The Boerne NPSOT chapter works hard to protect Kendall County’s native plants. The efforts and accomplishments of our members are vital to our success with native plant appreciation and preservation.
Some of our projects that need volunteers: Native Plant Rescue – Opportunities occur each year to rescue native plants slated to be destroyed. Rescued plants find new life relocated to demonstration gardens, contributed to plant sales, and planted in rescuers’ home gardens. Plant rescues are good learning experiences, and a rewarding way to limit loss of flora and beautify our landscapes. Bigtooth Maples for Texas – A 10-year project to supply bigtooth maple trees at no charge to qualified Boerne businesses, organizations, and residents. Volunteers are needed in November to process trees. Demonstration Gardens – the Boerne chapter maintains a demonstration garden at Bergheim Volunteer Fire Department and participates in maintenance of demonstration gardens at Cibolo Nature Center. Be prepared to have fun learning about native plants while digging in the dirt. Public Education: parade prep for BergesFest and Comfort July 4th parades. Volunteers assemble the float, participate in the parade, and make 2500+ seed balls to give to parade-goers. Rainwater Revival volunteers provide information about NPSOT and answer questions. Learn more about the Boerne chapter npsot.org/wp/boerne/.
CoCoRaHS is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications. Everyone can help, young, old, and in-between. The only requirements are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can effect and impact our lives.
Fort Mason City Park/Hemphill Nature Trail
Project ID: MS-04-A
Project Coordinator: Chris Keating
The approximately two-mile long trail follows a very nice riparian area along Comanche Creek before moving uphill into a grassland area, providing multiple environments to enjoy. This natural asset has been neglected and underutilized, but has the potential to provide residents and visitors opportunities for recreation, health, and education. A volunteer group has been established to draft a plan of action to be presented to the Mason City Council to bring to their attention the value of this asset and how it can benefit the city.
Our three parks have different personalities and offer unique opportunities for education, skill-building, construction, tending, and fun. At James Kiehl River Bend Park near Comfort, volunteers maintain wildlife habitat brushpiles, preserve riparian and grassland habitat, and tend interpretive trails. We care for wildlife observation blinds, tend habitat yards, feed the birds, and nurture native plants at Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area outside Boerne. Joshua Springs Park and Preserve is the site of conservation projects and other activities. Volunteers participate in monthly bird censuses, monitor nest boxes and chimney swift towers, and practice park-keeping in all three parks.
Kerrville-Schreiner Park Butterfly Theater
Project ID KR-04-A
Project Coordinator: Cathy Downs
The Butterfly Theater/Garden was installed in 2000 by the former Friends of Kerrville-Schreiner State Park. The garden is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers and native plant enthusiasts. Cathy Downs says,”The garden is approximately 104’x104’ which is a large and wonderful area requiring quite a bit of maintenance.” The vegetation consists almost entirely of Texas native plants. Both nectar plants and larval plants to attract the greatest diversity of butterflies are emphasized. Cathy directs service mornings and also provides learning opportunities as volunteers tend the garden. Cathy added, “With a generous grant from the chapter’s board of directors, we were able to add plants and renovate aged beds during the spring.” The garden is a certified North American Butterfly Association garden and was certified a Monarch Way Station in 2006. Ginny deWolf leads the Monarch Larval Monitoring Project team on Thursdays. A weekly butterfly census is also conducted. Additional volunteers would not only assure the garden remains healthy and productive for butterfly populations, but would also help assure sufficient staffing during educational, advanced training, and kids programs. Interested in helping and learning in the garden? We would love to have more volunteers!
Chapter members provide a monthly nature study program during the school year for students who are enrolled in the Kroc Center’s afterschool program. Our group of volunteers has planned and executed a variety of programs with the intention of encouraging young students to appreciate nature and to develop the desire to become good land stewards now and in the future. We teach a variety of subjects such as recycling by nature and by man, learning the water cycle, good watershed practices, water insects ID, plant ID, mammals, bats, and more. We use a variety of hands-on methods of study such as scavenger hunts, puppet shows, bug bingo, and others. Our volunteers have fun with the kids and enjoy sharing what they know. The stories the kids share with their parents about nature as they walk to their cars inspire us.
L.A.N.D.S. (Learning Across New Dimensions in Science), Texas Wildlife Association’s youth program, works with students K–12 to create an awareness of wildlife and wildlife related issues. The program immerses children in the wonders of nature from the classroom to the back sendero. Subjects include: land ethics, conservation, wildlife management, soils, plants, ecosystems, and how to be good stewards on private lands.
Volunteers are involved with Last Chance Forever and Muleshoe Farm in the development of trails, gardens, and the restoration of a 100-year-old working farm and ranch. Each year we hope to continue the trails to showcase over 1,250 acres of the farm. Plans include bird feeding stations, permanent raptor flight enclosures for rehabilitation of injured birds, and a medicinal herb garden in addition to our butterfly garden. Creation of a curriculum that gives advanced training in conservation and land restoration is planned. Butterfly and monarch monitoring stations will be established. We began a falconry training program to have a group of trained volunteers who will make presentations about the benefits of raptors and promote raptor conservation. The feelings of holding the birds, and then the exhilaration of calling a magnificent bird to land on your hand is something that has touched each one of the Master Naturalists who participate in almost a spiritual way.
Love Creek Preserve is a gem in the Nature Conservancy’s collection. Our chapter participates in many key volunteer tasks. “Our volunteer efforts have, I believe, raised the enthusiasm level and promoted the momentum for the active conservation/preservation efforts there, ” says Bob McKinley. Projects range from labor intensive (brush clearing, fence removal, and building, etc.) to lighter tasks such as butterfly and plant surveys.
- Annual birding studies
- Annual NABA count
- Tobusch fishhook cactus study
- Monitoring of rare darter in Love Creek
- Monthly water quality testing of two creek sites by Texas Stream Team
- Brush and cross fencing removal
- Major trail building
- Fighting invasive Himmalayan Blackberry growth along the creek bed
The preserve is home to three endangered species and over 30 Edwards Plateau and/or Texas endemic plant species; an incredible diversity of aquatic species in Love Creek, including a rare species of roundnose minnow; and rare spring salamanders can also be found in many of our spring outlets. Rebecca Flack, a TNC employee as well as a chapter member, has management responsibility for the preserve. She says, “I am the only TNC staff person who offices in this area. I rely heavily on volunteer support to help implement management projects and achieve the goals we have in place for maintaining and managing this property for the continued benefit of the diversity of plants and wildlife that depend on it.” Rebecca continues, “We are always looking for new volunteers to join our team, and can almost guarantee a project to fit the interest and expertise of the individual interested in helping us. If a project is not currently in place, we can look for ways to get new projects started that would be of interest to folks. The volunteers who work on Love Creek have become some of my closest coworkers and friends!”
Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Project ID: MS-01-A
Project Coordinator: Tony Plutino
Volunteering at Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area (MMWMA) is an exciting opportunity to experience a place that few get to visit. Opportunities abound to learn a great deal about the science of habitat management, study Hill Country flora and fauna, experience the town of Mason and the surrounding Hill Country, and earn volunteer hours. Creation of an educational xeriscape garden and possible rainwater harvesting demonstration are in development. Other opportunities for involvement will likely present themselves. In addition to providing a very useful service to MMWMA, Master Naturalists will also have a great opportunity to deeply connect with the Mason County area of the Texas Hill Country including its flora, fauna, and people, and to meet volunteers from various chapters in Central Texas.
Native Healing Garden at Riverside Nature Center
Project Code: KR-02-A
Project Coordinator: Becky Etzler
The Native Healing Garden strives to grow, maintain, and protect native medicinal plants. We hope to educate and empower the public to recognize and connect with the healing earth. The group has compiled a reference book of twenty-four plant profiles, including field identification characteristics and medicinal uses. Learn about native medicinal plants, bring gardening gloves, and get your hands into the earth. We meet third Fridays in the garden from 9:30am to 11:00am, and often go on a field trip or out to lunch.
The Opal B. Robert’s Landscape of Hopes and Dreams is a predominantly native plant and passive rainwater landscape developed as a memorial for an exceptional teacher, Opal B. Roberts. The landscape is located in front of Junction Middle School and the “Old Rock Gym” on College Street in Junction. It is composed of a series of rock lined terraces, containing seven separate rain gardens, with granite gravel pathways separating the terraces and plant beds. The beds contain hundreds of individual plantings with over forty native plant species and at least four nonnative additive species. The landscape was designed in 2008 by Billy Kniffen, then rainwater specialist with AgriLife Extension. The landscape has become not only a model for water conservation, but also an outdoor classroom and natural environment that students walk through and take in daily. It adds year round beauty, and creates habitat for pollinators and students.
Propagation of Native Trees and Shrubs from Seeds for Distribution
Project code: KL-12-A
Project Coordinator: Dan Carabin
Dan Carabin has gathered seeds from his property near Comfort for years. Dan says, ” After gathering seeds I was able to successfully propagate native trees from the Texas Hill Country.” These trees included, among others, Black Walnut, Carolina Buckthorn, Cedar Elm, Cypress, Mountain Laurel, and Rusty Blackhaw. Dan also provides plants at no cost to interested property owners for planting on their own land. Now members can help Dan with this important project that perfectly illustrates our chapter slogan, “Keeping the Hill Country Native!”
Project ID KR-03-B
Project coordinator: Kay Tally-Foos
Tecaboca, a 77-year-old Texas Catholic boys camp and retreat center, offers environmental education programs for both public and private schools and retreats for churches and individuals. Volunteers provide ongoing upkeep and expansion of xeriscape beds and support of important native plant and animal species on the 100-acre property, and teach and support environmental education programs (focusing on wildlife adaptations, geology, and water ecology for elementary children) for Kerrville and San Antonio area schools. Any willing hands, hearts, and minds are welcome and appreciated!
“Caring for Our Waters” Our chapter sponsors a Texas Stream Team project to perform water quality testing in Kerr, Gillespie, Kendall, and Bandera counties. Thirteen sites on nearby rivers and creeks are tested monthly. Fifteen chapter members currently volunteer for this project. Each received training to test for pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen, and how to make field observations and report data. Some volunteers have been trained in advanced water quality testing including testing for E. coli bacteria, nitrates, phosphates, and turbidity.
Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
Project ID CC-11-A
Project Coordinator: Lisa Center
There are many opportunities for Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (WRR) volunteers to learn about the hundreds of native wildlife species found in Central Texas while helping them recover from injuries, illnesses, and the trauma of being orphaned. WRR rescues over 7,000 animals per year. The facility operates seven days a week. WRR depends on large numbers of reliable volunteers to keep the organization running. You will find a variety of shifts to choose from, depending on the volunteer position. WRR makes sure enough volunteers are scheduled to cover all tasks and shifts insuring the animals will have the care they need and deserve. Visit wildlife-rescue.org to learn about all the ways to help. Thanks for considering the volunteer opportunities at WRR and keeping Texas wild.