In Memorium – Jim Varnum

 

If I had a flag pole, my flag would be flying at half mast, honoring our fellow Texas Master Naturalist, Jim Varnum, who passed away April 25, 2016.

Jim was the best of the best of us. He was one of the founding members of NTMN, completing his class work in 1999. Since then, he has led more plant and bird walks than anyone, and logged well over 10,000 hours in volunteer service to the community. In addition, Jim was known for his always interesting “This & That,” and for approving and announcing volunteer and advanced training hour opportunities.

Although he was an engineer, he developed a substantial knowledge about birds and plants as a result of reading and self-study. His engineering discipline was shown in his pursuit of knowledge. If he did not know the name of a plant he would connect with others who could tell him, and then report it back to whoever asked him about it.

It was unusual to find a day when Jim was not traveling somewhere or exploring the meadows and woods. He put his knowledge and good sense of humor to great use as an excellent teacher to all the communities and TMNs in North Texas.

At the December 3, 2014 Awards dinner at Trinity River Audubon Center, The North Texas Master Naturalists honored Jim with a new award – Award for Exceptional Service. I had the privilege of giving the speech that night, and presenting him with a red cedar bench with a plaque attached which says: “Dedicated to Jim Varnum, Naturally.” The bench is now installed at Cedar Ridge Preserve.

It is impossible to replace Jim. He was truly one-of-a-kind, and we will miss him.

Jim Folger

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