Minutes—General Membership Meeting, November 4, 2017

The meeting was called to order at 10:05 a.m. by President Larry Henneke at the Welder Wildlife Refuge near Sinton, TX. In attendance were members: Neill Amsler, Trey Barron, Rebecca Bootzin, Anita Brunsting, Bill Burge, Bob Cunningham, Mary Jane Dence, Claudia Dorn, Joe Garland, Pat Garland, Judy Goodner, Ken Goodner, Larry Henneke, Beth Hudson, Kris Kirkwood, Ray Kirkwood, Cathy Koenig, Melanie Konarik, Barbara Mathis, Paul Meredith, Ron Mildenstein, Janet Price, Diane Roseberry, Linda Shirey, Neli Spurrell, Phil Stapleton, Rebecca Stapleton, Paul Swacina, Clark Williams, and Rick Workman.

Program: Zachary Pearson presented a very interesting program on his research on Montezuma Quail of the Edwards Plateau.


President Larry Henneke – Larry welcomed everyone to the last meeting of the year.

 Vice President Rick Workman – The next General Membership Meeting will be February 10, 2018. The program will be on monitoring the American eel. The venue hasn’t been determined yet.

Secretary Linda Shirey – Ray Kirkwood moved to accept minutes as posted. Motion passed.

 Hours Keeper Kris Kirkwood – Monthly Report as of November 4, 2017:

  • Go to Mid-Coast in Action to see our chapter’s latest monthly, year-to-date, and cumulative numbers and values
  • 73 members have reported hours in 2017 – 81.1% of the 90 active members who are eligible to report hours.
  • Our number of active members dropped to 90 with the deaths of three members this year.
  • 34 members (37.7%) have recertified for 2017 and earned the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle year pin, including four members of the Class of 2017: Ron Mildenstein, Robyn Savage, Phil Stapleton, and Rebecca Stapleton

VMS report from State Meeting – Kris Kirkwood reported that at the 2017 State Meeting, she took every session possible on the VMS system we use to keep all Chapter data. Here are some of the things she learned:

  • State VMS SuperAdmins are working to get a fix to the problem of reporting service in the wrong category and having to delete and start over. No guarantee – it will cost money to get the developer to do it, but they are working the problem, along with other needs, such as getting a fix so we will be able to see our Log Book entries in order by date. If you see a problem you’d like them to address, go to the Help Desk and submit a support ticket.
  • Criminal background checks are now required to work any project. Anyone who will not agree to a CBC will need to call the State Program Coordinator, Michelle Haggerty, to see whether case-by-case special dispensation is possible. Kris’s understanding is that at some point in time, admins will be required to remove members who have not entered their birthdate from TMN-Active membership.
  • Data Buddy—New Volunteer Opportunity! Are you willing to enter hours for another member of the chapter who doesn’t have a computer or has some other problem with reporting hours? State okays that. You can earn volunteer service hours and report them as CB: Chapter Business, choosing “Hours Management” from the Admin dropdown. If you have questions, want to be a Data Buddy, or need one, contact Kris Kirkwood.
  • State believes that any person who has not submitted at least one hour of volunteer service or advanced training in the last year should be marked as Inactive and have all volunteer opportunities unapproved. She is fighting to keep from having to do that, since it’s pretty much equivalent to kicking those people out of the chapter. Help her out, here – report hours!
  • State has approved relief of the 45-day reporting limit to chapters affected by Hurricane Harvey. Report missed events between July 15 and Sep 20 as the same date in October, email Kris the event and month it should be, and she is allowed to change it.

Treasurer Glenn Gomez – Larry Henneke for Glenn Gomez – We still have about $45,000 in total assets. Ray Kirkwood reviewed the report and had a few questions, including that cash needs to reflect that about $7,000 is allocated to the McAlister video, to break out student tuition between 2017 and 2018, there is no budget on balance sheet and we need to know whether we are over or under budget. Larry will check on these and provide answers at the next board meeting. Glenn is asking for someone else to take over as treasurer. The Chapter might provide some training for a new treasurer.

Membership – Larry Henneke for Mollie Huber – The chapter has seven paid members for the 2018 class. Since this is only about half needed for the class, we should work on recruiting more people for the class.

Initial Training – Larry Henneke thanked Bill Burge and Bob Cunningham for taking over the duties of Initial Training.

Advanced Training – Ron Smudy—Absent; no report

Projects – Catherine Koenig

  • If anyone interested in the American eel project, they can work on the project now. Cathy has handouts about the project. Paul Swacina has assembled a mop that is used in monitoring the eels and is willing to help others make the mops. Volunteers are needed to check the mops every two weeks and send the captured eels to the researchers.
  • Cathy asked than anyone submitting an application for project approval be sure that their application is complete.
  • Paul Swacina talked about the Christmas bird counts at various locations. Houston Aububon Club is a good online source for birding schedules. Kris Kirkwood will post the dates for birding counts and the contacts on the website. The bird counts are especially important this year in order to determine the effects of the hurricane.
  •  Anita Brunsting hopes to get some TMNs to help with a bird count at Dow on December 14 (part of the Guadalupe Delta bird count). Anyone interested in the Dow count should contact her. The bird count will start at 7 a.m. but birders should come at 6:30 to watch the Dow safety video.

 Plant Sale – Janet Price thanked everyone who signed up to volunteer for 2017 plant sale. The committee will start working in February on next year’s sale.

Outreach – Anita Brunsting —The most effective outreach is word of mouth. She encouraged everyone to be their own personal outreach. She felt that farmers’ markets are a very effective outreach and wants to do more of them. Brigid Berger encourages people at Academy of Lifelong Learning to join Master Naturalists. There are two PowerPoint presentations on the website with suggestions for what to tell people about TMN.

Past President Janet Price — Janet reported the following from the Presidents’ Breakfast at the 2017 State Meeting:

  • An update on the TMN Endowment, a fund started the last year or so, to support the TMN organization. A website has been created ( and a Face Book page. There is call out for Endowment Ambassadors, volunteers who will become fundraising “champions,” and who will become spokespersons for the endowment to their chapter and partner organizations, and any other potential sources of money.
  • An endowment challenge letter will be sent to all chapter Presidents.
  • News of the 20th Anniversary video project: Nineteen chapters have submitted videos. Submission in unedited form is OK. An intern at State will help with the editing. The videos and interviews will be transcribed, and correct spelling of names and places,  and other such information should be sent in with the video. More scenery shots are needed.
  • The videos and oral histories will make up an electronic archive for TMN.
  • The meeting next year will be at the Georgetown Sheraton, Georgetown, Oct 26-28, 2018. Ideas for the celebration were welcomed; also, there will be contests for ideas on T-shirt design and a slogan for the anniversary meeting.
  • The 2018 recertification pin will be an ocelot.
  • The method that the State TMN used to buy pins has been changed due to a change in a federal funding mechanism. Funds for the pins will now come from wildlife license plate sales.
  • The TPWD representative talked about the potential funding from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, introduced in the US House of Reps in 2016. This would put revenues from energy and mineral development on federal lands totaling $1.3 billion into the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Subaccount of the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Fund, without further appropriation.
  • Reminder about the annual report, to be pulled from VMS on Feb 15, 2018, using all 2017 data, so be sure that your hours are reported before then.
  • Red-lined copies of guiding documents will be sent out in November. Michelle will be asking for feedback and final versions will be made in December. Any comments and questions about these can be submitted anytime.
  • An announcement about free hardwood seedlings available for TMN projects: She will send a separate message about this, with attachments and information, and responses are to be made by Nov 10.
  • In the discussion/question session, the issue of recruiting more diverse and younger members was raised. Suggestions included; use of short videos for social media; Gulf Coast Chapter has formed a partnership with the University of Houston, and successfully recruited students, and some U of H faculty members for training classes.

Janet also showed the new edition of the Texas Waters book. She has 20 copies if anyone is interested. Janet recommended forming a study group and attending webinars.

Class Representative – Bill Burge—Eight members of the class of 2017 have certified; 15 have posted hours.

Chapter Advisor – Trey Barron—Trey briefly discussed the iNatuarlist app. Kris Kirkwood requested training for current members on iNaturalist as AT. iNaturalist training is part of new class curriculum. Paul Meredith wants people to take pictures of bees and wasps and report through iNaturalist.

Historian–Kris Kirkwood – Kris wants action shots for our history and submission to State. Linda Shirey will replace Barbara McBride for scrapbooking duties.

Webmaster –Ray Kirkwood—Ray reported that the website is working.

Old Business

P&P – Kris Kirkwood – The following are the changes approved by the Board:

Board-Approved Internal Policies and Procedures Manual Changes for 2017

Membership Committee; Member-Support Procedures
  1. Replace old text with: “Remind members by email to pay dues and edit their profiles to update contact information immediately after the first of the year.”
  2. Move to Treasurer duties: “Notify the President of members to be suspended for non-payment of dues after third reminder and prior to March 31.”
Initial Training Chair Operating Procedures

Since we no longer use ambassadors, the Board elected to use these items to work with mentors if/when we set up that State-recommended program:

  1. Replace text with: “If a mentoring program is in place, work with trainee mentors in accordance with Appendix E, Mentor Program.”
  2. Edit text to: “Remind Members-in-Training or Mentors (if used) throughout training of the time and place of each upcoming session and include information on any special supplies or equipment needed.”
Membership Committee; Application-Processing Procedures

The Board approved making these edits to address training cancellations:

  1. Refunds:
    Offer to refund the fees of applicants who were not selected or to retain the fee and place the applicant at the top of the waiting list for the following year’s training. Copy the Treasurer on all correspondence.
    9.   If an applicant drops out of a class, the full fee will be refunded if the drop is prior to January 1.

Board-Approved Changes to Align with State’s Chapter Management & Operations Protocols Document (CMOP)

Add to P&P Section I Definitions:

State Program Objectives

  1. Improve public understanding of natural resource ecology and management by developing a pool of local knowledge about natural resource ecology that can be used to enhance education and conservation efforts within local communities.
  2. Enhance existing natural resources education and outreach activities by providing natural resources training at the local level, thereby developing a supply of dedicated and informed volunteers.
  3. Develop a Texas Master Naturalist coordinated volunteer network.
  • Active/Inactive/Not Eligible Membership definitions
  • Terms for which MCTMN and State have different names
Criminal Background Check Change:

Change our wording about criminal background checks to the new CMOP wording in Section II Policies on volunteer service # 11: “All Texas Master Naturalist Members are required to have a criminal background check (CBC) when working on any approved project.”

Milestones change:

Add 15k, 20k, and further award statement: “The State Program may develop other official milestone pins beyond 20,000 hours as needed.”

Disciplining or removing members from a chapter or the program

Replace our current appendix with text from CMOP

Board-Approved P&P Changes to Align with State’s Chapter Operating Handbook Template (COH)

COH Items that differ from our P&P:

Past President—Add duty to oversee P&P (COH) revision: “Lead an annual review and update if necessary of the Chapter Operating Handbook (our P&P)

Hourskeeper (COH designation: Data Manager)—move duties and procedure from current position as working for the Secretary to working for Membership and ensure all duties listed in the COH are covered in our P&P.

Class RepresentativeAdd Participate as a member of the Annual Financial Examination Committee

Adoption/Amendment of COH (P&P)Add “Once a Chapter has adopted a revised or amended Chapter Operating Handbook, an electronic copy must be sent to the State Office within 30 days.”

Ad Hoc Committee for Other Changes Needed

The Board formed an ad hoc committee comprising Janet Price, Linda Shirey, and Kris Kirkwood to develop these needed changes:

  • Wording on using credit cards need to be written for paying dues and other items; dues section, treasurer section
  • Move Book Inventory, Para c to an appendix to more easily address changes
  • Historian & Webmaster Mission and—rewrite policy statements and add procedures.
  • AT Criteria and Volunteer Service Guidelines: review our current wording and CMOP wording for possible improvement to our manual.
  • Align duties of our Outreach chair with the State’s mandated Communications Director with these duties:
    • Oversee positions of Publicity Manager, Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, and Archivist (historian)
    • Write publicity press releases for print and electronic media covering New Class Application, Chapter meetings, and special events
    • Arrange for printing and distribution of New Class recruiting brochure

Paul Meredith made a motion to accept all changes. The motion passed.

Monthly Bird Census at ANWR – Rick Workman reported that the monthly bird census at ANWR has started. The group meets at 7:30 a.m. the last Friday of each month at the ANWR Building. Because of Thanksgiving, the November bird census will be the last Wednesdsay in November. Rick emphasized that participants don’t have to be expert birders, that it is important to have as many eyes as possible.

New Business

Election of officers for 2018 – Larry Henneke presented the slate of candidates for officers for 2018. Paul Swacina moved to elect the slate of officers. Joe Garland seconded. The slate was accepted:

  • President: Larry Henneke
  • Vice-President: Rick Workman
  • Secretary: Melanie Konarik
  • Treasurer: Glenn Gomez

Impacts of Hurricane Harvey– Larry Henneke – There are big changes for the area due to lots of damage.


2016 Recertification Pins—Claudia Dorn and Rebecca Bootzin received their Guadalupe bass pins. Rebecca Bootzin took Karen Barton’s pin. Not present to receive pins: Patrick Hartigan, Clara Noble, Patricia Rios, Patrick Rios, Joe Wiatt, and Vera Wiatt

2017 Recertification Pins—Paul Meredith, Janet Price, Phil Stapleton, Rebecca Stapleton, and Clark Williams received their year pins. Janet Price will deliver Donna Bailey’s pin and Rebecca Bootzin will deliver Karen Barton’s. Not present to receive awards: Karen Benson, Mike Burnett, Bob Friedrichs, Fred Lanoue, Linda Lanoue, Patrick Rios, Robyn Savage, Irma Schreiner, and Ron Smudy.

Enamel Dragonfly and Certification Plaque—Dora Ann Ortego – Cathy Koenig will take the plaque and pin to Dora Ann.

Bronze Dragonfly—Rebecca Bootzin will deliver Karen Barton’s pin and Janet Price will deliver Donna Bailey’s pin and badge. Not present to receive awards: Clara Noble, Patricia Rios, Vera Wiatt, and Joe Wiatt

Silver Dragonfly—Not present: Bob Friedrichs, Patrick Rios

Gold Dragonfly—Not present: Glenn Gomez


The meeting was adjourned at 12:47.

Respectfully submitted,
Linda Shirey

"Be the change you want to see in the world." – Gandhi
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