Spring 2017 Newsletter
MMNA Newsletter
Editor: Susan Hamilton
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Hi All, Happy New Year to those of you I didn’t see at the February quarterly meeting!  We had an excellent presentation by Steve Bennett on snakes in South Carolina.  Steve gave us a lot of his time and I believe everyone there learned something new about snakes.  Besides our great speaker, we also talked about our accomplishments in 2016 including the hours we’ve reported via the Statewide MN application.  For those who weren’t able to attend, I will share those here:
In 2016 - 24 MMNA members reported 1,939 hours – WOW!
- Advanced Learning 705
- Citizen Science 147
- Ecological Services 207
- Education Interpretation 654
- Program Services 224
We’ve held 2 volunteer events in the first quarter so far:  a litter clean-up at Shealy’s Pond Heritage Preserve and a bird count for the Great Backyard Bird Count at the Timmerman Trail in Cayce.  Thanks to all those who came out to participate!  We hope to schedule more events later in the year.  If there is something you’d like to see us accomplish as a group, let me know and we’ll see if we can make it happen.
We have another good quarterly meeting coming in May where Colette Degarady with the Nature Conservancy will speak to us about native plants.  We may hold this meeting at Saluda Shoals Park so we can include an optional nature walk for those interested afterward.  Stand by for confirmation via email and please try to join us if you can.
As far as upcoming advanced training, be sure to check out the Heggie’s Rock trip on April 14.  I think this trip will be really special.  You can find the details and information on how to sign up here:
Wishing you all a fabulous Spring!

Congratulations to Nicole Riddle who recently qualified for her state-wide certification.
Clemson appreciates everyone who continues to report their volunteer hours at the master naturalist website. This effort helps assure the program receives funding.
Upcoming Trainings and Opportunities

Congaree National Park hosts "Lunch and Learn" on the first Wednesday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Bring a bag lunch on March 8 and listen to ranger Liz Struhar share information on the park's resource management program, with specific insights into its fire management program.
On April 5, Dr. Paul Brandley will discuss Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Cedar Creek. Dr. Bradley, with the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center, will share an update on a multi-year project to study contaminants of emerging concern--pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals at Congaree National Park.
On May 3, Jon Manchester will share his research into the history of maroon communities. The Congaree floodplain was a place of refuge for slaves seeking freedom from bondage.
More information on the park programs is at

The South Carolina Association of Naturalists (SCAN) schedules field trips for the fourth Saturday of each month. On March 25, the group will explore Dick Watkin's Fort Motte property in Calhoun County; on April 22, they will be heading to Table Rock State Park, and on the weekend of May 27, to Hell Hole Swamp in Francis Marion Forest. SCAN welcomes new members to join them in any activity. More information at
Birdwatching volunteers are needed to lead a session on birdwatching at a Girl Scout leader retreat Saturday, March 25 at Camp Kinard in Batesburg-Leesville. Please contact Sara Green at SCWF if you can help.
MMNA is planning a trip to Heggis Rock on Friday, April 14th. This is a granite outcropping similar to Forty Acre Rock, but unique in many ways. Carpooling is encouraged, and the group plans to leave Columbia at approximately 8:30am. If you would like to attend please contact Ed Siggleko at

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation is holding a two-day Pro Birder Training Module on Friday, April 28 through Saturday April 29  at Sassafras Mountain/the Southern Appalachian Foothills with state park ranger Tim Lee. For more information:

The Blue Wall Birding Festival is scheduled for Thursday, May 11 through Sunday, May 14 at Table Rock State Park. This four-day event includes a variety of walks to various nearby heritage preserves, state parks and other public lands. For more information, visit . Overnight accommodations are available at park cabins by calling the park directly.
 Sesquicentennial State Park is looking for volunteers that feel confident in varying subjects to accompany rangers on walks and to help with some light trail maintenance. If interested, contact Jim Holloway at

Ellen Blundy is looking for docents to volunteer for the Columbia Green Festival of Gardens May 5 and 6th. Docents will talk to visitors about the native plants in her yard.  Contact Ellen at for more information.

The SCWF is hosting a book signing and reception with author (and Pro Birder instructor) Drew Lanham on Wednesday, March 22, from 5-7 p.m. at the Mann-Simons House at 1403 Richland St. More information is available at

Volunteers are needed for both preparation and activities being held at the Blythewood Butterfly Festival at Camp Discovery in Blythewood on Saturday, May 20th from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. If interested, sign up at: or the visit the Camp Discovery website at
Volunteers are needed to help monitor Ospreys if the coming months. If you live near water and have an osprey nesting nearby, you can help track the bird's behavior, reporting to the Sea Island Fly Fishers and the Low Country Institute. The program is in its eighth year. Visit to create an account and investigate participating in the research. If you can submit observations, please email Kristen Mattson

Volunteers are needed to write articles about endangered species for the SCWF website as well as for publication in Carolina Living Magazine. If available, contact Sara Green
Nancy Thompson spreading the word about outdoor education
Naturalist Spotlight
          The WILD was calling Nancy Thompson, and, despite retirement, she hasn’t been able to say no.
            Nancy, a 2007 MMNA graduate, is a former high school environmental science and biology teacher. She retired in 2006, expecting to slow down and relax a little. However, in 2010, the state Department of Natural Resources discontinued its participation in Project WILD, a wildlife-based conservation program for educators. The loss of the program was something she couldn’t stomach, so she and husband Ray have entered into the business of coordinating training sessions for Project WILD, the Leopold Education Project and other outdoor-oriented programs.
            “We decided this was important,” says Nancy. “If we can get three-to seven-year-olds doing things and enjoying the outdoors, maybe we can get beyond this techno state that we are in, and get them to feel comfortable in the outdoors.”
            Both programs offer curriculum for students from “three years old to gray-haired.” They are directed at educators, park naturalists and others in teaching situations.
            The programs vary slightly in their focus: Leopold mirrors “The Sand County Almanac” in that it stresses studying the landscape before impacting it. Project  WILD has different programs emphasizing environmental understanding and stewardship. Nancy's goal is to provide at least one training monthly throughout the state. The Thompsons try to keep costs low, understanding that educators have limited funding, and can generally provide training and all curriculum materials for about $35 per person in training sessions. They have nearly 20 facilitators that help instruct educators in these programs.
            Being a Master Naturalist has played a big role in Nancy’s life after retirement. “I had always been interested in the environment, but after becoming a Master Naturalist, it just kind of interconnected everything,” she says. She is working hard to help others learn about those environmental relationships as well.
Place and Trails
Exploring Congaree
and Bates Ferry Trail
      By Dave Schuetrum
One of my favorite places in the Midlands is the eastern portion of Congaree National Park. I especially like it for it's wildness and lack of people.  The Bates Ferry Trail is a good place to start to get to know the eastern park area. This trail is actually the original road bed stretching back into the 1700s. It was built mainly by slave labor and connected McCord's Ferry in the north to the Congaree River at it's southern point. The southern point is where Bates Ferry crossed the river into what is now Calhoun County. There's more to this trail than meets the eye.
As you walk along the trail headed to the river, you will see a metal bridge, which is actually a modified railroad car fitted with wheels that crosses the canal (a.k.a. Bate's Old River). Just a short distance from the bridge is the General Greene Cypress. In that same slough are the huge stumps of once virgin timber. 
But continuing on along the original route after about a mile, the old road bed trail will terminate at the Congaree River. If you look closely...some of the pilings still exist from the old days.
Now that your curiosity is up, here's how to get to the Bates Ferry Trail. From Columbia take Bluff Rd, (Hwy 48), eastward until it Tee's into Hwy 601. Turn south on Hwy 601 and drive about two miles and you will see the Bates Ferry trail head sign on the right to the parking area. And away you go! Keep your head to the sky to see Bald Eagles, Osprey, and in the summer, both species of Kites float overhead.
Renew Your MMNA Membership
It's that time of year! If you missed the last quarterly meeting and need to renew your membership, visit for a form to download and mail in. (Instructions are on the website.) Current members may register for MMNA events before guests and non-members.

If you want to participate in a field trip, you must also fill out a the 2017 waiver.  You can bring the waiver to the next MMNA meeting, mail it along with your 2017 dues, or bring it on your next field trip.See this link for more details:
Book Review
Exploring Wild Ones, by Jon Mooallem
Review by Liesel Hamilton
     After waiting for about twenty-minutes in the parking lot of the Dulles airport, I got a text from author Jon Mooallem. After some unpleasant turbulence, he had landed, retrieved his bag, and was waiting for a ride to George Mason University. He was here to give a lecture as his book, Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, which had been selected as the school's book of the year that all freshmen are required to read.
      Before Mooallem landed, I skimmed through the last pages of his book. I hoped I would be able to ask Moollem insightful questions about the book, spark an interesting conversation, yet, this did not happen.
     As it turns out, Mooallem and I ended up discussing my impressions of Fairfax, Virginia. It seemed, even though he was the one who had written a fascinating book, he would rather have conversation with me than discuss it. I should have expected this as Wild Ones is filled with not only interesting information about animals, but as the title suggests, it is mostly about how people interact with animals. Mooallem, a journalist by trade, is wonderfully adept at characterizing, relating to, and understanding people—a trait that he showed in my car as we drove away from the Dulles airport.
Wild Ones is divided up into three distinct sections:  bears, butterflies, and birds. In each of these sections, Mooallem analyzes why humans are so fascinated with these different creatures, all of which are endangered. He asks us to consider why the polar bear has become the symbol for climate change and why we plaster butterflies and birds on scarves and binders and lamps. He asks us to consider why we classify animals the way we do—why do we have an affinity for protecting the cute, cuddly, or beautiful animals, rather than all of the animals that need our help.
      Mooallem’s book is overflowing with research and interesting facts, laid out in rich prose that keeps you turning the page. Wild Ones is fascinating foray into nature and humanity and how the two are intertwined. Along the way, you will learn about history, ecology, oceanography, geography, and a slew of other subjects. Ultimately, the book lets you view nature from an angle that perhaps, you are not accustomed to.
Are you utilizing all your resources? While continuing to be a work in progress, the MMNA website has information about upcoming trainings, field trips and other resources you may find useful. Check it out: 
What Am I?
Leucothoe axillaris, commonly known as swamp dog-laurel or dog-hobble, grows in floodplains and swampy areas. Here the native shrub is showing its spring blossoms. (Photo courtesy of Bobbi Adams)
Upcoming Dates

The next MMNA Steering Committee meeting, open to all members, will be held March 18 from 3-5 p.m. at the SCWF headquarters on Pickens Street.
The next Quarterly Meeting will be Saturday, May 10. Guest speaker Colette DeGarady will talk about native plants and pollinators.
To keep abreast of all MMNA happenings, log into the website at
Copyright © Midlands Master Naturalists Association*, All rights reserved.
*Fall, 2016*

Our mailing address is:
116 Southlake Road
Columbia, SC 29221

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Midlands Master Naturalist Association · 116 Southlake Road · Columbia, SC 29229 · USA

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