Successful Workday

President Ralph Eckerlin and House and Grounds Committee Chair Steve Sheffield again thank Club members who came out for the special work day on Saturday. We cleared a good path across the rocks connecting to Plummers Island. Hopefully high water will carry some of the remaining debris downstream. On the other hand, more may accumulate, so, if you missed the work day on Saturday, you may have an opportunity to participate in the future.

Passing of Stan Shetler

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Stanwyn G. Shetler on the evening of December 4th at around 9:30 PM, age 84, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. His daughter, Lara, was at his side. Dad was a man of many accomplishments who achieved a goal so few are able to claim; he left the world better than he found it. Rest peacefully, Dad.

Stan was born on October 11, 1933, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He grew up in rural Hollsopple, PA and attended Johnstown Christian School, where his father was Principal and Stan therefore felt it prudent to graduate Valedictorian of his class. His interest in natural history began with bird watching in the sixth grade and was stimulated by his science teacher and fostered by his mother. Ornithology was a lifelong avocation.

Stanwyn earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 1955 and 1958 from Cornell University after first attending Eastern Mennonite College (now University), Harrisonburg, Virginia. He came to the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 directly from graduate studies at the University of Michigan, where he subsequently earned a PhD degree in systematic botany. He spent his whole professional career at the Smithsonian before retiring at the end of 1995. Beginning as an assistant curator, he rose to serve as associate director and then deputy director of the National Museum of Natural History.

Stan’s naturalist interests were wide-ranging, but he was a recognized expert on the bellflowers (genusCampanula) and the flora of the Arctic. His publications number well over 100 scientific, technical, and popular titles, including three books and the Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Washington-Baltimore Area (2 volumes, 2002, 2002). The books are on Russian botanical history (1968), a monograph on the evolution of the New World harebells (Campanula rotundifolia complex) (1982), and the popular Portraits of Nature: Paintings by Robert Bateman (1986), which accompanied a Smithsonian exhibition by the same title organized by him in 1987. He also edited the English translations of the last eight volumes of the 30-volume Flora of the USSR plus the general index volume.

Dr. Shetler was program director of the international Flora North America Program, which pioneered in the use of computers for taxonomic information and set the stage for the subsequent effort to prepare a modern treatise of North American plants. The data produced from this project was among the first in the world to document the climatic phenomenon now known as global warming. His research travels took him across North America and to parts of South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Stan was a frequent lecturer, teacher, and consultant through the years. He served on the board of the Piedmont Environmental Council (1985-88) and several terms (latest, 2006) on the board of directors of the Audubon Naturalist Society, including three years (1974-77) as president. He was a charter member (1982) of the Virginia Native Plant Society and served on the state board of directors as Botany Chair (1996-2003) and director-at-large (2004-2006). He taught plant identification courses for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School off and on since 1963 and in the 1980s and 90s at Northern Virginia Community College.

Honors include election as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994) for “contributions to the formation of electronic data banks and the computer registry of botanical specimens,” and fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences (2002). Upon retirement he was appointed botanist emeritus by the National Museum of Natural History.

In 1995, he received the Paul Bartsch Medal, which is the Audubon Naturalist Society’s top award for contributions to natural history and conservation. In 1988, he was invited by the Chautauqua Institution to present the featured lecture at the celebration of the late Roger Tory Peterson’s 80th birthday. He received the Piedmont Environmental Council’s Individual Award for Contributions to Environmental Improvement in 1981 for his role in drafting a Vegetation Preservation Policy for Loudoun County, Virginia.

Stan was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1970 and served as vice president from 1981 to 1984 and as president from 1984 to 1987.

Dr. Shetler is survived by 2 sisters, a brother, a step-mother, his wife of 54 years Elaine, two children, and two grandchildren. His remains will be cremated and a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Passing of Ronald Hodges

Ronald William Hodges, 83, died at his home in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday, December 10, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine Rita Snyder Hodges, after 39 years of marriage. Ron was born on August 7, 1934, in Lansing, MI, an only child to parents Elma and Lester Hodges, and became interested in Lepidoptera at age six upon finding a freshly emerged Luna moth in the backyard of his Michigan home. He stated his intent to update Holland’s “Moth Book” as a ninth grader. He received his BS degree in 1956 and his MS degree in 1957 from Michigan State University, where he was strongly influenced by Roland Fischer. He went to Cornell University to work with John Franclemont. During this period he did extensive field work in New York, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Ecuador. He became deeply interested in the microlepidoptera, particularly the Gelechioidea, and was awarded a PhD degree in 1961. He received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and commenced to work on genera of Gelechiidae. This project was interrupted when he accepted a position with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service located in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. He had several roles in the Laboratory, including laboratory chief. He stepped down from this position to continue field and laboratory research on gelechioid moths. At the Smithsonian, he met Elaine, a scientific illustrator, and they married in 1967; Ron adopted her two sons, Steven and Larry. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association for Zoological Nomenclature (president 1993-95), American Entomological Society, Entomological Society of America, Entomological Society of Canada, Entomological Society of Ontario, Entomological Society of Washington (honorary member, 1999), Michigan Entomological Society, the Lepidoptera Research Foundation, the Lepidopterists’ Society (president 1975-76), Maryland Entomological Society (president 1973-74), Ohio Lepidopterists, Northwest Lepidoptera Society, Sigma Xi, and Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica. He received the Thomas Say Award from the Entomological Society of America for his editorial oversight of Moths of North America in 1990, the Karl Jordan Medal from the Lepidopterists’ Society for research on gelechioid moths in 1997, and he was elected an honorary member of the Entomological Society of Washington in 1999. Ron was active until retirement in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club since being elected in 1963. He was president from 1976 to 1979 and participated on various committees and work and field days. He was for many years the lead cook in the kitchen. In 1997, Ron and Elaine retired to Eugene, Oregon, where he continued to work on moths (an illustrated, annotated key to genera of North American Gelechiidae) and, until 2011, to edit and publish The Moths of America North of Mexico. Gardening with a highly diverse array of plants and developing and maintaining a collection of mainly pleurothallidine orchids also have interested him in retirement. In his spare time, Ron gardened a highly diverse array of plants, enjoyed classical music and paired gourmet meals and wonderful wines. Survivors include Steven and Susan Hodges of Santa Barbara, California, and Lawrence Hodges of Germantown, Maryland; two grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; his cousin Ann Haseltine of Ishpeming, MI; and Elaine’s siblings and their families; . Ron will be remembered for his big heart and generosity. He loved to share his garden, food, wine, music passions with his many friends and family. Sensitive to every dangling participle, “can I?” and “may I?” were distinguished, as were the salad and dinner forks. He is missed.

Spring 2017 Research Committee Report

To: WBFC Board
From: Neal Woodman, Chair of the Research Committee
Subject: FY-2017 semi-annual report on activities of the Research Committee
Committee Members: Ralph Eckerlin, John Lill, Suzanne Peurach, June Wen.
General guidelines
The Research Committee accepts and reviews proposals for funding to support research on the natural history of the Mid-Atlantic Region. The committee encourages proposals that focus on the Potomac drainage, with particular emphasis on research on, or directly related to, the natural history of Plummers Island.
Individual research awards have a maximum limit of $5,000, although the committee welcomes small projects with lower funding requests. WBFC Research Awards may not be used for principal investigator salaries or publication costs. Individuals can apply directly to the WBFC Board for financial assistance with publication expenses related to research of interest to the WBFC.
Publications from WBFC Grants
We currently have documentation of WBFC support for 18 publications in an impressive array of journals that includes OecologiaAnimal WelfareMarilandicaEthology, and Evolution.
Please remember to send electronic copies of publications resulting from research funded by WBFC to the chair of the Research Committee.
2017 WBFC Research Awards
The deadline for the receipt of proposals for the 2017 WBFC Research Awards was January 15, 2017. The Research Committee was authorized by the Board at its April 2016 meeting to increase spending up to $30,000, but with the actual amount to be determined annually by the Committee Chair in consultation with the Treasurer regarding overall spending objectives of the WBFC. Based on current financial conditions, actual funding by the Research Committee remained at an upper limit of $20,000.
Response to the 2017 call for proposals was good. The committee received 16 complete proposals for a total of $61,239 in requested funds. The average request was $3,827, with a range from $900 to $4995. From these, the Research Committee voted to fund 9 proposals (56%) in part or in full for a total of $20,000.
Awards are officially made for one year, although funds are available until January 1 of the following year. After that date, any remaining funds revert back to WBFC. Hence, 2016 funds will be available to awardees through 1 January 2018; 2015 awards are available through 1 January 2017. Unspent funds from awards made in 2014 and earlier have reverted back to WBFC and the accounts closed.
An annual report for the 2016 research awards will be due January 1, 2018, unless a final report has already been submitted. See grants awarded section to view.