Past Meetings and Events

Since April, 2020, most of HNPAT’s monthly meetings have been recorded. They were recorded whenever we received permission to record. Links to these videos are under the title of the talk. Check out our HNPAT Youtube playlists at

Note: No November HNPAT meeting. Save the Date – Wednesday, December 2, 2020 for the Virtual Prairie Stampede. Go to home page ( for more information.

September 23, 2020 program:
Forrest S. Smith of Texas A&M University-Kingsville on His New Book A Photographic Guide to Vegetation of the South Texas Sand Sheet

Forrest S. Smith is the Dan L Duncan Endowed Director of the Texas Native Seeds Program at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Forrest has worked since 2001 with the native plant conservation programs of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. He began working with the Institute as an undergraduate student technician, and began leading the efforts of the South Texas Natives Project in 2008. Under his direction, these initiatives rapidly grew to the now statewide Texas Native Seed Program beginning in 2011. Today he oversees a staff of 12 working to develop native seed sources for use in all regions of the state, and in support of conducting research and outreach activities supporting native plant conservation and restoration. Forrest conducts development activities to underpin the program, and also leads outreach, collaboration, and advocacy efforts with a wide range of cooperators, agencies, and industry partners. His work has helped restore tens of thousands of acres of native plant communities in Texas, and resulted in substantial increases in native seed supply for many areas of the state. He is stationed in Austin, TX. xx

August, 2020 program:
Barbara Willy of Monarch Gateway on
Master Class Secrets of Milkweed Propagation and Significance to Prairie / Pollinator Habitat Restoration
Video of presentation at

Green Milkweed, Asclepias viridis. Photo by Chuck Duplant at Deer Park Prairie.

Due to Hurricane Laura, rescheduled to Wednesday, September 2, 2020, same time, same zoom registration link

Barbara Keller-Willy, former corporate continuous improvement executive with Siemens Corporation, is now Founder and Director of a Fort Bend County non-profit, Monarch Gateway. Monarch Gateway that seeks to create contiguous pollinator habitat across the coastal and central flyways of Texas. She is a lead partner with the Field Museum in Chicago and US Fish and Wildlife in the creation of a multi-city Urban Monarch Conservation Plan and is President-elect of our own Native Prairies Association of Texas and is also a certified Texas Master Naturalist with Fort Bend’s Coastal Prairie Texas Master Naturalist chapter. Her interest in native prairie restoration led her on an eight-year quest to develop a propagation method for the finicky native milkweeds of Texas.xx

July 22, 2020 Program:
Birding Texas by Glenn Olsen
Video of presentation at

June 24, 2020 Program:
David Bezanson on Preserving Prairies by Conservation Easements, Including Prairies Saved in 2019
Video of presentation at


May 27, 2020 Program 
Native Plants for Green Roofs by Bruce Dvorak
No recording

Bruce Dvorak, professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M and part of the Interdisciplinary Green Roof Research Group will present on using native plants for green roof. He has a upcoming book.


Due to Covid-19:

All HNPAT in person events have been cancelled until further notice.
Deer Park Prairie will be closed to visitors until further notice.


April, 2020 (scroll down for hnpat meeting & video information)

In this month of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, HNPAT invites you to two activities:

  • “Participate in Houston’s City Nature Challenge 2020”, a children friendly video by Della Barbato (NPAT Education Director), Shannon Westveer, and Kirsti Harms (NPAT Executive Director)
  • Our HNPAT monthly meeting lecture “Nine Natives for the Shade” on Zoom on Wednesday, April 29


“Participate in Houston’s City Nature Challenge 2020” A children friendly video sent by Della Barbato, NPAT Education Director:

Going stir-crazy at home?  Want to get outside and have some fun?  Want to help the Greater Houston area through observation of your natural surroundings?  Then join us and learn how to participate in the City Nature Challenge!  It is so easy to participate from your backyard, nearby park or waterway.  First, download the iNaturalist app onto your phone.  Then today on Earth Day, April 22, check out this instructional video ( ) on how you can participate in Houston’s City Nature Challenge 2020!  We present how to observe and photograph plants, insects, reptiles or animals on your smartphone and post them to iNaturalist.  Observations posted on the iNaturalist app during the 4-day challenge April 24th to 27th will automatically be counted for the City Nature Challenge for the area wherever you observe.

(More updates on City Nature Challenge at our blog


April 29, 2020 Program:

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our monthly meeting will be online and will be on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm so as to not conflict with online events on Earth Day.

Video of presentation at

In an effort to promote the use of native plants in our urban and suburban gardens – in lieu of horticultural species – the Houston Native Prairie Association (HNPAT) in collaboration with the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC), Central Prairie Partnership (CPP) and Clark Condon Landscape Architecture developed the Nine Natives Program in 2018.

Native species add beauty to our gardens while providing food and homes for pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies, and other wildlife. They are adapted to our environment with less need for maintenance, water and fertilizers and more resistance to pests and other garden problems.

With the successful implementation of this program, another challenge has been accepted: Create a similar program for native plantings in shade gardens. As majestic live oaks and other mature trees enhance our gardens, the shade they provide creates a need – and an opportunity – for shade species. What are these species that can enhance our shade gardens while optimizing habitat.

Join Beth Clark and the other board members of the HNPAT in a Zoom Meeting to discuss the search for the “Shady Nine.”

Beth Clark is Vice-President of HNPAT and a Principal with Clark Condon, a 30-person Landscape Architecture design firm in Houston. Clark Condon’s work includes a wide variety of commercial, educational, developer and public projects. Plants are an important part of the projects and environments that landscape architects create; Beth’s interest in design with native plants continues as a life-long study.

Due to Covid-19:

All HNPAT in person events have been cancelled through April.

Deer Park Prairie will be closed to visitors until further notice.

City Nature Challenge (

“…this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can…”

Sorry to be missing this year’s Spring Wildflower Day? Check out photos of our Spring Wildflower Day 2018 at . Enjoy Deer Park Prairie nature photos  at our Flickr Account


Stay safe and heed public health guidelines of your local government!


After much deliberation, and in line with the CDC’s guidance on keeping social distance, the HNPAT board has decided to cancel our March 25th program meeting. We hope to reschedule this speaker for later in the year. We thank you for your continuing support and hope everyone remains safe during this difficult time.


Spring Wildflower Day – Cancelled


March 7, 2020


February 26, 2020

February Meeting: Managing Prairies with Diversity in Mind
Tim Siegmund

Texas Parks & Wildlife Private Lands Program Leader
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

American Red Cross Building, 2700 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77098
6:30 social, 7:00 meeting starts
Cost: free. All welcome!

Tim Siegmund works for Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and leads its Private Lands and Habitat Program, whose goal “is to provide advice and information to private landowners interested in the conservation and development of wildlife habitat on their property“.
Tim earned a bachelor’s degree and did graduate research at Stephen F. Austin State University and then joined TPWD in 2009. Working out of College Station, Tim was responsible for seven counties, performing wildlife surveys, public outreach, technical guidance, prescribed fire assistance, public hunting opportunity, wildlife tax valuation planning and dealing with other wildlife issues. He was the TPWD field lead for the Pastures for Upland Birds program that focuses on native grassland restoration. He has facilitated the planting of over 4,000 acres of native grasses and forbs since 2011. Starting November 1, 2017, Tim began his role as the Private Lands Program Leader for TPWD dealing with private lands issues in a statewide capacity. Recently, Tim became a board member of the Native Prairies Association of Texas. Tim resides in College Station with his wife and two children.*

January 23, 2019

Seed Cleaning Party Co-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 27, 2019

Della Barbato, “Inspiring Through Education at Lawther Deer Park Prairie”

NPAT AMBASSADOR, Della joined the NPAT staff in April, 2018 as our Director of Education and is based in the Houston area.  (Shell Oil Company bestowed a grant to benefit individuals in their own backyard, the city of Deer Park, TX.)  Ms. Barbato teaches levels K-9 (to so many young prairie people!)  through her adult programs and teacher workshops in addition to K-12 prairie programs.  Della has become the image of NPAT, conservation, prairies, and more to so many prairie people!

Also, board member Hazel Potvin will bring up to-to-date on the progress at the Prairie Demo Garden at Willow Waterhole, which Don Verser has been working on.


March 20, 2019

Wildflowers of Texas author Michael Eason will be our special March speaker!
Michael Eason works in the private sector as a conservation botanist for Texas Flora, a Facebook group devoted to plant identification in Texas and adjacent states in Mexico. He performs botanical inventories and rare plant surveys on private and public lands, primarily in the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion. Previously, he served as the plant conservation coordinator for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in botany from Texas State University and is working on a master’s degree at Sul Ross State University.




April 24, 2019

Kirsti Harms, interim executive director for the Native Prairies Association of Texas and Pat Merkord, immediate past executive director, will share information about NPAT successes at Madden Prairie.

Maddin Prairie Preserve features remnant and restored mixed-grass prairie, mesquite savanna, and riparian areas. A tributary of Champion Creek passes through the property and features a diverse riparian area.

Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and Sand Dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus) are common grasses.

Maddin Prairie Preserve also provides habitat for the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum), a threatened species in Texas, and Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus). A Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) reintroduction is in progress.

April 27, 2019

Spring Prairie Day at Lawther – Deer Park Prairie!

May 22, 2019

Ben Hutchins from Texas Parks and Wildlife will present on Invertebrate Conservation

June 2 – 6, 2019

NA Prairie Conference

June 26, 2019

David-RDavid Riley, staff biologist with Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, will present on range land ecology.

Plateau Land & Wildlife Management has been helping rural landowners protect and enhance their rural land since 1997. Plateau was born out of a law that was passed in 1995 by the Texas Legislature that made it possible for folks with an Ag valuation to maintain their same property tax savings while managing for native habitat and wildlife, instead of livestock, crops, timber or any other open-space management requirements. Plateau stepped up to help hundreds of landowners across Texas make this transition to Wildlife Management Valuation, and along the way, realized that there were many folks who needed more than just a Wildlife Management Plan to get their Wildlife Valuation in place.



July 24, 2019


Laura and Adrian Berg of Crossbone Corns will present on Snakes of Texas.  Educating people about the snakes that are indigenous to Texas is a passion at Crossbone Corns. We feel that if people understand the native wildlife, they are more likely to respect it. That respect makes nature safer for the animals and people involved.

Plus, we’ll have a Moth Night event out at Deer Park Prairie!

August 28, 2019


Nathan Rains, TPWD Wildlife Diversity Biologist in the Cross Timbers and Hill Country Wildlife Districts will present on Texas Horned Lizard Restoration.

Everyone loves horny toads, but for many Texans the fierce-looking, yet amiable, reptiles are only a fond childhood memory. Once common throughout most of the state, Horned Lizards have disappeared from many parts of their former range.  Come learn what the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is doing to help preserve Horned Lizards and their habitat.

Nathan has and B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Texas A&M and an MS from LSU.  He started his career with the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries in 1998 and moved to Texas to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife in 2000.  He is currently a Wildlife Diversity Biologist.


Fall is

Check out all the activities at


September 25, 2019


Susan Conaty will present History of Nash Prairie and other Dumb Luck Stories

Susan’s presentation will address the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and the one H (how) the Nash Prairie came to be owned by The Nature Conservancy.

Susan became a Cradle of Texas Master Naturalist in 2001 and have been a volunteer land steward for the Nash Prairie since 2010. Recently she have completed an 11-month job as an AmeriCorps Member working as an assistant land Steward for the Columbia Bottomland Preserves for The Nature Conservancy, which includes the Nash Prairie, Mowotony Prairie, Brazos Woods, and The San Bernard Woods in Brazoria and Matagorda county.

Fall Prairie Day also happens in September!

October 2019

In lieu of an October meeting, HNPAT is promoting the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s (CEC)

“Wild About Houston: A Green Film Festival”

Wed, October 16, 2019 (3rd Wednesday of the month)
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM CDT
Rice University Media Center
2030 University Blvd., Houston, TX 77030

Meet your fellow HNPAT members at the “one-night screening of short environmental films from the Greater Houston Area that tell the story of local environmental issues, their champions and how you can make a difference.” Free though donation to CEC is appreciated.

For more information and to register for eventbrite ticket click this link.

There will NOT be a monthly HNPAT meeting on fourth Wednesday, October 23.

November 2, 2019
Special Members Only event at Deer Park Prairie!


Star Party at Deer Park Prairie
Saturday, November 2

Join us for a special NPAT/HNPAT MEMBERS ONLY Star Party with the Houston Astronomical Society on Saturday, November 2, at Deer Park Prairie. All participants must be a current member or part of a family membership of NPAT/HNPAT (or a member of HAS). Not a member? Not a problem. Join at before registering for this event or join when you come to the event.

We will provide hot chocolate and light snack. RSVP IS REQUIRED, so we can set up enough telescopes and for food count and in case we need to cancel due to inclement weather or cloudy sky. RSVP at

Location: Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve at 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park, TX 77536
Time, date: 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, November 2, 2019 (weather permitting)
NPAT/HNPAT members only (or HAS member)
Telescopes and expertise generously provided by the Houston Astronomical Society.
Wear closed-toe shoes & long pants, for we may be walking to the viewing platform.
For more information, email


December 4, 2019

Annual Prairie Stampede!

January 23, 2018
Seed Cleaning and Packing Pizza Party Sponsored by Katy Prairie Conservancy

January 24, 2018

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!

March 29, 2018 

John Louis Pat Mercado Gregg Dimmick Bernardo
Come learn about what lies beneath the prairie!  The presentation will be an introduction to the archaeology of  Houston and the Gulf Coast area, covering several archaeological surveys and excavations conducted by the Houston Archaeological Society recently, which have resulted in the discovery of prehistoric and historic sites and the recovery of many important artifacts.  We look forward to showing your group how we “dig up Texas history, one trowel full at a time”!
Linda Gorski is a researcher and writer who has had a lifelong interest in archaeology and history.  She has been an avocational archaeologist for 40 years and currently serves as President of the Houston Archaeological Society, leading the society in surveys and excavations in Houston and Southeast Texas.    She was also appointed by the Texas Historical Commission to serve as a  member of the Texas Archaeological Stewards Network, a group of highly trained avocational archaeologists who work closely with THC professionals.
Louis Aulbach, a native Houstonian, is a graduate of St. Thomas High School, Rice University and the University of Chicago. He retired in 2008 after over seventeen years as the Records Management Officer for the City of Houston.    He served on the Harris County Historical Commission in the 2009-2010 term.     Aulbach is vice president of Houston Archaeological Society and is also a member of the Texas Archaeological Stewards Network.  Gorski and Aulbach are authors of several books including a series of  guides to paddling the rivers of west Texas, including the Rio Grande, the Devils and the Pecos Rivers.  They have also written a history of Houston as it developed along Buffalo Bayou titled “Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings” and  a book on Camp Logan, a WWI training center that was built in what is now Memorial Park.  They are currently writing a series of walking guides to archaeological sites in Rome.

April 25, 2018

Alligators snapping turtles

Turtles are part of the prairie ecosystem too!  As prairie people, we don’t always think about turtles – join Eric Munscher as he shares some interesting information on the several turtle species of the Gulf Coast prairie.

Eric C. Munscher is currently a Research Ecologist with SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) and is based in Houston, Texas.  He obtained his B.Sc from Penn State University and an M.Sc from the University of North Florida in 2007.  Eric is also the Principal Investigator of the Turtle Survival Alliance’s – North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (NAFTRG).  Eric has been studying turtle populations in Florida and Texas Springs for over 19 years.  Eric is also a Florida certified Gopher Tortoise agent.  He has extensive experience in wetland delineation and threatened and endangered species surveys throughout the southeast and northeast regions.  (Photographed by Arron Tuggle).

April 28, 2018

Spring Prairie Day at Lawther – Deer Park Prairie!

May 23, 2018


This is the reschedule of the cancelled meeting originally scheduled for February.

This month we have the honor of hosting Jim Blackburn, who will be discussing the Texas Coastal Exchange, a system developed at the Severe Storm Prevention, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (“SSPEED”) Center at Rice University, for buying and selling ecological services such as carbon sequestration, water supply enhancement, flood mitigation and fish and wildlife enhancement. Restoration of coastal and inland prairies is a key driver of Texas Coastal Exchange, and this restoration along with certain grazing techniques could revolutionize conservation thinking as well as the farm and ranch economy and the oil and gas industry.

Jim Blackburn is an environmental lawyer and professor in the practice of Environmental Law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University.  At Rice, Blackburn is a Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute, co-director of the SSPEED Center and directs the undergraduate minor in Energy and Water Sustainability.  Texas A&M Press published Blackburn’s Book of Texas Bays in 2004 and his new book, A Texan Plan for the Texas Coast, was published in 2017 by Texas A&M Press. Blackburn has also co-authored a book of poems and paintings with artist Isabelle Scurry Chapman titled Birds: A Book of Verse and Vision.  Blackburn still maintains his private law firm, Blackburn Carter, and also owns a planning firm called Sustainable Planning and Design that is working on coastal Louisiana land loss issues including restoration.

Plus stay tuned for a special Members Only event at Deer Park Prairie in May!

June 27, 2018

Wally pp

Wally Ward will present a program on native plant propagation.  Cultivating plants successfully from seed is something like law practice:  many times cases turn on the facts. An experimental frame of mind and information from experts can bring success, especially with native plants. Occasional crop failures are also a learning tool,  he shall be blunt about what can go wrong, too. Many desirable natives are difficult to obtain as mature plants, so some expertise and success with seeds can festoon a garden with nectar and host plants for butterflies, bees, moths and beetles plus hummingbirds. He shall review topics relating to soils, seed storage, seed sprouting and care of seedlings.

Wally was born in Atlanta and spent his first six years across the street from a creek valley and large park in the Collier Forest section of Atlanta, where he would see nuts and seeds sprouting all around. He also resided in Camp Hill, PA; Alexandria, VA; and Bartlesville, OK in addition to Houston. Frequent trips to California and Florida  introduced him to the flora of those areas as well. He learned to sprout “easy” seeds such as from zinnias, marigolds and the like to assist his mother’s highly successful flower-arranging activities with the National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs  including making flower arrangements for a dinner at the Ford White House during his family’s long tenure in the Washington, D.C., area. His non-botanical career included practicing law; serving as a commercial arbitrator; being employed as a gas-industry lobbyist; and being a public-affairs and an environmental-compliance manager in the oil patch.

Plus we’ll co-host the Invasive Species ID and Treatment Workshop at Deer Park Prairie on June 23 as part of the Coastal Prairie Partnership!

July 25, 2018

Stuart Marcus

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Manager Stuart Marcus will present a program on Moths of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Stuart Marcus is the first and current Refuge Manager of the 30,000 acre Trinity River National Wildlife located in Liberty, TX. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1977 with a degree in Wildlife Ecology.

 Stuart worked as a seasonal forester with the U. S. Forest Service in 1977 and 1978 at Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina.  He started his career with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1979 as a Biological Technician at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge located in north Florida.  He went on to work as an Assistant Refuge Manager at three other refuges, throughout different parts of Florida.  He was promoted to Refuge Manager of the Trinity River Refuge in June, 1994.  His long-time interest in birds and butterflies now includes moths.

Plus Katy Emde and John Schneider will present a special moth event at Deer Park Prairie on Saturday, July 28 beginning at 8:30 p.m.  We’ll put up moth stations and view and ID the moths that come in.

August 22, 2018

Dr. Wade Harrell, the U.S. Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, will present on Whooping Crane conservation. As a fifth generation Texan with a passion for conservation, his early years in South Texas afforded him his enthusiasm for wildlife, marine life and ecosystems. He has degrees from Texas A&M-Kingsville and Oklahoma State University. After obtaining his PhD in rangeland ecology in 2004, he returned to Texas and served with The Nature Conservancy for six years. In 2009, Dr. Harrell began work at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where he led a team of biologists in restoring and maintaining diverse wildlife habitats.

September 26, 2018


Amie Treuer- Kuehn from Texas Parks and Wildlife will talk about their Texas Ecosystem Analytical Mapper (“TEAM”) project.   TEAM is an interactive mapping tool to assist in understanding Texas habitats and to integrate Ecological Mapping Systems Data with land management and resource planning of all types.

Amie Treuer-Kuehn is a Plant Ecologist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). She received her B.S. and M.S degree in Biology with a focus on Plant Ecology.  In 2007 she was hired on at TPWD as the Botanist/Plant Ecologist for the GIS Lab. Since then Amie has worked as the lead field Ecologist for the Ecological Mapping Systems of Texas, the Ecology Coordinator for the Conservation Opportunity Areas Project, TEAM application designer, and serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Balcones Canyonlands Preserve She was acknowledged for her efforts by TPWD in 2011 when she received the Employee Recognition Award in Conservation and in 2012 he Governor’s office honored her with the “Outstanding Women in Texas Government Award”.

Fall Prairie Day also happens in September!

October 17, 2018


November 28, 2018

Facebook Event Card - 2018 Prairie Stampede

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!

Houston_Zoo_logo.svg         Logo_of_the_HEB_Grocery_Company,_LP   taco-cabana-logo-249x77    starbucks