Annual awards for 2021 announced

Every year the Native Plant Society of Texas recognizes organizations and individuals that advance our mission. Their work will be honored during our 2021 symposium Celebrating Conservation and Community. Tune in on Saturday, October 9 to our YouTube Live channel from 7 to 9 pm to watch our  Awards and Contest Presentation broadcast live. We will tell the stories of extraordinary people from all over Texas who have done amazing things that in some way, shape, or form champion our mission.

The presentation will feature awards from these categories; Benny J. Simpson Fellows, State Board, Memorial and President’s. The evening is a fun and exciting event! It includes announcing our photo, newsletter and video contest winners. The finale will be the recognition of the Chapter of the Year!

The Fellows Award is presented to individuals whose work enriches the Society at the state, regional or chapter level. Chosen by the membership from a list of members with ten years of continuous service.  This year’s Fellows are Josephine Keeney, Kathy Ward, Veronica Hawk and Randy Pensabene. Josephine is a member of the North Central Chapter and is the leader on five demonstration gardens in Tarrant County. Kathy Ward and Veronica Hawk are members of the Boerne Chapter who are active in youth education, the Pollinator Garden Assistance and Recognition Program and other chapter activities. Randy Pensabene has led the dynamic Williamson County Chapter as president for the last several years.

State Board has conferred two Awards of Appreciations for work that supports, enhances, and furthers our mission within the Society. Dr. Becca Dickstein has, since 2006, written NICE Plant of the Season information sheets that are used by several chapters in North Texas. The level four class Stewardship of Native Plant Communities  was developed by Meg Inglis, Suzanne Tuttle and Deedy Wright.

The Native Star Award is given to an organization or agency for a specific act of conservation or public service. Jamie Ford and Carnegie Vanguard High School Sky Prairie Students were chosen for the transformation of the CVHS campus’s green roof into a coastal prairie and pollinator garden. This work was through the Scientific Research and Design course. The students come into the course with no background in conservation or knowledge of native flora and fauna and leave with lifelong skills and new vision on what makes native plants so amazing and valuable. This transformation of the green roof has been in progress for the last five years and each year it gets better and better, thanks to the passion and dedication of the teens in charge.

The Digital Media Award recognizes outstanding digital publications featuring Texas native plants. The winner is the blog by Linda Leinen called Lagniappe | Images and Incidentals. The majority of the images are of Texas native plants. Since 2008 her words and exquisite photographs have been perfectly crafted. They are a soothing substitute if you are in need of a nature walk.

Our memorial awards help us to stay connected to the people from the past who were important in the study of Texas native plants and those who founded and developed our Society. Through these awards we honor those who are continuing the efforts today. Winners of the memorial awards are chosen by the Awards Committee, consisting of Linda Knowles, chair; Cecil Carter; Kim Conrow; Michael Eason; Bill Hopkins; Meg Inglis; and Ricky Linex.

The Mary Jo Laughlin and Dr. Eula White Memorial Award is awarded for visual art that illustrates, interprets, or promotes Texas native plants. Jill Bedgood was selected for public art sculptures at the Fort Worth Chisholm Trail Community Park. The two large works, Flora and Fauna and Pond were commissioned by the City of Fort Worth’s Public Art Program. Jill was guided by ecological input from the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Pond references the importance of water to sustain life and as a gathering communal space. The work focuses attention on the pond in the northwest section of the park. Flora & Fauna is informed by the concept of duality and dependence of plant and animal life for existence in a prairie habitat.

The Shirley Lusk Memorial Award honors a community scientist for collecting and preserving Texas native plants for public education by providing outstanding contribution of herbarium vouchers. Patty Manning has been collecting herbarium specimens during her tenure at Sul Ross State University and continues to collect and document the flora of Texas now that she is retired from the university. She has added valuable data to our knowledge, including the collection and documentation of plants that were previously unknown in Texas.

The Carroll Abbott Memorial Award is for writings in the popular vein on Texas native plants.  Jim & Lynne Weber and Roland Wauer have been selected for their book Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies. This book focuses on native host plants that caterpillars need to survive.  These plants are the nurseries of the garden. Butterflies lay their eggs on them and they provide ready food to nourish the hungry caterpillars.  This user-friendly, heavily illustrated field guide describes 101 native larval host plants in Texas.  Each species account includes descriptive information on each plant, a distribution map, and photos of both the caterpillars and adult butterflies who frequent those plants.  Learning more about the plants caterpillars need is crucial for butterfly conservation.

The Donovan Stewart Correll Memorial Award is for scientific writing in the field of the native flora of Texas. John Williams has been selected for his book The Writings of Ferdinand Lindheimer: Texas Botanist, Texas Philosopher. John offers the first English translation of the “father of Texas botany’s Essays and Articles of Ferdinand Lindheimer in Texas.  It provides valuable insight into the natural and cultural history of Texas.  While Lindheimer was not the first botanist to collect plants for scientific examination in Texas, his collections are credited with helping botanists around the world to understand the nature, extent, and significance of the diversity of plants in the state.

The Nancy Benedict Memorial Award is for a specific of conservation or public service in the field of Texas native plants. Susan Prosperie’s is recognized for her propagation work at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. She propagated over 250,000 Pinus taeda for the restoration of the Bastrop County loblolly pine forest which was devastated by wildfires in 2011. She continues to propagate and grow milkweed (Asclepias spp.) to help the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service engage Texas growers in the use of local ecotypes.

The Lynn Lowrey Memorial Award is for horticultural achievement. Native plant growers are of the utmost importance in providing ecoregion-specific species to nurseries and the public. Mary Carol Edwards is honored for commercially growing wetland plants that are crucial to the flood-mitigation and water-quality projects that coastal areas need. Her business, Green Star Wetland Plant Farm is located just south of Houston. They take time to advise and educate on projects using wetland native plants for landscapes of all sizes; home, commercial and public. The Society encourages growers throughout Texas to focus on native plants that are at home in the ecoregion they service.

The Charles Leonard Weddle Memorial Award is for lifetime achievement in the field of Texas native plants. This year the committee co-awarded the honor to two people who have worked together since the early 1980’s. They were early proponents of ecological restoration utilizing native plants. One developed a school program that grew to 4,000 student visitors and 100 trained volunteers per year. The other developed a wide array of cutting edge equipment and techniques to advance ecological goals. Together they formed the Environmental Survey Consulting company. They have had a tremendous impact throughout Texas in a wide variety of restorations, landscape designs, speaking engagements, and consulting on strategic planning for natural areas, prescribed burning, invasive species management and reintroduction of native and endemic species through regional wild harvest and sowing native seeds. The Society is proud to announce the lifetime achievement awardees for 2021 – Judy Walther and David Mahler.

Society presidents have the privilege to award honors at their discretion. This year President Kim Conrow awarded two President’s Awards.

The first goes to Kyle Cowart for the Troop 757 Eagle Scout Project to remove nonnative and invasive species and restore Blackland Prairie native plants and habitat at River Legacy Park in Arlington. His work was found to be meritorious and inspirational. He is indeed a conservation leader of today and tomorrow.

The second  President Award goes to Carol Clark for her volunteer service as the chair of the Bring Back the Monarch to Texas Committee and her tireless educational efforts through presentations, social media and her naturalist blog Carol’s World. Carol is an influential conservation advocate who works with Monarch Watch and other conservation organizations. She is also a writer, photographer, and a sought after speaker throughout Texas.