May 14, 2023 Madisonville, La.
The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) had accepted invitations from three organizations just after the start of 2023 to hold open an iris information booth at their events this spring. The last of the three events was held yesterday, May 13, 2023.
LICI participated in the Bayou Gardens Open House event put on by the US Fish & Wildlife Service on the grounds of their Lacombe, La. headquarters on February 25th. On Saturday, April 15th, LICI held open an iris information canopy at the Friends of the Palmetto Island State Park's Stir the Pot fundraising event in Vermilion Parish, La. LICI's third information canopy was held open at the Explore Nature event held by the Purple Martin Conservation Initiative in Denham Springs, La. yesterday.
One of the US Fish & Wildlife Service social media notices featured the Louisiana iris.
The Bayou Gardens Open House event was held at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Lacombe, La. headquarters complex for their Southeast Louisiana refuges. The event's theme was gardening with wildflowers and other plants to help pollinators and wildlife. LICI's exhibit explained how the wild native Louisiana irises in the swamps and the hybrid Louisiana iris cultivars in home gardens are important pollinator plants for bumblebees and hummingbirds. Their booth featured LICI's Mike Glaspell's photos of hummingbirds and bumblebees feeding on the irises at the Lockport, La. boardwalk. "Mike helped us hold the booth open so he would be there in person to answer any questions about his photography or the Lockport boardwalk," says LICI's Gary Salathe.
LICI's informational booth at the Bayou Gardens Open House event highlighted photos of hummingbirds, insects, and bees feeding on blooming Louisiana irises. The photos were taken by Mike Glaspell, who is one of LICI's volunteers at three of its iris restoration
projects. Mike's hummingbird photos have become well-known and
appreciated among birding hobbyists.
Two LICI representatives and one of its volunteers met with a volunteer with Friends of Palmetto Island State Park along with their president at the boardwalk in Palmetto Island State Park on April 5, 2023. The purpose of the meeting was to review the history of the I. nelsonii Louisiana iris species that were planted at the boardwalk in 2011 and the work that the Friends group has done to try and maintain the planting. By the end of the meeting, LICI agreed to take on a project to increase the number of I. nelsonii irises growing there and to take over the maintenance of the project. After the meeting, the president of the Friends group invited LICI to hold open an information booth at their Stir the Pot annual fundraiser that was going to take place in the park the following Saturday. "We readily agreed since it would give us a chance to meet members of the Friends group and the local community," LICI's president, Gary Salathe said.
The Facebook posting for the 2023 Friends of Palmetto Island State Park Stir the Pot event is shown above. The annual event is the main fundraiser for the Friends group. This event on April 15th was going to be the first one held since the COVID 19 pandemic
kept it from being put on for the last two years.
LICI's volunteer manning the info booth at the event said he talked to many people about Louisiana irises and the I. nelsonii planting at the park's boardwalk and how LICI will be helping out with it. Some of the people visiting the booth offered to help with the effort.
Very heavy rain just after the start of the 2023 Friends of Palmetto Island State Park Stir the Pot event on April 15th reduced the number of people attending the event.
However, attendance rebounded once the rain ended.
LICI was invited to have an information booth at the 2023 Explore Nature Event in Denham Springs, La. held on Saturday, May 13, 2023. The event is put on each year by the Purple Martin Conservation Initiative (PMCI).
The Explore Nature event focuses on nature, conservation, and restoration. It is a way for the public to learn how to become a part of the growing effort to restore Louisiana's native habitats and wildlife. Krista Adams, president of PMCI, says, "It's an opportunity to learn how to become engaged in a wide range of things, from volunteering for marsh restoration projects, planting a pollinator garden, providing safe housing and food for our native birds or other activities to conserve our resources."
Some of the Explore Nature marketing feature a photo that was taken by Mike Glaspell
of a hummingbird feeding on an iris.
The event also included a guided bird walk, native plant and gardening information, live reptiles and birds, activities and face painting. Three LICI volunteers came out to the event to hold the LICI booth open.
"We welcome the opportunity these types of events gives us to meet and talk to the public about our work to conserve and restore our native Louisiana irises out in the swamps and marshes," Salathe says about LICI's willingness to hold open booths at events and festivals. "We try to do about four per year. Combined with having one of our volunteers appear as a guest speaker at local organizations' meetings, it's a great way for us to get the word out about what we do and to attract more volunteers," Salathe sums up.