Past Meetings and Events

January 25, 2017

Seed Cleaning Party Sponsored by Katy Prairie Conservancy:

We will be cleaning seeds collected this fall and putting them in packets to be distributed to people willing to grow them out for KPC’s Great Growout Program. Come and see what these native seeds look like, how to clean them, and take some home. Learn about prairie plants and seeds from KPC experts.   KPC is providing pizza!

February 22, 2017

claudia-vassarClaudia Gee Vassar, interim executive director of the Houston Botanic Garden will speak about plans for the garden, which will be developed on a 120-acre site located on Sims Bayou in the Glenbrook area of Houston.

Claudia is a native Houstonian and Rice graduate who earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. After practicing real estate and corporate law for a decade, Claudia decided to make a career change and began working with Houston nonprofits to help guide them through periods of transition and growth. She served as Interim Executive Director for SIRE, Inc., EMERGE Fellowship, and ArtBridge, and completed consulting projects for local organizations including the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, Young Audiences of Houston, and Main Street Ministries. Claudia is excited to be working intimately with her first green organization and has enjoyed the camaraderie and collaboration to help people enjoy the outdoors and inspire them to be good environmental stewards.

March 22, 2017

Brian Loflin, author of Grasses of the Texas Hill Country: A Field Guide, will be speaking about his book and about Texas grasses!  This meeting is co-sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

April 26, 2017

View More: today’s world, prairie maintenance and establishment seems a bit elusive.  Fragmentation, fire suppression, woody species encroachment, and other factors constantly threaten our prairie systems.  How do we maintain an system that was and is defined by change?  During “The Secret Life of Prairies” we will discuss below and aboveground vegetative dynamics that are the foundation of prairie diversity, productivity, and sustainability.  The mechanisms responsible for prairie function, integrity, and stability will be emphasized to create a meaningful understanding of our prairies processes and ecosystem function.

Texas A&M Assistant Professor and Extension Range Specialist Dr. Morgan Russell’s research has been focused on livestock grazing management and prescribed burning in semiarid environments.

Please note a location change for this month’s meeting
Community Meeting Room
at the South Gessner Police Department
8605 Westplace Drive
Houston, TX 77071

May 24, 2017

Bob Honig from the Katy Prairie Conservancy will be teaching us about the beautiful dragonflies we see around us.  The talk will end with attendees going out into Hermann Park to see what dragonflies we can find!

June 28, 2017

Texas Prairie Restoration: One Goal, Multiple Approaches.  How past land use dictates restoration efforts.

 The primary mission of restoration projects is the reestablishment of native plant communities utilizing historic literature and existing undisturbed habitats as species composition guidelines.  Harris County Flood Control District is currently restoring two different coastal prairies.  While the objective on both properties is the same, restoration of wet prairies, the methods vary.  This talk will detail the differences and similarities of converting a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantation and old rice/cattle allotment into functional coastal prairie.

Andy Newman is the Mitigation Banking Program Manager for the Harris County Flood Control District.  His primary responsibility is the restoration of wetlands and streams to provide no-net loss of waters and wetlands in accordance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for all HCFCD projects.  Properties managed include a variety of habitats including bottomland hardwood forests, prairies, emergent marshes, and pine savannahs.  In addition to restoration, Mr. Newman has experience with wetland ecology, bird biology, identification of sedges and grasses, aquatic insects, and vegetation community classification.

July 26, 2017

Tim White from Environeering, a Houston-based environmental consulting firm, will discuss a project involving remediation of a former oil refinery in the Texoma area and that site’s restoration to native grasslands, riparian and wetland areas.  A Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) was performed on the site and, based on that assessment, approximately 100 acres of wetlands, 30 acres of grasslands and 5 acres of riparian area were constructed.  The talk will cover a brief summary of the sites activities as well as the criteria used to create the restored habitat.

Mr. White is the President of Environeering, Inc. in Houston, Texas.  He has a degree in Aquatic Biology from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and is a Registered Environmental Manager with the National Association of Environmental Professionals.  He has over thirty years of experience in the environmental field and has broad project management experience in the petrochemical, manufacturing and oil & gas industries in the areas of solid and hazardous waste activities and remedial closure standards.  He has extensive experience in environmental remediation and restoration processes and policies at the federal, state and local levels.  Mr. White has served on the Board of Directors of the Houston Audubon Society, and will take over  as president of that board on July 1.

August 23, 2017

Film Festival!

September 27, 2017

Sarah Flourney from Houston Audubon will be talking about their “Bird Friendly Communities” initiative.

Birds are a fascinating way to explore the value of both large prairie systems and smaller pocket prairies. In addition to providing updates on Houston Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities vision and plans for the coming year, the program will highlight Houston’s iconic grassland bird species, where to find them in prairies, and how to manage habitat to support them.

Sarah Flournoy is  the Program Manager for Houston Audubon’s newest initiative, Bird Friendly Communities, which focuses on Houston’s resident and migrating birds. These programs aim to improve habitat for birds, support urban wildlife, and make Houston a happier, healthier place for people. Sarah is a native Houstonian and lifelong learner with a particular interest in how connection to nature improves physical and mental wellbeing. Sarah is also a member of the Texas Regional Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, a board member of The Woods Project, and an advisory board member of Houston Wilderness.

This meeting will be held at the Old Golf Course Clubhouse, 6201 Hermann Park Drive.

October 25, 2017

How Do I Work With My HOA?
Retired geologist, Gulf Coast Master Naturalist and Copperfield resident Julie d’Ablaing will be sharing the story of how she convinced her Homeowners Association to let her install a pocket prairie in a public area.  She’ll discuss how she presented the idea to her HOA, how she solicited help with the installation, prairie maintenance, and lessons learned.  This will be a great primer for anyone who is interested in working with their HOA on a native plant installation!

November 29, 2017

February – 2/24/16

Dr. Angela Laws, Research Assistant Professor in the Biology and Chemistry Department at the University of Houston will discuss how bison modify grasslands and how their foraging is affected by fire.  She will also give a brief overview of two experiments planned for this summer on grasshoppers and insect diversity in prairies.

March – 3/23/16

Harris County Stormwater Quality Department Project Manager Carolyn White will provide an update on current restoration projects.


Keith-Wiess Park in Aldine includes a flood water detention basin that was designed and is managed with stormwater quality features such as stormwater treatment wetlands and stormwater quality monitoring stations.

The Flood Control District’s Stormwater Quality Department works to protect Harris County’s waterways and basins by ensuring that our flood control infrastructure is planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained for long-term stability and environmental protection. As part of the Flood Control District’s Environmental Services Division, the Stormwater Quality Department is involved throughout the lifecycle of all Flood Control District projects in activities such as incorporation of natural channel design elements, constructing stormwater treatment wetlands, revegetation and erosion control, evaluating the effectiveness of Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP), and educating the public about the importance of stormwater quality. Our work is driven by federal, state, and local environmental permit requirements, and inspired by the Flood Control District’s mission to “…provide flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values.”

April – 4/27/16

Michelle Sneck, a PhD candidate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at Rice University will talk about the abundance and powerful influence of tiny endophytic fungi that live hidden inside native prairie grasses.

May – 5/25/16

Terry Rossignol, Refuge Manager at the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR, will speak on plans and projects at the refuge.

June – 6/22/16

Dr. Chelse Prather grew up in the rolling hills of Northern Kentucky, and she was always the girl outside getting dirty and trying to catch animals. Chelse earned her BS in Biology in 2003 at the University of Kentucky, and her PhD in Biology from the University of Notre Dame in 2011. Chelse subsequently had postdoc positions at Florida State University and at University of Houston, and assistant professor positions at Radford University in Virginia, and she is currently at the University of Dayton in Ohio. She has studied insects, plants, lichens, and other organisms in rainforests, desert systems, and currently has a passion for coastal tallgrass prairies. Her current work is funded by the National Science Foundation and  the United States Department of Agriculture, and she is investigating the different factors that determine the abundance and diversity in coastal tallgrass prairies, and, conversely, how the diversity of grasshoppers affect how grasslands function. Her talk entitiled “Insects in prairies: what structures their communities, and how do they affect prairie functioining?” will cover these most recent projects in Texas prairie systems.

July – 7/27/16

David Renninger is a former project manager at MD Anderson Cancer Center from 2009-2016 where he was responsible for managing exterior environments for the institution’s 250-acre Texas Medical Center Campus. During this time, David developed a shared model of sustainability that not only transformed the Houston medical center landscape into an urban refuge for native plants and wildlife, but integrated the health and wellness benefits of nature into the patient care process at the world’s top cancer center.

David’s presentation will share details on establishing and using the prairie restoration site to benefit both people and nature at MD Anderson.

If you missed David’s presentation, you can see it on our YouTube channel.

His PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here – DR_NPAT Priairie Evolution3.

August – 8/24/16


Michelle Sneck, a PhD candidate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at Rice University will talk about the abundance and powerful influence of tiny endophytic fungi that live hidden inside native prairie grasses.

 Endo lifecycle

Please note the change of venue for this meeting only

The August meeting will be held at the University of St. Thomas, 3800 Montrose Blvd in the Anderson Biology building, room 103, There is ample street parking around campus, but most folks will probably want to park on Yoakum or around the Menil. The garage will also be available; however, there is a $5 base rate to park there.

Anderson Biology is Building 20 on this map.
September – 9/28/16
glennolsenGlen Olsen will speak on the birds of upper Gulf Coast and how they use the prairies.  Glenn has had a passionate interest in nature since early childhood. In addition to bird identification, he has a special interest in the relationships of plants, birds, butterflies and other insects. Glenn teaches bird identification and nature related classes at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies and is an instructor for Audubon’s birding classes. He served as State President and Houston Chapter president of the Native Plant Society of Texas. Glenn is a certified Texas Master Naturalist and is a regular speaker for the training program. He leads field trips for the Katy Prairie Conservancy and gives presentations at festivals such as Galveston FeatherFest and the Rockport/Fulton Hummingbird Festival among others. Glenn also leads professional birding and natural history tours for groups and individuals with recent trips to Big Bend, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Amazon Rain Forest and the Galapagos Islands. Find out more on Glenn’s GO Birding Ecotours facebook page.
October – 10/26/16

Houston’s Milkweeds:  Identification, Habitat, Heritage

Don Verser is a prairie conservationist with a special interest in native milkweeds. He is an expert birder who has studied grassland birds in Oklahoma and the fall migration of landbirds on the Upper Texas Coast.  He enjoys photographing insects, especially robber flies.  Don is active in Houston’s birding and native plant communities, where he has led efforts for habitat restoration with a focus on invasive removal and growing plants that support Lepidoptera species. Locally, he is a member of Houston Audubon, Nature Discovery Center, Outdoor Nature Club, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Native Prairie Association of Texas. Don had a long career as a process engineer with Phillips Petroleum and Chevron Phillips Chemical and is now retired. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Everyone is invited to join the Houston Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas for its annual

HNPAT Holiday Potluck
Prairie Seed & Plant Swap — Silent Auction

Please come at 6:00 p.m. to help us setup or
at 6:30 p.m. for refreshment & silent auction viewing / bidding.
Dinner starts at 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Program starts at 7:20 p.m.
  • Wrapup of 2015 by Pat Merkord, Executive Director, NPAT
  • Plans for 2016 and requests for help (see below)
.Many thanks to Diane Kerr and the Gulf Coast Master Naturalists for letting us borrow their table cloth, decorations, and party chafing pans.
A dish to share – vegetable, appetizer, dessert, etc. Meat, bread, and more will be provided by HEB, which generously donated a gift card for the Prairie Conference. So, please come, even if you cannot not bring a dish. If you know ahead of time, what you are planning to bring, please RSVP to
Because of the Houston Zoo’s generosity in supplying the lunch and some of the snacks on Thursday & Friday of the Prairie Conference, HEB’s generously donated gift card was used for lunch and snacks at the Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve’s Teacher’s Workshop & the Texas City Prairie Preserve’s Restoration Workshop. We will be using the residual funds on the gift card to purchase meat and more for the holiday potluck.

Prairie plants and/or seeds for the swap. You do not have to bring anything to take plants/seeds home. A few choice plants might be given out as door prizes.

Money or checkbook for silent auction: framed photos, baskets, one hand blown glass vase, nature serving platter, 2015 & 2014 Prairie Conferences t-shirts (see below for photo). See sections below on “Chapter Finance” and photos of a few silent auction items.

Ideas & volunteerism to help us run the chapter. Plans are to postpone the election of officers to the January, 2016 meeting. Between now and then, please volunteer to attend one or more chapter organizational meeting(s) and to fill an open board or committee chair/member position, and help us write the chapter bylaws.

For more details, go to our W, 12/9 Holiday Potluck Details blog.

Hope to see you at the holiday potluck full of enthusiastic energy to support our chapter!
Photo: Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria). Photo: Page, Lee; Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 HNPAT Meeting: This meeting at Deer Park Prairie (DPP), 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park 77536.

“Birding at Deer Park Prairie: A Look at Birds that Utilize a Coastal Prairie Remnant” presented by Damien Carey, Birding Expert who has been doing bird surveys at DPP since 2013, and Pat Merkord, NPAT Executive Director, Birder and Organizer of DPP Birding Surveys.

Find out how birds rely on and utilize Lawther Deer Park Prairie throughout the year and why this rare remnant prairie is so significant to coastal bird populations including neotropical migrants, grassland species, winter & summer residents and breeding birds. 

Note: The meeting will be at DPP because the conference room at 3015 Richmond Ave. is unavailable that day. Email for carpooling possiblities from Meyerland. Meet at the parking lot near Starbucks & Beck’s Prime at probably 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 HNPAT Meeting:  3015 Richmond, usual time (see above)

“Growing Milkweed Dinners for Monarchs: The Native Milkweeds” presented by Barbara Willy, board member of NPAT, secretary of HNPAT, member of Texas Master Naturalist – Coastal Prairie Chapter, First Vice-President of Sugar Land Garden Club, volunteer at Brazos Bend State Park…

Barbara. who has her own greenhouse will talk about growing native milkweeds and about the Monarch butterfly.  She has installed several Monarch way stations.  Barbara will be bringing a few native milkweeds, probably Asclepias viridis and A. tuberosa as door prizes, so do not forget to sign in.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 HNPAT Meeting:  3015 Richmond Ave. 77098 (parking lot entrance on Eastside) at usual time (see above)

“Grow 9 Natives for Wildlife” presented by Lan Shen, President of HNPAT, coordinator for the (native) Plant Propagation Program of the Gulf Coast Chapter, Texas Master Naturalists (GCMN), member of the Native Prairies Association of Texas.

In pre-European settlement, most of Harris County was coastal tallgrass prairie, with “seas of grass” as “tall as a horse’s belly”, teeming with wildflowers all year and islands of trees with their understory shrubs. Greater than 99% of that nature as well as much of the natural plant life is gone today, decimating the birds and other wildlife that depended these plants and habitat. If everyone one of us would plant 9 or more LOCAL native plants in our gardens, in school and public gardens, in our parks, we can start to repopulate our lost native plants to benefit the wildlife that depend on them. Which 9? Choose from the palette that will be presented at the talk.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 HNPAT meeting:  – at Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion (Hermann Park),
1500 Hermann Dr. 77004 usual time (see above):

Carolyn Fannin showing her iconic photos of the Coastal Prairie and giving tips on photographing the prairie.  Carolyn Fannin’s photos have been published in magazines and one was on the cover of the Native American Seed Catalogue.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 HNPAT meeting: (Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, usual time, see above):

Scott Barnes, Landscape Designer will speak on Using ‘Ecological Landscape Design’ to Create Small-scale Prairies. Scott Barnes, Landscape Designer and owner of his own company, Applied Habitats, specializes in restoring native plant communities including prairies in urban (City of Houston Permit Building, Green Roof Design and Installation) and rural (George Ranch, Fort Bend County) areas.

Scott will be defining and explaining the importance of the guiding principle that he uses for his projects – Ecological Landscape Design. He will explain how to use the science of ecology and design – as separate but equal bases – for selecting and assembling plant populations and plant communities so that the human and ecological criteria will be met.

Scott will also provide practical “how-to’s” of putting in small-scale prairies or prairie gardens.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 HNPAT Meeting:

Wildlife Habitat Federation:
Restoring Native Grasses for Quail on Rural Ranches and for Urban Pocket Prairies

by Jim Willis, Rancher

Photo from Coastal Prairie Partnership video of Jim Willis discussing Restoration. “Jim’s efforts to restore prairies and connect a wildlife corridor west of Houston for northern bobwhite quail has won him recognition and respect as a conservationist.”

Jim Willis, Rancher from Cat Springs and founder of the Wildlife Habitat Federation on the prairies just west of Houston, converted his ranch to native prairie and then convinced many of his neighbors to do so in order to create a wildlife prairie corridor that they manage for bobwhite quail. Jim’s technique of planting prairie grasses using the seed drill has been applied to Urban pocket prairies such as the MD Anderson prairie on Fannin and projects at the Exxon facility in the Woodlands.See HNPAT blog “Wildlife Habitat Federation & Audio of Bob White Quail Calls” for more information about Jim and this topic. The Coastal Prairie Partnership website has two videos of Jim:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 HNPAT meeting: Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion (Hermann Park), usual time (see above)

“Fauna of Deer Park Prairie vs. Sheldon Lake State Park Prairie”

by Texas Parks & Wildlife Intern, Pablo Pardo

Texas Park & Wildlife Department Intern Pablo Pardo will talk about his summer wildlife surveys of two local prairies: the Deer Park and Sheldon Lake State Park prairies. The surveys will create a baseline species list for DPP (a relatively undisturbed prairie) and SLSP a 10 year old restored prairie system. He plans to do small mammal trapping, amphibian/reptile trapping, bird observations, camera traps, acoustic loggers and possibly insect surveys in both prairies. The frog logger that was installed by Kelly Norrid & Diana Foss on January 28, 2015 (see video – since I do not know how to edit the video, start watching the video at the 2 minute mark.)  Pablo is working under the supervision of Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Urban Biologist, Kelly Norrid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 HNPAT meeting: Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion (Hermann Park), usual time (see above)

Educating our Future: Outdoor Experiences on the Coastal Prairies

by Savannah Salazar, New Educator at Deer Park Prairie

Come and meet the new Educator at Deer Park Prairie, Savannah Salazar. She is there thanks to a grant by Shell Deer Park Manufacturing Complex to Bayou Land Conservancy. Hear about plans at Deer Park Prairie for children’s outdoor education and hear her talk about: “Outdoor learning experiences stimulate students minds and also gets them excited about  learning. Through education, we can influence our future to better protect and restore this critically endangered environment.

Wednesday, September 23:

Wednesday, September 23
Monitoring NPAT Conservation Easements:
Annual Plant and Bird Survey Techniques

By Phillip Quast,
Program Director, Native Prairies Association of Texas

Many HNPAT (Houston Chapter, Native Prairies Association of Texas) members know NPAT as prairie landowner, specifically as owner of Deer Park Prairie. As landowner, NPAT is responsible for the work and cost involved in managing and preserving the Deer Park Prairie. However, NPAT actually protects slightly more than half its acreage as the conservation easement holder rather than landowner. In that capacity, NPAT would annually monitor the property to ensure that the landowner abided by the terms of the conservation easement. That is the role of Bayou Land Conservancy with regards to Deer Park Prairie.

November, 2015

Thursday, November 12 – Saturday November 14
@ Houston Zoo & Area Prairies

Workshops @ Area Prairies, Saturday, November 14
(free- $25, lunch included)


Thanks to the conference host – Houston Zoo & area vendors who donated food to the Prairie Conference & Workshop. Go to the home page of the conference website for a list of all our wonderful sponsors!

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