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Member Spotlight: Lisa Spangler

In her own words:

I got interested in prairies after moving to Texas from Ohio — I like to joke that I grew up on Forest Avenue (it’s true, I really did). When we first moved to Texas we lived in an apartment in Northwest Austin and there was a big empty field next to it. There were so many cool plants! I got books to learn about all the wildflowers and later grasses — it was all so different from Ohio. Wine cups, bluebonnets, paintbrush, rain lilies, little bluestem and sideoats filled the meadow. It was glorious to be out there under a big blue sky and so different than the forests of Ohio where I grew up.

After we bought our house in 1998 I tried to plant a butterfly garden and it was an epic fail! All the plants that were recommended by southern gardening books just didn’t survive. I thought that there had to be a better way. And there is: native Texas plants, specifically native prairie plants!

We joined NPAT, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and I learned about PRAIRIES! It blew my mind that there used to be bison in Austin and that Bull Creek was named for the last bull buffalo in Austin. 

Going on plant rescues with friends helped me learn even more and seeing how fast Austin was growing and what little local prairies were left were being developed — like that empty field next to our old apartment — it’s a mega church complex now. Prairies are such a special and little-known resource. School kids are taught about the rain forest and elephants and tigers but there’s not much education about what used to be right in our own backyards. 

Nowadays we have a pocket prairie in the back yard and the front has a mix of flower beds all filled with native Texas plants. It’s a certified wildlife habitat and we have so many birds, butterflies, unique bees, and even a Texas spiny lizard! Many of the plants from those early plant rescues have seeded out and are still thriving.

Some other random notes: I was a two-term president of the Austin chapter of NPSOT, and I was a software engineer for 20 years. If I can learn to draw and watercolor anyone can!


From NPAT:

These days, when Lisa isn’t hiking, traveling, or blogging about it, she is keeping our website looking good and functioning. Her computer and web programming skills have kept us out of trouble more than once!

And, she also teaches art! Her latest role is Ambassador for Art Toolkit. She hosts workshops on ways to sketch and paint the natural world. Lisa first started watercoloring a few years ago while she was recovering from 6 (!) surgeries for a torn ACL. During rehab she would walk to a pond in her neighborhood and use her Art Toolkit to do a little sketch, and to let her leg recover before making the trek back home. Visit Lisa’s blog at lisa.wumple.com

Check out a few of Lisa’s photographs and watercolors!


2 Comments

Steve Schwartzman · April 1, 2022 at 6:36 am

Growing up on Forest Avenue was a good omen indeed.
That’s a good picture from out west.

Sarah Flournoy · April 1, 2022 at 8:20 pm

This is a wonderful profile of a special naturalist and artist.

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