The 2013 BioBlitz was an exceptional experience in a number of ways - not the least of which was the lunch feast! Village Creek State Park, located on unique Crowley’s Ridge near Wynne, AR, was a lovely setting for this event. It looked like spring but still with just a hint of winter as the night time temps fell into the 30’s. A few attendees stayed in town, but most stayed at the park in cabins, campers or tents.
The park was ideally suited for our experiences and training. The many trails provided appropriate areas for the various subject specific short treks. We each went on two inspirational and learning evoking walks (which everyone I've talked to thoroughly enjoyed).
The distinctive Crowley's Ridge formation, infinitely different from the Ozarks' karst environment, made the geology walk a one of a kind opportunity. We saw a ledge as high as our rock ledges, but made up entirely of silt and loess. The experts who led the walks enthusiastically shared their wealth of knowledgeable and deftly explained their subjects. Participants shared their observations during the walks and even now when we run into each other, we continue comparing notes.
Members of all five Arkansas Master Naturalist chapters attended. The nominated slate of state officers for our 2013-2014 fiscal year was affirmed by unanimous vote and each chapter gave a report highlighting their activities for the past year. Ours was one of several chapters who had a busy year. In his report, NCAMN President Roy Stovall announced that we are the sponsor for the first chapter in Arkansas of FrogWatch USA and asked Tom Krohn, himself an engaging presenter, to explain our part and what we are and will be doing. The Arkansas Master Naturalist of the Year recognition was awarded to NCAMN’s own Roy Stovall! The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center received recognition for exceptional support to AMN by an outside organization while MaryAnn Sainsbury, Pinnacle Mountain State Park interpreter, was recognized as Honorary Master Naturalist of the year.
We would especially like to thank Dwan for her hard work both before and during BioBlitz. She didn’t take out time for the walks, but was everywhere making sure all the walks, events, and shirt/hat distributions came off smoothly. A special thank you also goes to Village Creek SP interpreter, Adam Leslie, for his help in orchestrating the activities.
One of the best things about being a naturalist is being around people who truly care about the natural environment and who enjoy actively helping preserve it. BioBlitz was an exceptional opportunity to meet noted experts from around the area and like-minded AMN members from all around central and northern Arkansas. We had both NCAMN NITS and certified members there, which gave us an additional chance to visit with folks from our chapter and further extend our developing friendships. We were pleased that, by the end of the weekend, each of the other chapters had expressed interest in learning more about FrogWatch.
All in all the weather was near perfect, the Village Creek State Park staff were great hosts, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. We NITs also got a taste of the challenge ahead for us when it is our turn to be the organizers and hosts.