BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Arkansas Native Plant Society is hosting their annual meeting in Mena this year, where the group was founded 36 years ago. The annual meeting and potluck dinner will be held September 23rd at the Ouachita Center on the campus of RMCC beginning at 5 p.m.
Following the dinner will be a unique plant auction. All plants in the auction will be native Arkansas plants and will be auctioned off by top Arkansas botanists who will give interesting facts on each plant. “We have botanists that auction off native plants that have been donated by members and a lot of them are hard to find. You can’t find them at a commercial nursery,” said ANPS President, Mike Weatherford. “We have a lot of fun bidding and it raises funds for scholarships.” The auction will begin around 7 p.m. Weatherford said everyone is welcome to attend the event.
On September 23rd and 24th, event goers will have their chance to participate in as many as two of four different tours around the area that highlight natural Arkansas flora and fauna. Queen Wilhelmina State Park atop Rich Mountain will serve as one tour. Cossatot River State Park and the Ouachita National Forest are other areas on tour as well. Tour times are Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. “We will offer something for everybody, whether you want to take it slow and easy or something more vigorous.”
On Saturday afternoon, there will be a showing of Catherine Zimmerman’s Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home featuring Doug Tallamy and many others dedicated to creating native landscapes across the country.
“We have two incredible speakers on tap for Saturday evening.” The first at 7:00 p.m. is Dr. Travis Marsico, Associate Professor and curator of the Arkansas State University Herbarium. He will give a presentation on the digitization of Arkansas herbaria and how ANPS members can help.
At 7:45 p.m. Dr. Dwayne Estes, Associate Professor at Austin Peay State University, curator of APSU Herbarium, and Botanical Explorer with Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) will speak on the fascinating similarities between the vegetation in the Ouachita Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee.
Since their first meeting, held in Mena on September 20, 1980, members of the ANPS have been on hand to enjoy field trips, work to further research and understanding of the flora, and be involved in legislative watch, both local and national, involving natural areas and local flora.
“The great thing about our organization is, it’s made up of people that are interested in conserving our native plants and enjoying them, particularly our native wildflowers. We have the best and top botanists in the state. They are willing to share their knowledge with ordinary folks. You can learn a lot and it’s a fun group,” said Weatherford.
To become involved as a member, or to attend the event, you can find more information on their website, anps.org or contact Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org.