Thursday, May 5, 2016


        I had a few words of introduction prepared for our Graduation/Picnic held April 30th at the Franklin County Recreational Park, but not everyone could attend so just to make sure everyone got a chance to suffer through one of my speeches I am submitting it to our blog.

[To set the scene, imagine dozens of people, hunkered down on wooden picnic tables, under the roof of a picnic shelter, while the drizzle came down on a rather cool, overcast day. Lucky ones had brought jackets. Hoods were a bonus. Some unlucky souls had only t-shirts and shorts between them and the elements.]

“For the next 15 minutes, while I talk, your eyes will wonder and take in all the wonderful signs of spring. You may be distracted by the occasional butterfly fluttering by or a bird singing its tune. Silently you think to yourself, I know what that is!
Well I won’t take offense if you are not captivated by my speech, because I know that’s just your natural instinct. You are captivated by NATURE…..You are NATURALISTS!     It’s what you do.

As naturalists we have 3 main goals.

 1. We learn and study all things nature. We learn where we can help when nature’s balance is off kilter and how to hopefully keep it from getting to that point.
2. We educate others about ecosystems and issues that have pressing concern to our natural environment. We’ve reached individuals ranging in age from elementary school level to those in the senior citizen zone.
3. And we actively help to conserve and preserve nature. In some cases we help to reverse the unintentional, detrimental damage to the ecosystem.

     When you think about it, we really do have a lot of work to do!  But if you enjoy it, it feels less like work and more like a pleasant way to spend time… a walk in the woods.

     Our BRFAL chapter really is a great group.   Small…but…as the saying goes:   “Good things come in small packages.”

     In a time that is familiar with greed, ‘me me me’ oriented attitudes, hand sanitizer at the ready to kill those bad ‘germs’, we are special because what we do is not for selfish reasons. We give our time, our energy, and our encouragement freely.  We are not afraid to get dirty, wet, slimed, and possibly bit by various critters. (ok, some of us are less afraid than others).

      I want to personally acknowledge and thank everyone for their dedication and being a part of our chapter. The time you block out on your calendars, the hours you spend volunteering, the effort that you take to make sure things get done, recording your hours, making sure protocol is followed, organizing events, seeing a training class through to completion, planning committees, helping projects succeed by being there when the work needs doing (rain or shine), standing in freezing water when no one else wants to do it, seeking out and taking advance training classes just so you can be a more effective educator yourself, giving up spare time to be an active and much valued member on the executive board and serve as committee chairs.

     All these things are vital to our chapter. Your backgrounds and career paths are so varied that everyone brings something special to the table. One can add their own perspectives, opinions, creative ideas and initiatives. But the one thing we have in common is our love of nature  and you can be a more effective educator yourself, giving up spare time to be an active and much valued member on the executive board and serve as committee chairs.

      Now having just said how much time everyone spends volunteering, I am aware that life gets in the way. We are not a young group and our health often comes first, as evidenced by having people hobbling around in clunky restrictor boots, hands in casts doing their best to handle and demonstrate reptiles. Shoulder surgery, eye surgery, cortisone shots …the list goes on. We brave ticks, chiggers and poison ivy. We brave untimely snow squalls in April. 

     We should have a bumper sticker that says:    “Suck it up, You’re a Naturalist!”

     We all know vacations are important. Hosting family get togethers are always in the planning. Family matters like weddings, funerals, and births consume our daily lives. People are forever disappearing for days and weeks at a time. Whenever there’s a void, we all act like an algal bloom in the wake of a motor boat. We fill in the gap and carry on. We get the job done. Why?  Because we’re Naturalists!  We know that, like a spider web, if one small thread gets broken, the whole web is in jeopardy of falling apart.  We understand the concept that our chapter, like the ecosystem, is a complex system of interwoven parts that all are reliant on each other in some way.

     This chapter continues to evolve. New challenges…New projects…new members….

     This is going to be a BIG YEAR for us, as we are hosting the Virginia Master Naturalist Conference in August.  That’s a VERY BIG DEAL!  There have already been a lot of preparations in the works. I hope when Meg starts calling and asking for volunteers, I hope everyone will make it their top priority to help out in any way they can. We need to really shine. We’d like to have all our members be at the conference, wearing their BRFAL patches prominently along with their shiny new name tags and collections of recertification pins.  There was an article in  ‘THE POLLINATOR’ which gave a sneak peak on the upcoming conference. Make sure you check it out.”

      After our delicious potluck meal, we had a general BRFAL meeting and following that, we held our Graduation, Recertification Pin presentation and even some Volunteer Hour Milestone awards and pins.( More on that later.) Congratulations to everyone. Well done. YOU ARE AN OUTSTANDING BUNCH!

                                                                                     Kathy Scott
                                                                                     BRFAL President




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