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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.

The State of Our Union is Strong

Prairie Notes #90
June 1, 2014

1) The State of Our Union is Strong
2) Field Notebook
3) Kids on the Prairie Summary
4) Stuff You Can Use
5) New Prairie Fest Era Begins
6) Local Prairie @ Local Library
7) State of the Prairie Conference Summary
8) Hot Off the Press News
9) Prairie Proverb

1) The State of Our Union is Strong

The Summer Solstice is coming right up on June 21, capping a bountiful and productive season for Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area (FOTHNA). This King-size Summer Solstice Issue is jam-packed with important news, reports and photos, as you will read below.

But first, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to report that, the state of our FOTHNA union is strong. We have laid the groundwork for the future while making efforts to keep Tandy Hills like it was, which is not a contradiction.

2014, so far:

- Prairie Fest #9 was another success on every level
- Kids on the Prairie: Year 4, was the best yet
- Membership is steady but... (see #4 below)
- FOTHNA had a key role in the Native Prairies Association of Texas regional conference
- FOTHNA's relationship with the City of Fort Worth has never been better
- FOTHNA was recognized by the City of Fort Worth Mayor & Council with a proclamation
- More than 1,000 people have subscribed to Prairie Notes
- Facebook "Likes" have exceeded 1700 people
- For the first time, a single Facebook posting reached more than 2000 people
- More people than ever before are visiting Tandy Hills

Most important, dear reader, is our relationship with you. Please continue your support of Friends of Tandy Hills by becoming a Member and by immersing yourself often in Tandy Hills.


Where the hills meet the sky at Tandy Hills Natural Area.

2) Field Notebook

In my eternal quest to find precise metaphors to describe the current state of my local prairie, I've determined that, the Tandy Hills in late Spring 2014 look like a big lumpy mattress covered in a thick and colorful grandma quilt. During the month of May, the early jewel-tone bloomers that dominated the prairie slowly gave way to a thick carpet of less vivid wildflowers as the grasses steadily make their way to center stage.

White-flowering plants such as, White Milkwort, Bishop's Weed, Barbara's Buttons, Prairie Bluets, White Larkspur and Yucca reigned over the prairie realm in May and some are still present. Tangles of Crameria, Sensitive Briar and Yellow Puff are still slithering underfoot. Mock Pennyroyal with its slender purple flowers is currently adding a lemony aroma to the air while a few colorful exotics like, Horsemint, Queen's Delight, Lance-leaf Loosetrife, Prairie Brazoria and American Basketflower assert their nobility here and there. In late May, Purple Coneflower is starting to ascend the botanical throne.

Don't just the lyrical plant names alone make you want to spend an hour feeding your soul at Tandy Hills? Come on into the natural shelter of the great outdoors. It's a proven way to lift your spirits, improve your immunity, creativity, memory and performance and get your blood pumping. Accept no substitute.

The lumpy mattress known as Tandy Hills Natural Area in late May has a ton of diversity per square foot.

Milkwort in early may on the Hawk Trail Loop leads the parade of white-flowered plants.

Barbara's Button Hill, is a delightful place to meditate in mid-May.

Bishop's Weed makes a delicate impact on the late Spring prairie.

White Prairie Larkspur had an excellent year at Tandy Hills.

Lance-leaf Loosetrife, uncommon last year is thriving in 2014.

Queen's Delight is one of the few green-ish colored wildflowers at Tandy Hills.

Horsemint, aka: Lemon Beebalm, is beautifully complicated.

Ditto the amazing complexity of American Basketflower.

Purple Coneflower is one of the iconic plants of Tandy Hills and is just starting to bloom across the hills.

Yellow Puff is on of three vine-like species commonly found weaving through the prairie grasses.

3) Kids on the Prairie Summary

Possibly the best Kids on the Prairie, ever, on May 15. The nifty NEW field journal was well received, the weather was great, the wildflowers were in full bloom, the volunteers were enthusiastic, the kids were well behaved and involved.

KOP Director, Anne Alderfer, with help from Jen Schultes and Debora Young deserve a lot of credit for making this innovative program a success and the standard for others to follow. Are we proud? You betcha!

Our goal is nothing less than to reverse the trend of nature disconnect disorder by educating and inspiring a new generation of Fort Worth kids to become leaders in environmental stewardship at the highest levels of local, state and federal government.

Read more about KOP here:

Master Naturalist, Bill Hall making an impression on his group of kids.

Suzanne Tuttle, of the FW nature Center & Refuge leads her group of KOPers. (Photo by John Tandy.)

Lucky kids get serenaded during lunch by Master Naturalist and accordionist, George McBride.

Class of 2014 had fun and learned a lot in Kids on the Prairie: Year 4.

4) Stuff You Can Use

Very cool Earth-friendly gifts await when you Become a Friend. Help us help Tandy Hills by clicking this Membership link:

Tandy Hills organic cotton bandana's are one of the unique gifts available with a FOTHNA Membership.

5) New Prairie Fest Era Begins

On May 27, Debora & Don Young announced that are stepping down as directors of Prairie Fest, the event that began in their front yard in 2006. Stepping up are Jen Schultes and James Zametz. Jen, of tiNGtiNG design, is the graphic designer extraordinaire behind all FOTHNA publications, website, posters, et al. James is the founder of Keep Fort Worth Funky. Both are dedicated to upholding the high environmental standards of FOTHNA.

2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the greenest little fest in Texas. I can't imagine a better team to lead this important event in it's milestone year and beyond as we continue building awareness of the importance of the natural world in north Texas.

The Young's will continue to be deeply involved in all other FOTHNA programs and activities.

l-r: Debora Young, Don Young and Jenny Conn administer the Prairie Fest Pledge to Jen Schultes and James Zametz.

A new era of Prairie Fest leadership has begun.

6) Local Prairie @ Local Library

Your local prairie is now available at your local library. The Fort Worth Library recently purchased 7 copies of the newly published, Prairie Wildflowers Illustrated, by Debora Young. They will soon be available for borrowing at the Central, Southwest Regional, East Regional, East Berry and Ella Mae Shamblee branches.

Also, available for sale at

Catalog of FW Central Library has a new title coming soon.

7) State of the Prairie Conference Summary

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area was a participating institution and played a major role at the State of the Prairie Conference held in Fort Worth this past week. On May 29, FOTHNA Founders, Debora & Don Young along with Kids on the Prairie (KOP) Director, Anne Alderfer, led a Field Experience tour of Tandy Hills for about 20 enthusiastic folks from around the state. After a 1.5 hour hike across the prairie hills, they were joined by KOP field journal designer, Jen Schultes, to share their experience in creating the innovative programs and events for Tandy Hills and how they engage with the public.

At a May 31 indoor session at FW Botanic Gardens, KOP Director, Anne Alderfer, delivered a presentation on Field Trips with School Partners. She was joined by our KOP partner, Fort Worth ISD Exploratory Learning Specialist, Kathy Cash. Also on the bill was, Prairie Fest committee member, Heather Foote, who gave a wide-ranging talk on her Earth education initiatives with Prairie Keepers.

Conference attendees were well served by our team, taking what they learned back to their own prairies across the state to help make a better world.

KXAS/NBC-5 paid a visit to the Field Experience and broadcast this report:

The Field Experience at Tandy Hills drew about 20 prairie enthusiasts from across Texas.

Networking over lunch at the Outdoor Classroom.

8) Hot Off the Press News

---from Fort Worth ISD, May 31, 2014:

Since 2012 there has been "a steady increase in the number of 5th grade students at Meadowbrook Elementary School who performed at the State recommended level in science."

2012- 55%
2013- 60%
2014- 71%

Meadowbrook Elementary School is a Kids on the Prairie adopted school and has participated in the program since it began in 2011. We get a new crop of enthusiastic 4th graders each year.

The upward trend at Meadowbrook ES is NOT widespread across the city. Is there a connection between these improved test scores and the science-based field investigations at Tandy Hills? We can't say for certain but we think with our newly-minted, gold-standard field journals we expect the trend to continue.

New Field Journal used by Kids on the Prairie may contribute to improved science test scores.

9) Prairie Proverb

"Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives."

Thomas Berry, from The Dream of the Earth, Sierra Club Books,1988

FWISD Exploratory Learning Specialist, Kathy Cash, leads a group of Kids on the Prairie with her distinctive style.

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.