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.


Prairie Notes #96
December 1, 2014

01) Milestones
02) Field Notebook
03) Election Day
04) KOP Winners
05) Teaming with Wildlife
06) Prairies of the Future
07) Milkweed Watch
08) Shop Local. Eat Local.
09) Coming Attraction
10) Prairie Proverb

01) Milestones

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, founded in 2004 in a moment of alarmed passion, had another pretty good year of achieving our goals of raising awareness and restoring our local prairie in 2014. As a measure of our success, many things that were only dreams a few years ago are now reality. Here's a look back at our momentous milestone tenth year:

  • 5th year of the Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills on New Years Day was well-attended, attracting many new visitors.
  • 6th year of Brush Bash cleared the area near the outdoor classroom of 142 yards of brush.
  • 6th year of Trout Lily Walk with Jim Varnum was the best ever thanks to the lilies themselves that showed up in huge numbers.
  • Mayor Betsy Price and FW City Council issued a Proclamation recognizing the 9th annual Prairie Fest.
  • 9th year of Prairie Fest (dubbed a Down-home Green Shindig by GreenSource DFW) was the farewell fest for Don & Debora Young as co-directors. The torch was gently passed to Jen Schultes & James Zametz and their new dream team of volunteers to help re-imagine Prairie Fest #10.
  • 4th year of Kids on the Prairie saw a growth spurt in 2014 with the debut of the new and improved Field Journal that exceeds STEAM standards. Significantly, science test scores at our adopted school have risen steadily over those years. About 300 new kids now know what a prairie is.
  • Friends of Tandy Hills co-sponsored the Native Prairies Association of Texas state conference in Fort Worth and hosted a filed trip to Tandy Hills.
  • Don & Debora Young led the best-attended hike ever at Tandy Hills for about 100 congregants from Unity Church of Fort Worth.
  • FOTHNA co-founder, Debora Young, published her 116 page filed guide-art book titled, Prairie Wildflowers Illustrated.
  • The Native Plant Society of Texas presented Friends of Tandy Hills with the first, Native Star Award.
  • A second Outdoor Classroom project was announced by future Eagle Scout, Henry Grunow.
  • S&S Trails of Austin with help from Friends of Tandy Hills volunteers and FW-PACS began a long-term trail system makeover with a beautifully designed new trail. 
  • With help from the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), FW Chapter, a new annual event dubbed the, Sunset Hike, was inaugurated. 
  • A talk/slideshow on the 10-year history of FOTHNA was delivered by Don & Debora Young at the October meeting of the NPAT-FW Chapter.
  • Prairie Notes, the Friends of Tandy Hills newsletter penned and pic'd by Don Young hit the 10 year mark in August. Milestone issue #100 will arrive in April 2015.
  • Fundraising for Friends of Tandy Hills hit a new high in 2014. Our debut showing at the North Texas Giving Day raised a respectable number of donations.  We also received generous support from Unity Church of Fort Worth via church member tithe offerings. The FASH Foundation endowed FOTHNA with a Kids on the Prairie grant for the 3rd straight year. Starbucks Foundation, awarded FOTHNA a generous donation through their Community Service Program, matching employee donations at a local store managed by Joe Vano. Prairie Fest Sponsorships and General membership were also up. We are VERY grateful to all!
  • Flnally, John Lewis Tandy, whose family settled this area in 1854 and once owned our namesake prairie, moved back to Fort Worth from Los Angeles in 2014. He instantly became an enthusiastic, key volunteer for FOTHNA and has taken it on himself to record every event this year with his movie camera. John has also generously allowed use of the 1911 family home for meetings. Thank you John!

The Tandy Hills prairie itself, our raison d'être, had a beautiful year as well. The future is looking good!



02) Field Notebook

The Oak trees down in the hill creases are still aflame with Fall color but the prairie is changing with the approach of the Winter Solstice. (December 21) Here are a few pics from my Fall Notebook of what I observed at Tandy Hills during the month of November.

Red Oak trees in full Fall color brighten up the landscape. 

Rusty Blackhaw tree

Aromatic Sumac bush

Possumhaw tree

Uncommon and native, Wand Milkweed

Beautiful prairie hills under a big blue November sky.

Twilight time is the right time to be at Tandy Hills.

03) Election Day

A meeting to elect a new Board of Directors for 2015 will be held on December 7 at 1 p.m. at the Tandy House (3427 Meadowbrook Dr). A new slate of officers has been selected by a nominating committee and they are:

  • President: Don Young
  • VP: Greg Hughes
  • Secretary: Sallie Rody
  • Treasurer: Jim Marshall
  • Communication Director: Jen Schultes

Additional nominations can be made at the meeting by anyone who has a Paid 2014 Membership. All members are invited to attend. RSVP.

04) KOP Winners

The winners of the Art & Writing Contest for Fall 2014 from Meadowbrook Elementary School are:

  • Best of Show: Hugo Tirado
  • 1st Place Poetry: Jennifer Padilla
  • Honorable Mention Poetry: Carmen Pineda
  • 1st Place Art: Isaac Ortiz 
  • Honorable Mention Art: Yailin Mendoza 

Budding nature mystics.

05) Teaming with Wildlife

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area is honored to be a new certified member of, Teaming With Wildlife: True to Texas, a coalition of groups and businesses supporting wildlife conservation in Texas. The natural world of our state has been fragmented and plundered beyond belief. State government, big business and many citizens have made the state an unfriendly place for wildlife. This needs to change.

This new coalition hopes to address this challenge by encouraging "bi-partisan legislation that can improve wildlife populations and habitat." Check out their website and Facebook pages here:


06) Prairies of the Future

At least two innovative programs are in the works that are bringing prairies back to the Midwest. The Dayton International Airport in Ohio is planting prairie grass on 300 acres of airport land in an effort to mitigate the airport's environmental impact. Read this amazing story on the NPR Nova Next website here:

In Iowa, farmers of corn and soybean crops are integrating "prairie conservation strips" into their fields to help reduce flooding, runoff of sediment and soil nutrients and increase pollinator and bird populations. Read the NY Times report here:

Watch a nifty short video on how STRIPS work at the Leopold Center website here:

07) Milkweed Watch

There is concern among some scientists that widely available Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) may be detrimental to Monarch butterflies. Although it is an attractive nectar plant to the Monarchs it can confuse them during migration and cause disease. Until more data is collected and analyzed about this potential harm, it is recommended that you plant only species native to your region. Here's a Monarch Watch report that explains the risks:

Monarch larva feasting on native, Antelopehorn Milkweed. Photo by Heather Foote

08) Shop Local. Eat Local.

As the crazy shopping season descends upon us, Prairie Fest co-Director and Keep Fort Worth Funky founder, James Zametz has an important message for you. Whenever possible please consider the environment when shopping this year. Shopping local makes a difference. Remember to use these hashtags: #shopfortworth #eatfortworth and #shopsmalleveryday.

BTW: All I want for Christmas is 52.62 acres of local Tandy prairie. Shop here:

09) Coming Attraction

Graphic artist, Jen Schultes, has issued the first teaser graphic promoting the 10th Anniversary Prairie Fest. Check it out!


10) Prairie Proverb

"Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude...If we destroy Creation, it will destroy us"

From the Vatican News Service, May 21, 2014

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.