Volunteer Newsletter - Armand Bayou Nature Center Volunteers

Armand Bayou
Nature Center
Prairie Friday
(Good Friday)
Stewardship Saturday
Pond Life class
Sundays In Nature
Volunteer Board meet
Volunteer meeting
10 Prairie Friday
11 Second Sat. Bird Count
Rookery Tour
Gator Nite
16 Bayou Foliage deadline
17 Prairie Friday
18 Stewardship Saturday
19 Sundays in Nature
(Earth Day is 22nd)
24 Prairie Friday
24-26 Order of the Arrow
Volume 34, Issue 4
Bayou Foliage
April Meeting Speaker
Diane Humes
Talking Trash
Humans are trash-making animals, producing waste
from prehistoric times to the Space Age. The story of
our trash is complex, often with as many questions as
answers (and people).
Please attend the ABNC volunteer meeting, April 9, and
join Diane Humes in her presentation, “Talking
Trash.” Diane is a Master Naturalist, long-time resident
of Clear Lake Forest, and ABNC volunteer. Originally
from Michigan, she first heard of the Garbology project
- the first study of "fresh" trash - while living in Tucson,
AZ, and continues to learn about trash and recycling what to do with all our stuff. Hope to see all past,
present, and future "dumpster divers"!
April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go. - Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe
After spending years working 50 to 60 hours a week every spring, I will never take it for
granted again. When one does taxes for a living, you start the tax season in the cold months
of winter and end in the middle of April. By then, the trees already have their leaves, the
Irises are done with their beautiful displays of color, the delicate white flowers of
dewberries and trifoliate oranges are long gone. But this year, this year they are all coming
alive for me as if for the first time in a very long while.
Over the last few months, there have been some wonderful training classes made available for our
volunteers, I hope you have had a chance to participate, learn and hopefully made some new friends. We
still have two more classes coming up, April 4th is “Pond Life” and May 2nd is “Turtles of ABNC.” These
classes are open to all and we encourage all to attend. The class in March on “Outdoor Safety” was such a
success that I have asked Margaret Frick if she would be willing to give it again in the fall. I truly feel that
every volunteer, because we are all outside, needs to take this class. We can all use a refresher class now
and then, and safety is so important for ourselves and for the public.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to take the new “Preserve Watch-Rookery Tour” with Mark Kramer.
My husband and I are still talking about our experience. There are more of these tours as well as the “Gator
Basking Days/Night” and the “Bayou Backwaters” coming up. I do love the fact that ABNC is coming up with
new ways to get people connected to nature. Please note that if you do take these tours, you can log your
hours as continued education. That is true for all the training you attend.
I have been inspired by nature and inspired by others, whose love of nature is contagious. So, as Mr.
Morley so elegantly stated, I am ready to “Go.” To “Go” outside and inspire, and to help connect people to
our treasured oasis, Armand Bayou Nature Center.
As always, thank you so much for all you hard work and dedication,
Liz Van Orstrand
Armand Bayou
Nature Center
Volunteer Board
Staff Roster
Liz Van Orstrand
281-480-8296 [email protected]
Joe Bryan
409-933-4087 [email protected]
Tom Scarsella
832-221-3752 [email protected]
Eleanor Stanley
713-455-1502 no e-mail
Gaye Batiz
713-518-5759 [email protected]
Weekend Demos
Polly Swerdlin
281-814-4606 [email protected]
Weekend Trails
Karen Sutera
281-474-5087 [email protected]
Polly Swerdlin
281-814-4606 [email protected]
Weekday Edu.
Madeleine Barnes
281-474-9406 [email protected]
Susan Millsap
281-538-6695 [email protected]
James Frantz
281-470-0946 [email protected]
Edward Craven
917-921-8290 [email protected]
Bayou Foliage Editor
Polly Swerdlin
281-814-4606 [email protected]
Shawn Gano
832-314-1608 [email protected]
Tom Kartrude
Barbara Baxter
Susan Millsap
Mike Maglitto
Ext 11
Ext 18
Ext 10
Ext 10
Janice Schrager
Kathy Gardner
Heather Millar
Ext 12
Ext 13
Ext 14
Mark Kramer
Dave Kovach
Jessica Collier
Zach Roper
Ext 15
Ext 16
Ext 17
Ext 20
Emails are [email protected] i.e.: [email protected] ; except Susan: [email protected] for the front desk
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
MARCH 12, 2015
The Volunteer Meeting was called to order at 6:58 PM by Liz Van Orstrand, Volunteer Chair
Joe Bryan “introduced” our speaker, Gaye Batiz, who gave a program on her 78-day Grand
Pacific and Far East Voyage cruise aboard the ms Amsterdam.
The Volunteer meeting began at 8:11 PM.
Liz said the 2015 Volunteer Wish List had been approved by the Volunteer Board and put it
to a general vote. The request to spend the money passed. All items are to be purchased
before the Summer adjournment.
The volunteers were informed that Lucy the Rat Snake had recently passed away.
The Day Camps scheduled for March 17th, 18th and 19th require volunteer assistance.
Coordinate with either Madeleine or Heather.
Earth Day will be celebrated on April 19 which is a Free Sunday in Nature Day.
Trash Bash is scheduled for March 28. All the canoe slots are booked, but help is still
needed at the park.
The schedule for the Adult Outdoor Education activities was discussed. The schedule
should be included in Bayou Foliage.
The meeting adjourned at 8:33 PM.
Tom Scarsella
Treasurer’s Report February 2015
Beginning Balance
The social portions of our meetings are enhanced with finger food,
snacks and beverages; please sign up for one month, either one:
Sharon Tummins Chuck Gerteis
(pot lunch picnic)
Eleanor Stanley
(pot lunch dinner)
Total Expenditures
Total Income
Current Balance
April 2015
Meeting Snacks & Drinks
Bayou Foliage
Signup is on a clipboard in the Volunteer Office
Presenting our Spring Program for training.
Signup sheets are in the Volunteer Office located in the Admissions Building.
For pre-registration classes (*) call 281-454-2551 x 10.
Has anyone seen
the Cherry Pitter
that used to be
hanging onto
the farmhouse
kitchen counter
near the sink?
Saturday, April 4th “Pond Dip-netting” (rain date April 11th) 10:00-12:00
Leader: Margaret Frick – [email protected] Location: Classroom2/Lab and pond platform.
The ponds of ABNC look serene, but hidden in their plants and algae are secret worlds filled with
amazing animals and incessant life and death struggles (albeit on the small scale). In this class,
the instructor hopes to demonstrate that dip netting is just about the most fun you can have
outdoors with a group of people: there are nets, water, mud, strange critters, fierce predators,
and the excitement of discovery with every dip of the net. You’ll learn how to dip net in a pond,
identify your catches, and explain the ecological significance of the animals you catch. This is a
hands-on, outdoor class, so dress accordingly.
May 5th – Turtles
Time: 10am – noon
Location: Classroom 2/Lab
Leader: Margaret Frick – [email protected]
Turtles are as old as the dinosaurs and even tougher. The Nature Center is privileged to be a
home for many different species of these incredible creatures. In this class, we’ll cover the
biology of turtles, the species that live at ABNC, and how to make learning about these ancient
reptiles fun for both for children and adults.
First and Third Sundays In Nature
Zach Martin in Education is the POC for the projects
(Sponsored by Dow Chemical of Deer Park)
Are you on
If so, join other
current and past
volunteers and
staff to share
comments and
news about
happenings at
April 2015
April – Earth Day
May – Birds
June – Turtles
July – Snakes
August – Insects
September – Outdoor Safety
October – Bats
November – Spiders
December – Mammals
Bayou Foliage
Education Department Page
Leaders and Helpers needed for these events
Contact Heather 281 474 2551 ext 14
Call or email Susan
Millsap to volunteer:
Keep Pearland Beautiful
and Pearland Parks and
Saturday April 18
10am – 2pm
Pearland Recreation
Center 4141 Bailey Rd
Possibly over 300
attendees including local
Preserve Watch for Kids
Birds for kids
Same time as adult’s version. Children will view a bird demonstration, use
binoculars on a birding hike, create a bird craft, and participate in birdoriented activities.
April 11, 2015 9am – 12 noon
May 9, 2015 9am – 12 noon
$15/child ages 6 -10 year old Advance Registration Required:
To register, please call 281 474 2551, ext 10
Along the Bayou for kids
Same time as adult’s version. Children visit live bayou reptiles, canoe on
May’s Pond, pond dipping activities, trail hikes and games.
May 30, 2015 8am – 3pm
$50/child ages 6-10 years old, Advance Registration required
To register, please call 281 474 2551, ext 10
April School Field Trips
Hands On History
Hands On History 3rd grade
Hands On History 5th grade
Adaptations pre-K and K
Hands On History special needs
Hands On History K – 5th grade
Pond Life 3rd grade
How Nature Recycles pre-K and K
Adaptations 3rd grade
There will be scouts on our site April 24 through 26 for Order Of The Arrow. They will be working several
projects for us, like refurbishing the nursery ponds and some drainage issues, probably about 80 folks,
and they’ll be staying overnight Friday and Saturday. However, they cannot talk the whole weekend, so
please don’t expect them to respond to you verbally.
Khaki Shirts for sale:
I picked up a couple from the Goodwill store and took them in for the embroidery. One long
sleeve, one short sleeve, both small - can be purchased for $12. The front desk will pay me back.
They are in the Volunteer Office with a tag on them.
I will keep an eye open for more opportunities (Salvation Army, thrift stores, etc.) But any time
you buy your own shirt – you may drop it off at the front desk and I will be glad to take it in for the
logo to be added. Just be sure to attach your name, phone, and $8.
Or you can take it yourself to Third Coast Graphics (301 W Edgewood Dr., Friendswood). It takes
about a week.
Polly Swerdlin
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
What are the top 4 rules about outdoor safety?
#1. “Look where you put your hands and feet.” If you can’t see where your fingers are…
#2. “Drink plenty of water.” Avoid dehydration especially in the summer.
#3. “Leave it alone and it will leave you alone.” A general rule is that, unless it eats off people,
almost nothing will bite or sting you if you don’t scare it or mess with it. This includes snakes,
wasps, ants, etc.
#4. “Dress properly.” Covered shoes and socks can help protect against snakes, poison ivy, ants,
bees, wasps, and thorns. In hot weather, dress in light colors and clothes and wear a hat. In cool
weather, wear layers. When there are mosquitoes, wear lightweight pants and use bug
Just a few items covered by Margaret Frick in our March 7 class
Beautiful Bird Songs From Around the World – British Library
(a CD with audio recordings – thank you Karen)
It’s Easy Being Green – Crissy Trask
(last one from the Gift Shop – thank you Barbara)
Saturday March 21st, a group of 8 new volunteers turned up for Interpretive Trail Guide Training.
Unfortunately, the weather was very wet and a choice was given of indoors or outdoors for the trail hike.
These brave folks made the choice to venture out for a walk in the rain - well done all of you.
From left to right: Darleen Latimer, Jay Cross, Edith Erfling, Jean Booth, Greg Nenninger, Liz VanOrstrand
(Trainer), Karen Sutera (Trainer), Cody Raeth, Laura Vincent and Darien Teague. Photo by Gaye Batiz.
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
The following write-up was found while sorting through historical documents saved by past staff and volunteers. As
with March’s issue, there are typos from the original piece. Also, there were about 5 pages, but a good part of it is
covered in the Volunteer Manual.
"The water in the Bayou was fresh and clear. It had big lily pads on it and they had big, beautiful yellow
or white flowers ... and you could look down into the water and see their roots going down, the water was
so clear.
The banks were lined with fishing cane, and that's where we'd cut our fishing poles from. We'd use
worms or wood-sawyers for bait, and we'd catch goggle-eye perch, and bass, and gaspargou and catfish ...
And up on the bands you'd see alligators lying there, sunning. They didn't bother us, so we didn't bother
This was Middle Bayou in the 1920's, as remembered by Juanita Ballentine who was born on Middle
Bayou in 1917.
And this was Middle Bayou as seen by the first Anglo settlers in the late 1800's. The Henry family was
the first to settle in this area, arriving from Bayou la Fourche in Louisiana. They settled land on the East
bank of the Bayou, where Bay Area Boulevard now crosses. The land that they cleared and farmed is the
site of today’s Bay Area Park.
The Henrys were joined by other families ... the Gossmans to the North, and the Dobsons and the
Ballentines to the South. This small community was known as the French Settlement, and is the area of
focus for this brief history of Middle Bayou.
This history begins in 1832. Texas was part of Mexico. The Mexican government allowed an Anglo
Empressario, Stephen F. Austin, to offer free grants of land to immigrants into Texas. Austin’s initial land
grant attracted 300 newcomers. Among these Old Three Hundred, were three brothers from New York ...
The Harris brothers ... William, John and David. Each was granted one League or 4438 acres of land.
On John's league, he founded the City of Harrisburg which was later to be prominent in Texas War for
Independence, and now part of the City of Houston.
The William Harris League was located on Galveston Bay and extended from Red Bluff on the south, to
just below La Porte on the North.
David Harris' League was bounded on the west by Middle Bayou and on the East by brother William's
League. It is on a small portion of the David Harris League that we focus ... that portion of Middle Bayou
that included the French Settlement ... the land ... and its people.
Those people were to include a young British immigrant and his American bride ... the Martyns. James
Martyn left his native Cornwall in the late 1860's, bound for a new life in America. Working his way from
Canada thru New York and into Texas, He considered going on to the California gold fields.
While in Galveston, he had a change of plans. There, in 1874, he met Elizabeth Margaret Williams who
was visiting from her home in Pensacola, Florida. They became engaged, and in 1875, were married in
Pensacola. Returning by ship to Galveston, they barely made port ahead of the destructive hurricane of
Settling in Harrisburg, James found employment as a drawbridge tender, and the Martyns began their
family. Their firstborn, Minnie, arrived in September of 1876. James Malachi was born October 4, 1878,
and was named for his father and grandfather.
While in Harrisburg, James renewed acquaintance with Thomas Dobson, whom he had known in
England. Dobson owned land southeast of Harrisburg on a small stream called Middle Bayou. He told
James of a good buy on a tract of land that was adjacent to the Dobson place. The widow, Marie de Naive,
had for sale 83 acres which fronted in the Bayou and contained not only good rich sandy land for farming,
but also prairie land on which cattle could thrive. All this for a price of $300.
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
When the bridge job ended in July of 1879, James purchased the 83 acres and the Martyns moved to
Middle Bayou. The small, dirt-floored house that James and his neighbors built was located on the fringe
of the woods, with a view of the open prairie. James set about clearing the land down by the Bayou ...
rich sandy loam that was to produce crops of sugar cane, watermelons, corn, potatoes, pears and garlic.
Juanita Ballentine remembers the garlic ...
"Me and one of the Dobson girls decided that we didn't want to go to school one day, so we started
figuring out how we could get out of it. We were very young. We decided that we'd go down to the field
and eat a bunch of garlic and we'd smell so bad that they wouldn't want us in school." It didn't work ...
they went to school.
James maintained a pear orchard down in the clearing near the bayou. Some of these pear trees have
survived the years and in 1980 were pruned and trimmed. In 1981 they produced pears which were
promptly harvested by our local raccoons.
In the process of clearing the underbrush from the orchard, a patch of garlic was found, still thriving,
after more than 40 years of neglect. The sugarcane patch provides an interesting sidelight in Middle
Bayou history. Each family in the area had their own sugarcane patch. In the winter, right after the first
frost; the cane would be cut and taken to the Ballentine syrup mill. Here the cane would be crushed in
the horse-drawn mill and its sweet juice was collected.
Born in 1891, Alton (Jack) Ballentine remembers the operation ...
"The mill resembled an old-time washing machine wringer. We'd feed the stalks of cane in between the
rollers and they'd just squeeze the juice out of the cane. When you squeezed the cane; that juice would
just squirt out everywhere and get all over you. At the end of the day you could take off your overalls and
they'd stand up by themselves. We called the juice 'wormjuice' because there'd always be some worms
left on the cane when you squeeze it ... but it was sweet ... and the kids always enjoyed dipping in a cup
and drinking the juice."
The juice was then cooked into syrup in large evaporator pans. Constant stirring was necessary to
prevent the juice from sticking. Careful cooking and skimming was also required. Undercooked syrup
would ferment and explode when it was canned. Overcooked syrup soon turned into solid sugar crystals
... rock candy. While cooking, the froth was skimmed from the syrup ... an eyewitness remembers ...
"We'd take the skimmings and put them into a barrel to ferment. After that, we'd distill it. It made some
of the best rum you ever tasted ... for medicinal purposes."
Some of the families produced enough syrup to ship to Galveston for sale at $.50 per gallon can. The
Martyns produced only enough for their own use.
This picture is from Lew Hornung’s historical collection, but no names. Most likely
neighbors of Jack Ballentine coming to get their cane processed.
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
ABNC Volunteer Duty Roster – April Weekends
If you have to cancel, please do your best to find your own replacement. If you
cannot, please notify your coordinator AND the Front Desk. If you can cover
for any open slots, please call the coordinator for that event. When you arrive
at ABNC for your duty, please check in at the Front Desk.
10:00 Trails
2:00 Trails
History Demos
Karen Sutera Karen Sutera Polly Swerdlin Polly Swerdlin
281-474-5087 281-474-5087 281-814-4606 281-814-4606
Polly Swerdlin Edward Craven Polly Swerdlin
Julia Knutson
Study Skins
Farm House
Farm Life
Polly Swerdlin Polly Swerdlin
281-814-4606 281-814-4606
Jane Bingel
Susan Hesley
Yarn Dolls
Sundays in
Leda Parker
Laura Vincent
Ken Russell
Leda Parker
Julia Knutson
Polly Swerdlin
Julia Knutson
Jane Bingel
Ray Parker
Rope Making
Karen Sutera
Julia Knutson
Jill Macomber
Nancy Saint
Yarn Dolls
Margaret Frick
Jane Bingel
Julia Knutson
Joe Bryan
Laura Vincent
Julia Knutson
Julia Knutson
Jane Bingel
Polly Swerdlin
Sundays in
Eleanor Stanley
Polly Swerdlin
Karen Sutera Polly Swerdlin
Zel Arbuckle
Julia Knutson
Eleanor Stanley
Bayou Foliage deadline: 3rd Thursday of each month.
April 2015
Bayou Foliage
P.O. Box 58828
8500 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77258
Phone: 281-474-2551
Web: www.abnc.org
We’re on the Web!
In Memory of Lucy
1993 – 2015
The white rat snake that had been on exhibit in the ABNC Admission Building died on Sunday, March 1,
2015. Her coloring was produced by an unusual pigmentation known as leucism. This abnormal condition
prevents the classic coloration of most Texas rat snakes. Lucy, the leucistic rat snake, was donated by the
Houston Zoo in 1993. For over 21 years she served as a primary exhibit animal and a gentle ambassador
who helped many to overcome their fear of snakes. She will be missed by all of us who knew her.
April 2015
Bayou Foliage