Join Us to Honor John Egan, Recipient of HNPAT’s 2020 Prairie Volunteer Award

John Egan at Sheldon Lake SP, November, 2020

HNPAT (Houston Chapter – Native Prairies Association of Texas) will be presenting its 2020 Prairie Volunteer Award to John Egan on Wednesday, December 2 (6:30 pm to 8:30 pm), at the annual Prairie Stampede via zoom this year (registration required at this link). (See flyer here)

John Egan mentoring volunteers at Sheldon Lake S.P.

The award is given to John especially for his work over the years at Sheldon Lake State Park as well as his other prairie volunteer work. In 2008, shortly after joining the Prairie Restoration Team at Sheldon Lake S.P. under the mentorship of Tom Solomon and Jim Duron, John became the leader of that Team. In that capacity he provided weekly planning for volunteers and served as the interface between Park Staff and the Prairie Team.

Sample of Report Documenting Results at Sheldon Lake S.P.

He also gathered and maintained detailed records of the Prairie Team efforts which included the names of volunteers and their hours, planting and propagation data by plant type, planting location information, and plant type inventory records. (Example Summary Report attached).

He also planned and lead Sheldon’s annual Prairie Plant-a-thons over the past decade which involved working with 100 or so volunteers and school groups to plant 1000-2000 new plants into the prairie.

Working closely with LyondellBasell Corporation and Park Staff, John has been the focal point for GCMN Chapter to receive grants supporting Sheldon activities. Grants to date now total $22,500.

John had become a Gulf Coast Master Naturalist in the Spring of 2008 and then served on the Chapter Board for 4 years as Secretary. He has participated in other prairie volunteer work. Periodically he participated as a team mentor at Armand Bayou Nature Center assisting volunteers for their annual Prairie Pandemonium event. He was also active at Jesse Jones helping to remove invasives off trail to allow native grasses and forbs room and sunlight to rebound. Also at Jesses Jones, with the help of GCMN volunteers, 100 native grasses and forbs were planted in the park’s pocket prairie. John is also a member of the Green Team at the Houston Parks Board. And when not involved in restoring native habitat, John spent several years at Sheldon trapping invasive beetles for a project sponsored by the USDA.

In 2016, John received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service signed by President Barack Obama. In 2019, TPWD recognized John with the Stars in our Parks award for his work at Sheldon.  This year he will have achieved approximately 7500 volunteer hours much of which has been dedicated to prairie restoration. He continues to volunteer weekly at Sheldon as a member of the Prairie Team splitting his efforts to all the various activities. Going forward however he plans to spend more time on invasive management allowing the native prairie, now restored by restoration planting, to maintain a long and productive life.

John also sent the following thanks:

“Thank You From John Egan
2020 Prairie Stampede

I would like to thank HNPAT for this very valued recognition coming at a time in my life I can really
appreciate it. Special thanks to my wife Trish (an indoor girl), for her continued support to all my
outdoor adventures. Thanks to Tom Solomon for keeping the faith and to all the current members of the
Prairie Team at Sheldon consisting of Texas Master Naturalist and Park volunteers:
Gulf Coast Chapter – Paulette Pittman
Melinda Kincaid
Joan Ward
Jane Shaw
Chatt Smith
Galveston Bay Area Chapter – Lana Burkowitz
Tom Solomon
Lower Trinity Basin Chapter – Mindee Poldrack
TPWD Volunteers – Glenn Braden
Kaveh Moghadam
Gus Cei

And a final thanks to Sheldon Lake Superintendent Kelley Parker and Resource Ranger Matthew Moore
for providing the opportunity.”

Jim Duron Honored with HNPAT’s 2019 Prairie Volunteer Award

Jim Duron upon completion of 20,000 Texas Master Naturalist hours

HNPAT (Houston Chapter – Native Prairies Association of Texas) will be presenting its 2019 Prairie Volunteer Award to Jim Duron, Texas Master Naturalists, Galveston Bay Area Chapter with over 20,000 volunteer hours, on Wednesday,

Prairie Friday volunteers ABNC, 2007

December 4, 2019 at the Prairie Stampede potluck (free, all welcome, please register). Please join us in celebrating this award and all 2019 coastal prairie accomplishments. Jim is a long-time prairie volunteer involved in multiple prairie restoration activities with multiple organizations:

  • Jim’s volunteerism started in 2007 with the Prairie Friday group at Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) where from 2014 – present, he has led all aspects related to plant generation.
  • He was involved in restoration at Sheldon Lake State Park on Tuesday mornings, 2007 – 2010.
  • Harvesting Switchgrass Seeds from TCPP’s Seed Production Facility 1, 2013

    Jim led the Tuesday morning volunteer workdays at Texas City Prairie Preserve 2010 – July, 2019 and produced the plants that were planted in the prairie during this period.  After stepping down as the leader, he continues to work as a restoration volunteer at TCPP.

  • Jim has been involved with prairie restoration at San Jacinto Battleground since 2012. From 2014 – present he leads the plant production effort there as well as Thursday morning workdays.
  • In summary, from 2007 – present, Jim has volunteered for prairie workdays Tuesday and Friday mornings. Since 2012 he has been volunteering for prairie workdays Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings and has been in leadership roles most of the time.
  • In addition to the workdays, Jim has been involved in other aspects of plant generation. In Jim’s words “The generation of the plants that support the restoration effort is a very time consuming task.  The effort begins with the collecting, cleaning and storage of the seeds. Then the seeds are germinated in several greenhouses around the supported areas.  During [my] tenure as the plant propagation lead, [I] use greenhouses at the NASA Long Horn Project, at the College of the Mainland , at the Armand Bayou Nature Center and at the San Jacinto Battle Ground.  Since 2014, [I have] generated over 170,000 seedlings in support of the restoration activities at the different sites.  The seedlings are taken from the greenhouses to the restoration sites where they are placed in 1 gallon containers by the volunteer groups. They are then staged until they are ready to plant in the prairie.  [I organize] the potting, staging and watering effort to get the plants ready. For each planting event, [I identify] the individual plant types that will be taken into the field and planted.

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Jim chronicles his volunteer career in prairie restoration:

Jim began his restoration experience in April 2007.  Getting ready to retire from the rat race, he was looking for something to do with his time.  After a hint from his wife, he joined the Prairie Friday group at the Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC).  This group meets every Friday morning and is responsible for the generation of prairie grasses and forbs that will be planted  in the prairie. In 2014, the Prairie Friday lead stepped down and Jim took over all the aspects related to plant generation. This is a task that Jim continues to perform to this day.

In November of 2007, one of the rangers at Sheldon Lake State Park (SLSP) contacted Prairie Friday volunteers about starting a prairie restoration group at the SLSP.  With the ABNC restoration lead, the new restoration group started generating plants. Jim continued to support the restoration effort at SLSP, until October of 2010.  

In October of 2010, Jim was approached by the lead of the restoration efforts at the Texas City Prairie Preserve (TCPP).  She needed to step down from the leadership role. Accepting the invitation, Jim took over the restoration lead at the TCPP.  Meeting every Tuesday morning, Jim led the effort to generate the grasses and forbs that were planted in the prairie. This is a position that he held until July of 2019 when he stepped down as the lead.  Jim continues to work as a restoration volunteer at the center.

In April of 2012, Prairie Friday volunteers were again approached by a ranger from one of the other state parks about starting a restoration effort. With a very small group of volunteers, the restoration activities at the San Jacinto Battle Ground (SJBG) began.  Meeting every Thursday morning, the group began the process of generating grasses and forbs that were planted in the prairie. In 2014, Jim took over the plant generation portion of the restoration effort. This is a position that he holds to this day

The generation of the plants that supports the restoration effort is a very time consuming task.  The effort begins with the collecting, cleaning and storage of the seeds. Then the seeds are germinated in several greenhouses around the supported areas.  During Jim’s tenure as the plant propagation lead, he uses greenhouses at the NASA Long Horn Project, at the College of the Mainland , at the Armand Bayou Nature Center and at the San Jacinto Battle Ground.  Since 2014, Jim has generated over 170,000 seedlings in support of the restoration activities at the different sites. The seedlings are taken from the greenhouses to the restoration sites where they are placed in 1 gallon containers by the volunteer groups. They are then staged until they are ready to plant in the prairie.  Jim organizes the potting, staging and watering effort to get the plants ready. For each planting event, he defines the individual plant types that will be taken into the field and planted.

In 2008 Jim became a member of the Galveston Bay Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists.  He served as the membership lead for 9 years before stepping down at the end of 2018. He still supports many of the chapter activities especially in the area of prairie restoration.  During his service with the chapter he has accumulated over 20,000 volunteer service hours.

Julie d’Ablaing – Prairie Volunteer Award

Congratulations to Julie d’Ablaing, the first recipient of HNPAT’s 2018 Prairie Volunteer Award! Please join us in celebrating Julie’s achievement at the 2018 Prairie Stampede, Wednesday, 11/28/18, at Houston Zoo Brown Education Building (Gate 8, not main gate). Doors open at 6:00 pm.

HNPAT (Houston Chapter of Native Prairies Association of Texas) board voted to present it’s first Greater Houston Prairie Volunteer Award to Julie d’Ablaing for her dedication to conserving, restoring, and learning about and teaching about our local prairies that span various conservation organizations.
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HNPAT knows Julie as a volunteer to Deer Park prairie who has collected seeds, sought prairie remnants, and participated in prairie maintenance workday and prairie surveys. She is always eager to learn about our  prairie plants. Many HNPAT members  remember Julie‘s presentation at an HNPAT meeting on how she was able to convince her neighbors in allowing her to install a pocket prairie in their easement and how she organized a boy scout troop to do that. Her wonderful presentation showed the progress of the pocket prairie year by year.
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The Houston Audubon Society and HAS volunteers know Julie as a tireless volunteer for their Natives Nursery, as someone who stepped up during Flo Hannah’s illness and helped as a volunteer run the nursery.  Houston Audubon’s Natives Nursery grows ‘Real Deal‘ native prairie plants for gardens and prairie restorations over the Greater Houston area.  Many organizations use these prairie plants to restore and conserve our local prairies.
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The Katy Prairie Conservancy knows Julie as a leading volunteer for its field nursery, seed collecting efforts, plant rescues, and other KPC activities involved in conserving and restoring our prairies. Julie is an invaluable advisor and active volunteer who helped maintain, provide plants, and organize invasive removals at the pocket prairies of Westside High School and Frostwood Elementary, two of KPC’s Prairie Builder Schools.
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To Texas Master Naturalist, Gulf Coast Chapter’s Plant Propation Program (PPP), Julie was a valuable volunteer whose organization ability while the PPP program was at Hermann Park was much appreciated.
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Julie‘s volunteerism, very diverse prairie activities, and tremendous impact on conservation, restoration, and education of our local prairies has earned her HNPAT’s first annual Greater Houston Prairie Volunteer Award.
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Please join us in celebrating Julie’s award at the Prairie Stampede.