Preserving, conserving, and restoring the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.



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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Members-only privileges

Morningside Nature Center is a City of Gainesville Park.
For more than 20 years the City of Gainesville, the Friends of Gainesville's Nature Parks, and the Paynes Prairie FNPS Chapter have put on the annual native plant sale at Morningside Nature Center. This event is organized to increase membership in FNPS and/or the Friends of Nature Parks, to increase awareness of native plants, and to raise money for all three organizations. I hadn't been before so I decided to attend on Friday afternoon to experience it for myself. I was not going to purchase many plants--maybe just a few...

There was a good turn out for the members-only preview on Friday evening.
You couldn't purchase any plants until you showed you membership card and filled out the ordersheet.

On Friday afternoon, there is a preview sale for members of FNPS or the Friends of Nature Parks. If you are not a member, you can join on the spot.

The system is set up so that you need a sales sheet to carry around with you, which is filled out as you purchase plants. The plants are then transferred to the pickup point. You can drive around the loop and pick up your plants after you have paid for them in the cashiers' pavilion.
Craig Huegel selling plants & books

I talked to the 13 vendors to see how they liked this setup. Most of them come year after year and said that this is one of their best venues. I spoke with Craig Huegel whose third book on Florida natives for the shade is eagerly anticipated.

As I visited each vendor, I just picked out a few plants her and a few there. How could I resist flame azaleas (Rhododendron austrinum) for $3? Or a few more rain lilies (Zephyranthes atamasca)? Or maybe just a few nice clumps of hairawn muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)?

I was not particularly expecting to learn anything new, but I was surprised when talking to David Chiappini, who is the coauthor with Gil Nelson of Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants, I discovered that the foundation shrubs that the former owner planted in front of our house are dwarf yaupon hollies (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana'). This dense shrub is a clone of one male individual with this dense habit. I had assumed that my foundation shrubs, which were probably purchased at Home Depot, were some type of Asian holly. It had never occurred to me that they were native. David said that they've been available to the landscape industry for 30 years.

Dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana'). This cultivar has a dense growth pattern and is male.
Lost in the fringe. White fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus).
How can anyone resist these fantastic native azaleas? Sweet pinxter azalea (Rhododendron canescens).
Blue eyes and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium
angustifolium
). Start them young!

The take-home lesson 


What I think is unique about this event is that the members are given special access. I think that FNPS chapters as a group give away our knowledge and access to our meetings and events. And because it's a little uncomfortable, we don't push hard enough to get the users of our outreach to support FNPS financially by joining.

So the take home lesson here, in my opinion, is that by making membership important, the Paynes Prairie Chapter has enticed more people to join.

What has your chapter done to increase membership? Or what membership privileges do you provide?  

My take home lesson


Never expect to leave a native plant sale empty-handed. I spent $50! Always expect to learn something new. Also take the time to stop and appreciate nature. There was a wonderful sunset on the way home--just north of Penney Farms.

Sunset on the way home.
Photos and text by Ginny Stibolt

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discovering Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park

Florida cinchweed (Pectis linearifolia);
photo by A. Karim
By Annisa Karim

This May, the Florida Native Plant Society's 34th Annual Conference will be held at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers. With the Annual Conference taking place in our backyard, we have the opportunity to give a “behind the scenes” tour of some of our favorite places. As usual, conference organizers have arranged for numerous field trips to take place on the Thursday before and the Sunday after the Conference (May 15th and 18th, respectively). Among these trips is a visit to Lee County’s Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park, which I will lead, alongside notable author Dr. Walter Kingsley Taylor.

Tarflower (Bejaria racemosa);
photo by A. Karim
Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park (HCMP) consists of 862 acres and is co-managed by the Lee County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  The Park consists of a mosaic of both human altered and natural land forms. Within the boundaries of HCMP are pine flatwoods, hydric hammocks, cypress swamps, freshwater marshes, temperate hardwood hammocks, riparian wetlands, inland ponds, mixed wetland forests, xeric oak, and scrubby pine flatwoods. Hickey’s Creek, a tributary of the Caloosahatchee River, meanders through the site in a southeast to northwest direction and provides both permanent aquatic habitat and scenic beauty.

Controlled burn; photo by A. Karim
The HCMP area has been identified by the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Lee County, and FWC as a “riverine corridor” on wildlife habitat protection planning maps. The site offers refuge for various listed species including the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

Those in attendance will get to see one of Florida’s most unique plant communities – Florida Scrub.  The walk will take participants through recently burned portions of scrub and compare them to areas that haven’t been burned in years. We’ll note the difference in species composition between the two areas, identify three species of “scrub oaks” typically found in scrub areas, and discover other associated scrub plants.

---
Annisa Karim is is currently the Senior Supervisor of Conservation Lands with Lee County's Department of Parks and Recreation.

posted by Laurie Sheldon

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Neighborhood Wildlife Corridors Project

above: Atala caterpillars on coontie, a native cycad;
below: Atala butterfly by Marc Minno
by Debra L. Klein, FNPS Education Chair

Several years ago, I became aware of the absence of habitat for native birds, butterflies, and other insects in urban areas, and an increasing need to incorporate native plants into the landscape. Native plants (which naturally attract native wildlife) need no pesticides, as they co-evolved with insects, birds, etc. that successfully keep pests in check - by eating them. In short, there is balance. Further, native vegetation, when sited appropriately (where cultural needs like light, soil pH, and moisture are naturally met), is not taxing to Florida's limited water supply, as it does not typically need supplementary irrigation after establishment (unlike most lawns and ornamentals). Biodiversity, symbiotic relationships, and nominal maintenance needs typify healthy natural areas. These attributes do not need to be limited to "wild places"; they can be created on a smaller scale in residential backyards. Those yards, in turn, can connect with one another to form wildlife corridors within the context of residential areas. I began the "Neighborhood Wildlife Corridors" project with that goal in mind. The objectives of this project are as follows:

1. To establish native plants in neighborhood backyard setbacks (the 10'+ of non-buildable buffer that typically runs parallel to the back property line), whereby creating wildlife corridors for migrating and other pollinating wildlife in __________ COUNTY, FLORIDA;

2. To enhance biodiversity, environmental health and public well-being by introducing residents to the wildlife that native plants attract;

3. To utilize neighborhood backyard setbacks as micro-scale restoration areas for the habitats or ecosystems that existed prior to development, whereby encouraging the presence of native pollinators (which help preserve both native plants and wildlife species);

4. To assist with the reduction of exotic, invasive species and monocultures through the establishment of native plant habitat and ecosystems in neighborhood backyard setbacks;

5. To minimize maintenance and watering (once native plants are established), whereby saving money and protecting natural resources;

6. To promote a personal connection with nature by "bringing it home", whereby encouraging environmental stewardship into the future.

This project was delivered in PowerPoint format to various governmental agencies, coupled with a request for local commissioners to sign a resolution that encourages homeowner implementation. Future plans include requisitioning the School Board to broadcast the PowerPoint to student body. In addition, I hope to have it air on the local government TV station. After all, a resolution itself is nothing without implementation, and residents' willingness to implement a resolution will largely be based on their understanding of it.

The current PowerPoint can be adapted to suit any county within Florida simply by changing the plant and wildlife images it contains. If you are interested in bringing this project to your county, please email me at greenmansion@comcast.net.

left: NWC Resolution, adopted by Martin County; right: NWC Resolution, adopted by the Town of Sewall

Neighborhood Wildlife Corridor Resolution adopted by the City of Stuart, FL

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edited by Laurie Sheldon

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lasting Legacies


Bob Egolf (right) with Anne Cox.
Photo © Shirley Denton.
It’s always difficult to lose long-standing friends to the ravages of time. The best we can do is to remember our friends and honor their memory by continuing the good work of the Society that engaged them to begin with. Sometimes, these friends honor us as well, by remembering the Florida Native Plant Society in their wills, and other times we honor them through tributes and memorial gifts. Two recent losses to the Society come to mind when speaking of the impact the Society has on the lives of our members, and the lasting legacy their commitment to the protection of native plants and natural communities has on the Society.

When Bob Egolf passed last year, the Society mourned this immense loss. An avid gardener, promoter of native landscapes, and a conservation-minded advocate for nature protection, Bob was a dedicated leader of the Florida Native Plant Society. He served the organization in so many capacities, from his position on the Serenoa Chapter Board to his service on the state Board as Chapter Representative, Publications Chair, Vice-President for Administration, and finally as President. His wonderful personality, giving nature, leadership and service to our mission has been truly missed, but it should not have been a surprise when we learned that Bob remembered us in his will. As we have honored Bob, he in turn, has honored us.

Betty Wargo (left) with Angus Ghoulson.
Photo © Shirley Denton.
The Society faced another loss of a longtime member in 2013. Betty Wargo, a member since the Society’s earliest days, passed last year to the sadness of all who knew her. Active in her chapter on field trips, performing surveys, and photographing Florida’s native flora for publication in the Suncoast chapter’s first book and the Atlas of Florida Plants. Betty was also a regular FNPS Conference goer, where the anecdotes are legend, such as her penchant for quietly driving the cost of auction items up to help the Society, then going home with more than she likely envisioned. There was also a time when one of the Society’s conferences was faced with a financial crunch and Betty quietly wrote a check to bridge the gap. Quietly is a key to Betty’s legacy. Though she never sought an active role in leadership, she was a leader non-the-less.

The Suncoast Chapter has established a Tribute Fund to honor our memories of Betty Wargo. The chapter has donated $2,500 to the 2014 Conservation Awards in her name. For those who knew Betty and would like to add to her Tribute Fund, please fill out a donation form online or simply note the Betty Wargo Tribute Fund in the memo field of your check to the Society.

It often happens that as we honor the memories of those we have lost, we are honored in return. It is this sense of belonging and reciprocal commitment that encapsulates what it means to be a member of the Florida Native Plant Society. And, we, the Society are better for it.

Sincerely,
Kellie A. Westervelt
Executive Director

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posted by Laurie Sheldon


Monday, March 17, 2014

Florida's Native Shamrocks


By Laurie Sheldon

Aye and begorrah - Saint Patrick’s Day is upon us, as are all things green. Whether or not you choose to indulge in a green beer is your call, but one thing that will be nearly impossible to avoid today are shamrocks.

Medicago lupulina (Black medick)
is one of the four "shamrocks"
commonly worn in Ireland
For starters, shamrocks are neither part sham nor part rock, so what's with the name? The Irish word for clover is seamair, and its diminutive is seamróg; an American ear will hear this as shamrock. Incidentally, shamrocks are registered as a trademark by the Irish government.

So now that we're past the etymology, what genus and species of plant is this "little clover"? Apparently, not even the Irish have reached a consensus about this. A 1988 survey conducted at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin revealed that when the Irish wear the "shamrock," it can be any one of four different plants (none of which are Florida natives), including Black medick (Medicago lupulina) and three different species of Trifolium. As if that wasn't enough, a number of members of the Oxalis (Woodsorrel) family are also worn as shamrocks.

Trifoliate leaves have three leaflets
How did they all come to be considered shamrocks? That's easy - they're all trifoliate, or, in layman's terms, their leaves are compound and contain three leaflets (see image at right). The significance of the number three is believed to be rooted in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which Saint Patrick is said to have demonstrated by pointing to a shamrock, whose three leaves are united by a common stalk. Religion aside, we're talking plants on this blog, so let's leave that one alone.

Since we've already established that there is no "Real McCoy" species of shamrock, I think it's fair to say that Florida has at least four native shamrocks:
- Trifolium carolinianum (Carolina Clover)
Trifolium reflexum, Buffalo Clover
- Oxalis macrantha (Tufted Yellow Woodsorrel)
- Trifolium reflexum (Buffalo Clover)
- Oxalis corniculata (Common Yellow or Creeping Woodsorrel)

Carolina Clover is only found in the north portions of the state, and Tufted Yellow Woodsorrel is limited further to the northwest part of the panhandle. As for Buffalo Clover - I'm stumped. Either we haven't been looking for it hard enough or it is extremely picky about where it will grow. There are vouchered specimens from only five of Florida's 67 counties, and only two of the five are adjacent to one another.

Oxalis corniculata (Common Yellow
or Creeping Woodsorrel), a FL native,
can be found throughout the state
The Common Yellow Woodsorrel is, you guessed it, the most common of all of them, and can be found in almost every county in the state (and all over my backyard). It is a facultative upland plant with cheerful flowers that bloom year round. It stays low to the ground, produces a capsule that explodes with seed, and tends to root at its nodes. Bees seem to adore it, so if you are allergic and don't have an epipen within reach, you might want to forgo rolling around in it. Another bit'o'info that's worthy of mentioning - although both Oxalis corniculata and Oxalis macrantha are said to be edible, they contain oxalate compounds that, if eaten in large quantities, can be toxic to livestock.

So... If you think you see a leprechaun in the Sunshine State today, you might want to check in with your optometrist, but if you see something gold at the end of a rainbow, it might just be a field of Florida's most common shamrock.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Native Orchid Names

By Chuck McCartney

Naming conventions
Scientific names of naturally occurring plants (and animals, too) seem to “scare” the average person when they really shouldn’t. In botany, the first part of the italicized name (the genus) is always capitalized. The second part (the species) is always lowercase (in modern usage), even when it’s derived from a proper name. Thus, the Dollar Orchid of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties is Prosthechea boothiana, even though the species is named in honor of William Beattie Booth, the grower for wealthy 19th Century English orchidist Sir Charles Lemon. (The rules for names of man-made hybrids and cultivated varieties are different.)

These seemingly strange-looking plant names are made up primarily of Latin or Greek words, with some names derived from the names of people or places.
But if you understand the meanings of these plant names, they might not be so intimidating. Here are the meanings of the scientific names for some of South Florida’s more well-known species of tropical epiphytic (tree-growing) orchids:

Epidendrum nocturnum

Epidendrum nocturnum 
The name for this largest-flowered Florida member of this genus comes from the Greek words epi (upon) and dendron (tree) and literally means “upon a tree,” referring to the fact that most of the 1,400-plus members of this New World group grow as epiphytes, using a tree as a support. The species name (epithet), nocturnum, for the Night-Scented Epidendrum comes from the Latin word for “night,” referring to the alluring incense-like nocturnal fragrance emitted by the flowers to entice their moth pollinators through the darkness.

Encyclia tampensis
Encyclia tampensis 
This most common of South Florida’s epiphytic orchids takes its genus name from the Greek words meaning “to encircle,” indicating how the side lobes of the lip (the odd petal) of the flower grow around the bloom’s central reproductive structure (called a column) in many species of this New World group.  The species epithet denotes the Tampa Bay region from which the first plant of this species was sent to England, where it was described in 1847 (as an Epidendrum). This is the species often commonly called the Florida Butterfly Orchid, although, oddly, it looks nothing like a butterfly and is not pollinated by butterflies.

Prosthechea cochleata; photo by Shirley Denton
Prosthechea cochleata
This genus name for the Clamshell Orchid may not look familiar to longtime orchid enthusiasts because it previously was placed in Epidendrum and later Encyclia. Prosthechea comes from the Greek for an appendage or addition, referring to the appendage of tissue located on the back of the reproductive column of the flower. The species epithet comes from the Greek word for “shell” (think of marine cockleshells), referring to the upward-pointing, dark-purplish lip of the flower, which has a distinctly clamshell-like appearance.

Oncidium ensatum
Oncidium ensatum
This species is one of the exceptions to the word “epiphytic.” Most members of this big New World genus, which now numbers approximately 317 species due to recent taxonomic realignments, are epiphytes. However, in Florida, this species is generally found growing on (not in) the ground, even though on rare occasions it has been seen growing epiphytically as well. The genus name comes from the Greek word oncos, meaning a swelling or tumor (also the source for the word “oncologist,” a doctor specializing in the treatment of tumors). For the orchids, the name refers to the callus, or swelling of tissue, near the top of the flower’s lip, which functions in the orchid’s pollination mechanism. This native of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas has long been known as Oncidium floridanum (named for the state of Florida), but now orchid scientists believe it is the same as the Mexican/northern Central American Oncidium ensatum. That species name comes from the Latin word for a type of sword, referring to the long, sword-like leaves on the large plants of this beautiful yellow-flowered orchid. 

Ionopsis utricularioides
Ionopsis utricularioides 
Both names of this pretty little Oncidium relative compare it to the flowers of other plants. The genus name comes from the Greek words ion (violet) and opsis (having the appearance or likeness of) because to German botanist Carl Sigismund Kunth, who created the genus in 1815, the flowers resembled some of the true violets in the genus Viola. (Remember that so-called African Violets in the gesneriad genus Saintpaulia are unrelated to true violets.)

Swedish botanist Olof Swartz’s 1788 species name for what he called Epidendrum utricularioides compares the flowers of this orchid to those of some species of carnivorous Bladderwort in the genus Utricularia. Worldwide, many Utricularia species do have pretty bilaterally symmetrical, orchid-like flowers. The oides suffix on the end of the orchid’s species name is similar to -opsis in the generic name and indicates a resemblance to something else.

Cyrtopodium punctatum
Cyrtopodium punctatum 
This largest of Florida’s tropical epiphytic orchids is commonly called the Cowhorn Orchid or Cigar Orchid because of the shape of the large, elongate pseudobulbs that, when leafless in the winter, do, indeed, resemble either of those well-known objects. This New World genus takes its name from a combination of the Greek words kyrtos (curved) and podion (little foot), referring to the curved “column foot” at the back of the reproductive column that connects it to the lip. The species epithet comes from the Latin word punctatus, meaning “pricked” or “spotted,” alluding to the prominently speckled flowers of the species.

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Posted by Laurie Sheldon
All photos by the author unless otherwise noted

Friday, March 7, 2014

Falling Waters State Park, a profile

Sunrise is an excellent time for a hike at Falling Waters (or pretty much anywhere else) because the light is interesting for photos and there are fewer people on the trail. On this hike we didn't see anyone else in two hours even though the 25-site campground in the park was almost full.
Falling Waters State Park, at the highest elevation of Florida's state parks at a whopping 324', is lovely park in Florida's Panhandle about an hour west of Tallahassee and just a few miles south of I-10. It has 25 campsites, a swimming hole and the state's highest waterfall with a drop of 70' into a 100'-deep sinkhole. There are other sinkholes as well because of the karst topography where the rain water eats through the limestone bedrock. There's a good assortment of trees, shrubs, grasses and other understory plants. Well worth a visit.
 
The trail starts out through the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and wiregrass (Aristida stricta var. beyrichiana) habitat, which the park maintains through controlled burns.

Early morning lake reflections.

The 2-acre dammed lake was built at the beginning of the park's history to control the flow of water over the waterfall. The overflow from the lake leads to one of the original feeder creeks to the waterfall. This way, it looks good on a year-round basis and not just during the wet season. They stocked the lake with fish and created this sandy beach to bring more people to the park.

The water was flowing, but we think that maybe the volume was turned down during the night when no one would see it and it hadn't been turned back up again. A rainy front had passed through over night so maybe the flow was affected by the extra volume.
But when you look into the gap the fall into this perfectly circular sinkhole is pretty spectacular.

There is a trail loop around some of the sinkholes in the area.
Beautiful southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) decorate the walls of the sinkholes.

A magnolia root system at work trying to keep its topside upright.

Snags left over from a previous burn provide housing for a number of different birds.

Adams needle (Yucca filamentosa) dot the landscape.

Young longleaf pines are fire adapted with no lower branches and buds protected by a thick mat of hairs.
This is one of Florida's 170 state parks. Show your appreciation by visiting them on a regular basis. The number of visitors is an important metric when parks plead for state funding, so vote for parks with your money and as a bonus you'll keep you family in touch with "The Real Florida."

Photos and story by Ginny Stibolt.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Good News for Florida's Roadside Wildflowers!



By Lisa Roberts
Florida Wildflower Foundation Executive Director

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad recently signed the department's new Wildflower Management Program Procedure, which will allow more of the state's native wildflowers to flourish along roadsides through reduced mowing and other management practices.

Left to right - Jeff Caster, FDOT landscape architect; Jeff Norcini,
FDOT wildflower horticulturalist; FDOT Sec. Ananth Prasad;
Florida Wildflower Foundation liaison Eleanor Dietrich
FDOT state transportation landscape architect Jeff Caster said, “Roadsides are the state’s most visited and visible landscape.  The department is committed to increasing the visibility and enjoyment of native wildflowers.” 

State Road 65 - roadside wildflowers; photo by Eleanor Dietrich
"We salute the department in enacting this forward-thinking program," said Vince Lamb, Florida Wildflower Foundation board chairman. "In Florida, wildflower tourism is building as its own brand of ecotourism, as is exemplified in the eastern Panhandle. There's no doubt that FDOT's new statewide procedure will help preserve native wildflowers, the most beautiful roadside assets of all."

Roadside ORCHIDS! Platanthera species; Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Hairstreak butterfly on roadside Oclemena reticulata (white
topped aster) in Leon County; photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Not only are they beautiful, wildflowers provide habitat for the pollinators vital to Florida's agricultural success. Together, they are essential to the production of every third bite of food we eat.

On Jan. 28, the Florida Wildflower Foundation and the Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society hosted a meeting of more than 100 Panhandle Wildflower Alliance members in Tallahassee to introduce the new program. Established in 2012, the Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance is an informal network of regional wildflower enthusiasts that advocates for conservation of wildflowers in the state’s Eastern Panhandle.

For additional information, see the following links:
Panhandle Wildflower Alliance
Florida's wildflowers

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posted by Laurie Sheldon

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 2014 Board Retreat

Haven't been to the Circle B? You're missing out on
some fabulous birding and tons of trails for hiking!
The 5 Ws, More or Less
On February 8th and 9th, 2014 your F.N.P.S. Board of Directors (a.k.a. "Fearless Leaders") congregated in Lakeland, Florida for a weekend of meetings, which were held at the Circle B Bar Reserve. The first day began with the usual: approval of minutes from the previous meeting and reports from the Executive Committee. We quickly navigated through the morning's business like a motorcyclist in a traffic jam. After a short break for lunch, we reconvened to tackle voting on Bylaw revisions and take part in a goal-focused workshop derived, to some degree, from the Strategic Plan that the Bristol Strategy Group submitted some time after our last retreat in November.

SurveyMonkey is a web-based service used
by a multitude of industries to ask questions
of a target audience and compile responses
in real time.
Bylaw Changes - Voting
Cindy Liberton took on the super-fun task of writing up potential changes to the FNPS Bylaws, bless her heart. Prior to a discussion of the content of those changes, we proceeded to come up with a schedule and plan for voting on them. When all was said and done, it was determined that the Board of Directors would/should be able to review and comment on the proposed revisions through the FNPS forum until February 26th, and would cast their votes (yay/nay/abstention) sometime between February 27th and March 6th. This would be an all or nothing kind of vote (i.e. the revisions will be voted on as a package). If the revisions pass, the general membership will be informed of them via the Sabal Minor by about March 7th (this could be a bit later for those who receive the Sabal Minor via snail mail). An additional email with advisory info about the vote will be sent out a handful of days later, just in case any members did not see the writeup in the Sabal Minor. Three weeks after the Sabal Minor announcement about bylaw voting, mail-in ballots will be sent to members without email addresses; everyone else will receive an email with a link to the SurveyMonkey voting site, on which voting will commence April 12th and conclude at midnight on April 19th. Mail-in ballots, postmarked no later than April 19th, will be tallied by representatives of the Council of Chapters by April 25th, the results of which will be shared first with the Board of Directors, then with the general membership.

Bristol for Dummies
To rewind for a minute, there were these consultants (the "Bristol Strategy Group") we paid to come boss us around for two weekends and ask a whole bunch of questions, then write a report about it that was somewhat difficult to interpret. Fortunately, several members of the Board, including Jan Allyn, Scott Davis, and Shirley Denton (apologies if I omitted anyone), took the liberty of interpreting the Bristol directives and using them, along with their knowledge of FNPS, to determine which five aspirational goals the organization needed the most help with, namely Landuse Planning, Field Trips/Active Programs, Educational Programs for Landscaping, Habitat Restoration, and Native Plant Advocacy. Scott presented an executive summary of all of that, then Jan took the helm, and divided the Board into five groups, one for each goal. The groups discussed the goals they were assigned and developed workplans and a list of resources needed to accomplish those goals, whereafter they suckered one person into presenting their group's findings to the rest of the Board (see images at left). Five presentations later, all of the Board members were allotted three votes, which they could place on either three different goal/group ideas or two on one and one on another. Jan secured the votes with scotch tape and, to the best of my memory, the meeting was adjourned for the day. Yippee!

Later that Evening
Most of us met for dinner at Harry's in downtown Lakeland, but a few of the cold-sensitive south Floridians could not handle the slight nip in the air on the outside patio where we were seated. I will not name these individuals, but will simply refer to them as "the wimpy bunch." So the wimpy bunch bailed and hit up an indoor barbecue joint catty-corner to Harry's. We all got home relatively late, and with "homework" - to read and review the proposed Bylaw changes so that we could have an intelligent conversation about them the following day, when they were scheduled to be formally presented.

Sunday Funday
Julie Becker
Bright and early the next day, the Council of Chapters (Chapter Reps) met back at the ol' Circle B. Julie Becker kept a tight grip on the reins and divided everyone into groups once more; this time, each group was tasked with working out Council specifics. While one group developed a schedule of meetings, including how/where they would take place (via webinar, conference call, live, etc), others were focused on topics like the criteria that Regional Representatives of the Council should meet, Standard Operating Procedures, the role of committees within the Council, and how the council would communicate with the general membership. This was all very productive, and a great way to achieve consensus about what might otherwise be construed as nit-picky details. 

When the Council meeting was over, the remainder of the Board of Directors filed in and Cindy Liberton took the floor. She went through the Bylaw changes and fielded comments and suggestions like a pro. Naturally, FNPS Board members are very shy and not even remotely opinionated, so hardly anyone had any input. HAHA. Despite the comments from the peanut gallery, the meeting was civil and effective for hammering out potential Bylaw kinks. 

As soon as the whistle blew, I slipped down my dinosaur, out of the gravel pit, and into the Reserve that had been calling my name since the previous morning. It gave me the boost I needed to drive for hours through cow pastures, yard sales and/or surrounded by aggressive, unlicensed drivers. And I do it all for you - and pay for my own gas to do it! Almost all of us do. So the next time you see a Board Member, give him or her a hug. We are all working hard to keep FNPS great, one meeting at a time. 


Respectfully submitted by Laurie Sheldon