In June of 1996 there was a meeting . . . and so it began. Members of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department met with members of the department of Texas Parks and Wildlife to discuss the need for volunteers to help support various initiatives that both organizations were leading. The idea to create a training program that focused on nature was born. The new volunteer program was based on the success of the existing Master Gardener Training Program. In 1997 the first class of the newly established “Alamo Area Master Naturalist Chapter” was introduced to a classroom of nineteen students. From that beginning grew a program that is now a cooperation between Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The Alamo Area Master Naturalist program was such a success that it has spread to 44 chapters across Texas. Additionally, 25 states have adopted the program – and it still continues to spread. The mission and program to develop a corps of dedicated volunteers who among other talents: lead nature walks, create trails, participate in bird counts, and generally help to “nurture nature” continues to make an impact wherever our volunteers are found. The Alamo Area Chapter can be proud of our history as the Founding Chapter of the Master Naturalist program.
OUR CHAPTER AND MISSION
We constantly work in a number of different ways and in various locations around Bexar and surrounding counties, and with various supporting partner organizations to fulfill our mission to “develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within (our) communities”.
In support of our mission, the Alamo Area Master Naturalists support several special ongoing projects. These particular projects are important to us; they serve to define our legacy; they are the Heritage Projects. The locations provide educational opportunities to the public and life giving support to urban plants, insects, birds, and other animals. These projects meet three or more criteria of:
- Support of our mutual mission statements
- Financial support of the Chapter
- Dedicated group of chapter volunteers with a dedicated work-group leader
- Link back to the local chapter Board
- Chapter legal agreement with the land owner
WILDSCAPE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN
The Alamo Area Master Naturalist Wildscape Demonstration Garden sits on the west side of Phil Hardberger Park off Military Drive just south of Wurzbach Parkway. It is approximately ¼ acre that was developed primarily with Texas native plants for the purpose of inspiring, educating and demonstrating the rich and colorful options of plants that are available to homeowners when creating, xeriscaping, or updating their landscape space. The plants selected for this garden provide pollination plants and other food sources as well as protection and nesting areas for wildlife and birds. See more.
PHIL HARDBERGER PARK WATER FEATURE
The Bird Water Feature in Phil Hardberger Park provides a dependable year-round source of water for birds and other animals in the park. You can visit the Bird Water Feature at Phil Hardberger Park East, Blanco Road entrance or learn more about this project here.
CHAPARRAL DEMONSTRATION GARDEN
Medina River Natural Area (MRNA) is a 511-acre dynamic environment with native plants and animals where people can experience nature. It’s located along the Medina River in South San Antonio. It offers transitional plant communities, including riparian, ecotone and chaparral. The biodiversity of MRNA exceeds that of other natural areas in the City of San Antonio. It’s the only city natural area in San Antonio’s south side and the only permanently flowing river system in the San Antonio Natural Areas. Learn more.
BUTTERFLY LEARNING CENTER
The Butterfly Learning Center (BLC for short) is located at Voelcker Homestead at Phil Hardburger Park, adjacent to the historic dairy barn and the Children’s Vegetable Garden.
The Butterfly Learning Center was created by the Alamo Area Master Naturalists and is operated by AAMN volunteers. The garden was designed to preserve native habitat, conserve native pollinators, and provide a hands-on learning experience for all.
Plants selected for the garden are either food sources or larval hosts for a wide variety of butterflies.
Behind the Children’s Vegetable Garden there is a hatch house, used to protect butterflies during their chrysalis (cocoon) phase. Phil Hardberger Park 3rd Saturday programs are often held at the BLC. Learn More.