June 1: Master Naturalists

Dr. Culwell visits with Master Naturalists at South Fork

Master Naturalists Visit South Fork

Dr. Don Culwell, Programs Director

Saturday, June 1, was the day for Don Culwell to meet with returning Master Naturalists of the Foothills Chapter and those just completing their requirements for graduation and entrance into the full program. This experience at SFNC seems to happen each year at this time…what fun it is for everyone!

Dr. Culwell visits with Master Naturalists at South Fork

Culwell had fun showing the “students” how to identify trees along a trail before everyone finds a seat on a bench beside a table at the pavilion for a closer look at seeds, seedlings, herbaceous plants, woody plants and just what makes them to be what they are. There is function and purpose for each structure, from the parts of a seed, to the making of the xylem tissue to conduct water, and the phloem tissue to conduct sugars made in the green tissues of the leaves. These plants, both the soft herbaceous and the woody ones, function to make flowers with all their exciting and intriguing parts (ever consider how a single pollen grain can grow a long tube to deliver its two sperm to the egg in the developing ovule?) And there are so many plants in the forest, so many different species, each with their own peculiar structures, colors, sizes, and even the functions they serve in the total ecosystem where they have been planted by nature. And so it goes for the class study!

Then, all filled with the exciting knowledge of plant life, the scene in the pavilion changed to one where some of these fruits, seeds, and leaves were made into a “table spread” fit for any king, one that was sure to satisfy the pallet and any hunger that had been worked up into the frenzy of an appetite!

After lunch, ten new Master Naturalists soon received their certificates and had their pictures made showing a remembrance of the occasion. Welcome all you Master Naturalists into a fine program and welcome, also, to the South Fork Nature Center where lots of activity and things “outdoors” are always happening!

CBS: Significant Year for Monarchs in Mexico

This is an amazing video about the Monarchs’ mass migration to Mexico (and a great classroom presentation!) #monarchconservation
Monarch conservation is very close to our hearts. That’s why we partner with other conservation initiatives to help develop Monarch habitats at South Fork, support milkweed species cultivation, and educate students with hands-on enrichment activities such as our Pollinator Event & Butterfly Release!

First Spring Classes at South Fork

March 18 & 19, 2019

Those sunny days found 12 students (grades K-4) on Monday and 10 students (grades 5-7) on the trails, at the table in the pavilion-outdoor classroom, and around the fire pit investigating nature at its best, up front and real!

Melissa Bradley and Melissa Belote (teachers from Counseling Associates) brought their Greenbrier students during their spring break from school to experience nature, investigating what they saw in the woods, talking about the plants and animals in their ecosystem habitats. What a great time it was as students put their classroom learning from back at school into the “outdoor classroom” as they talked about the trees, flowers, and the animals living among them.

Among the times spent with docents, flowers were dissected noting structures and functions, the flow of water and nutrients through stems and the functions of leaves were discussed, and a number of live animals were seen (a tiny rabbit, a small snake, some insects, a number of birds).

Have you scheduled your visit to South Fork?

It’s time for teachers K-12 to schedule all day visits to South Fork Nature Center for the remainder of the school year. Plan to come when a bus is available, bring lunches, and get the bus back to campus for the students’ return home after school. Classes are broken up into groups of 10 or so to spend an hour with a docent on the trail, in an art session, in a journaling session, etc., in some outdoor fun exercise that allows for the appreciation of nature outside of the normal, school classroom. WHY NOT PLAN SOME OUTDOOR ACTIVITY THAT BRINGS TO LIGHT THE BOOK-LEARNING OF THE SCHOOL CLASSROOM?

Other non-classroom groups such as clubs, Boy Scouts, etc. are encouraged to visit South Fork; call and see what programs are offered that would benefit your group!

Contact Don Culwell (Programs and Services Chair) for further information and planning: 501-358-2095 cell or donculwell@conwaycorp.net.

Students Plant Trees at South Fork


Nine Students and their teacher, Allison Wallace, from the Economics and Environment Senior Seminar in the UCA Honors College visited SFNC on Saturday, March 2, to plant two seven foot bur oaks they had purchased (Quercus macrocarpa) on northern, well-drained slopes of the Nature Center. The class also dug four black walnut saplings (Juglans nigra) grown by Bob Hartmann and transplanted them to South Fork on that cold, March day (hot chocolate and lunch around the fire pit with nice warmth radiating from the oak logs in the pavilion was most welcome).

These species enhance the botanical diversity on the peninsula. Black walnut is economically important with its rich, dark wood used in construction and building of furniture; bur oaks produce huge acorn fruits, the largest of the AR oak fruits nearly two inches in size.

Know of a local/regional organization interested in environmental preservation/education?

Are they wanting to do a service project, hold an environmental educational event, or even a monthly meeting out in the wild? We would love to talk to them about coming to South Fork Nature Center. Environmental education is our Mission. Community involvement is our goal!

Contact Programs Director, Don Culwell at 1 (501) 358-2095 about visiting SFNC.

Thanks to our Trailkeepers!

January is usually a quiet month out at South Fork Nature Center.

This year, the wet weather has played havoc on some of our trees around the trails. The ground is so saturated that, combined with high winds, we’ve had a few trees down across our trails.

Our great supporters and volunteers from the Foothills Arkansas Master Naturalists were out this month on multiple days doing trail work to clear and maintain our beautiful trails. Master Naturalists Charles Thompson, Bob Verboon and Larry Fliss used their MN skills in chopping up the downed trees blocking the trails. Additional hours were spent blowing the leaves from our trails to accommodate our visitors. Much thanks and appreciation are shared with these great volunteers. You’re what makes SFNC GREAT!