BRNN EVENT MINUTES
Location and Date: Annual Meeting and BRNN Naturalist of the Year Award Presentation, Zabriskie Parish Hall, The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville
November 16, 2017 6:00 to 8:00 pm
Program Leaders: Ken Czarnomski and Barbara Harrison
Attendance: This BRNN event was both the annual meeting to elect BRNN officers and an event to honor Scott Dean, who was selected as Blue Ridge Naturalist of the Year by the BRNN members. The event was a potluck dinner that was well attended with over 60 people in attendance, and well over half of them were BRNN members. BRNN Board members attending: Ken Czarnomski, Barbara Harrison, Charlotte Caplan, Penelope Reed, and Linda Martinson.
Event Notes: After a delicious potluck dinner, Ken Czarnomski, BRNN vice-president, wel- comed everyone and called the meeting to order explaining that first Scott Dean would be honored as the 2017 recipient of the Blue Ridge Naturalist for 2016 and then the BRNN annual meeting would be convened to summarize the organization’s events of the year and to elect officers for 2018.
Presentation of BRNN Naturalist of the Year award for 2017
Ken explained that BRNN is an independent not-for-profit naturalist organization founded in 2013 in Asheville with a mission to connect people who a passionate interest in the natural world. Most members of the BRNN are previous or present instructors, are current attendees or are graduates of the Blue Ridge Naturalist program. He reported that currently, the BRNN represents over 70 members with over 700 followers and like-minded organizations on social meeting and hosts several events and presentations every year. He then introduced Linda Martinson, BRNN secretary, who described the BRNN Naturalist of the Year award as recognizing contributors who have dedicated themselves to the Southern Appalachian naturalist community in ex- ceptional ways. In November 2015, BRNN presented the first Naturalist of the Year award to Jessie Wilder, who founded the Blue Ridge Naturalist certification program. In November 2016, the BRNN presented the 2016 award to both George and Elizabeth Ellison for their artistic orig- inality and decades of contributions to education, mentorships, and publications in support of the regional natural history and mountain environment of the Blue Ridge area.
This year, the BRNN Naturalist of the Year was awarded to Scott Dean in recognition of his deep commitment and numerous and significant contributions to the spectacular biodiversity of the Southern Appalachians. Linda noted that Scott really didn’t need any introduction to most of us in the room since he had taught wildflower classes to most of us and also introduced us to the treasures of the Blue Ridge through his organization, Western North Carolina, Naturally. Linda read two letters from Frances Figart, Interpretive Products and Services Director of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and Jessie Wilder. These two letters are attached. Frances’s final words are of particular note because they describe Scott so well: “Scott will tell you things you’ve
never known before in a homespun yet erudite way that can’t be duplicated anywhere. Like a pink or yellow lady slipper orchid, Scott is a rare jewel of these mountains who should be trea- sured and enjoyed.” With this award, members of the BRNN are demonstrating that we certain- ly do treasure and enjoy Scott!
BRNN Annual Meeting
Ken then introduced BRNN officer Barbara Harrison, Program Director and Treasurer, who described and summarized the BRNN events and presentations for 2017 as well as those we have planned for 2018. Charlotte Caplan, Membership Coordinator, who gave a short membership report and described BRNN contributions to Citizen Science projects. Finally, Penelope Reed, Social Networking/Outreach Director, gave an introduction to the BRNN website that was de- veloped this year and requested contributions of all kinds to the website. Ken then described BRNN Board activities anticipated for 2018 including review and approval of revised and updat- ed by-laws and establishing status as a 501(c)(3) organization. The Board has gained a lot of in- formation and experience since BRNN was established in 2013 and many of the proposed changes to the by-laws are intended to provide more efficient procedures and coordinated checks and balances. One by-law change of note is that the Treasurer, President and Vice-President shall all be signatories to the BRNN account with online access to bank statements so that the signa- ture of any one of them shall be acceptable to banks.
Ken then announced that during this fourth annual BRNN meeting there was one agenda item: electing next year’s slate of officers. He proposed to the BRNN members that the following slate of 2018 Board officers be elected: Ken Czarnomski as President; Barbara Harrison as Vice-pres- ident; Linda Martinson as Secretary; Charlotte Caplan as Treasurer; Penelope Reed as Public Relations Director; Peggy Clark as Program Director; Tom Southard as Outreach Director; and Rosalie Estes as Membership Coordinator. They were all previously elected unanimously in an online election. He announced that various board committees would be formed as required and that board meetings were open to attendance and encouraged everyone to express any interest they have in being on the board, on the board committees or attending board meetings.
Finally, Ken thanked several people for their help with BRNN this year: Tina Masciarelli, a strategist for Sofiol Press, for her large donation of resources and capital in the development of the BRNN website; Charlotte Caplan for initiating a fund raiser through her plant sales; Diane Bauknight for her continued expert administration of the BRNN FaceBook site; Marci Spencer —congratulations on her newest book and thanks for letting BRNN participate in her book launch this evening; Frances Figart for supporting articles about BRNN and by BRNN members; Tom Southard for his many contributions as a co-founder of BRNN and for his continuation in a new role as Outreach Director; and to all BRNN members who continue to support the organi- zation and to volunteer their time to contribute to the greater naturalist community in the area for example with Citizen Science projects, Nature Notes, photography, as hike leaders, instructors, etc. The meeting was then adjourned.
Submitted by Linda Martinson, Secretary, 1/10/2018
Letter from Jessie Wilder honoring Scott Dean
Sometimes the stars line up just right and good people are put in your path. That’s the way it was for me with Scott Dean. I had a crazy idea for the Blue Ridge Naturalist program, floated it out to the Universe, got the go-ahead and then I said, “Uh-oh, I need some help.” Then Scott showed up. He helped research other naturalist program models, recruit instructors, and listened to my ideas for the curriculum, offering good suggestions.
The early days of the Blue Ridge Naturalist were wild in more ways than one. There were days when I thought I should just close the door to the storeroom (yes, our first office was a broom closet and storeroom at the Reuter Center at UNCA) and walk away. But Scott would show up, let me vent and we would plan our next steps. I remember the first term of classes. We thought
we would start small and try a fall wildflower class that Scott would teach and a fall trees class led by Dan Lazar. Both sold out in 3 hours and I added 2 more sessions. We were off and running!
There were many other helpers who showed up to make the BRN the great program it is today, but Scott helped me birth it. For that we are ALL very thankful. Thank you for everything you have given to the program, Scott. Your love of the natural world comes through so clearly in your teaching. We are all such lucky and grateful recipients of your knowledge and enthusiasm. You deserve this honor and I wish I were there to lift up my glass to you. I am with you in spirit and will always be grateful that our paths crossed. I’m proud to call you my friend.
Naturally yours, Jessie
Blue Ridge Naturalist Network 2016 Naturalist of the Year award given to George and Elizabeth Ellison on November 12, 2016, in conjunction with NC Arboretum book-signing celebration for the Ellisons.
The Blue Ridge Naturalist Network (BRNN) is an independent not-for-profit naturalist organization founded in 2013 in Asheville with a mission to connect people who share a love for the natural world. Most members of the organization are attending or were trained and certified by the Blue Ridge Naturalist program at the NC Arboretum. Currently, the BRNN represents over 60 community members and over 600 followers and like-minded organizations on social media, and hosts several events and presentations each year.
In 2015, the BRNN presented its first Naturalist of the Year award to Jeanie Martin, who founded the Blue Ridge Naturalist program. This award recognizes contributors who, like Jeanie, have dedicated themselves to the naturalist community in exceptional ways. On November 12, 2016, the BRNN awarded its 2016 Naturalist of the Year award to both George and Elizabeth Ellison for their artistic originality and decades of contributions to education, mentorships, and publications in support of the regional natural history and mountain environment of the Blue Ridge area.
The 2016 BRNN award ceremony for the Ellisons was held in conjunction with a book-signing ceremony, hosted by the NC Arboretum, to commemorate the release of their latest book “Literary Excursions in the Southern Highlands“, which is one of six they have created together. The BRNN was deeply honored to celebrate the Ellisons with the NC Arboretum in November — their commitment to raising awareness, knowledge, and understanding in our mountain region is truly inspiring! Congratulations to George and Elizabeth!
Submitted by Linda Martinson, Secretary of BRNN 3/10/17