March: LMN-NE Kicks Off

A few of my friends will not be able to look at this one, and to them I apologize. I do understand, as my own tendency to recoil in horror at the sight of a snake, even a photograph of a snake, once was quite strong.

Broad-banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)

I am featuring this photograph of a magnificent broad-banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens) in part to celebrate the progress I have made in confronting and overcoming that fear.

That does not mean I pick up snakes in the wild. Far from it. But I do look for them and try to get close enough–especially when they are non-venemous snakes like this one–to get good photographs. I have come to appreciate their great beauty and great value to the environment.

The story of how I tackled changing my relationship with snakes might be an interesting one to some folks. But instead I want to talk about motivation–a significant part of which was the Master Naturalist program.

Master Naturalists are people who want to learn as much as possible about the natural world so that we can conserve and educate others on sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with creation. I had known for at least four years prior to retirement that I wanted to become a Master Naturalist, but we did not have a chapter in northeast Louisiana. So I and some like-minded folks started one. And it did not seem becoming that a founder of Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast should be terrified of snakes!

Our first workshop for our certification program was conducted at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge–an amazing ecological treasure situated 5 minutes outside of Monroe, Louisiana. Every workshop includes field work, and on that day in March 2018, the reptiles were out in force sunning themselves and drying out as lake waters receded from what had been flood-level spring rains.

BTW, do you see that Nerodia is smiling at you?! Please, please do not kill snakes for being snakes. Everything belongs.

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