re-share---from Fort Worth ISD:

Since 2012 there has been "a steady increase in the number of 5th grade students at Meadowbrook Elementary School who performed at the State recommended level in science."

2012- 55%
2013- 60%
2014- 71%

Meadowbrook Elementary School is a Kids on the Prairie adopted school and has participated in the program since it began in 2011. We get a new crop of enthusiastic 4th graders each year.

The upward trend at Meadowbrook ES is NOT widespread across the city. Is there a connection between these improved test scores and the science-based field investigations at Tandy Hills? We can't say for certain but we think with our newly-minted, gold-standard field journals the trend to continue.

Back row l-r: Don & Debora Young, Suzanne Tuttle, Kathy Cash, Bill Hall, Anne Alderfer, Jan Miller and John Tandy
with KOP winners and advocates for nature.

12) Prairie Proverb

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

– Alice Walker, from The Color Purple,1982

I noticed and you can too.

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.