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“Volunteers working together to measure precipitation across the nations.”
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.
Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses your area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible (see equipment). These precipitation reports are then recorded on our Web site www.cocorahs.org. The data are then displayed and organized for many of our end users to analyze and apply to daily situations ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards.
CoCoRaHS has several goals (as stated in our mission statement). 1) provide accurate high-quality precipitation data for our many end users on a timely basis; 2) increasing the density of precipitation data available throughout the country by encouraging volunteer weather observing; 3) encouraging citizens to have fun participating in meteorological science and heightening their awareness about weather; 4) providing enrichment activities in water and weather resources for teachers, educators and the community at large to name a few.
One of the neat things about participating in this network is coming away with the feeling that you have made an important contribution that helps others. By providing your daily observation, you help to fill in a piece of the weather puzzle that affects many across your area in one way or another. You also will have the chance to make some new friends as you do something important and learn some new things along the way. In some areas, activities are organized for network participants including training sessions, field trips, special speakers, picnics, pot-luck dinners, and photography contests just to name a few.
Pollinator Garden Assistance and Recognition Program (PGARP)
Project ID: HC-00-E
Project Coordinator Richard Coleman
Our newest project is the Pollinator Garden Assistance and Recognition Program lead by Richard Coleman and Pam Lienhard. The program unites our chapter and the Native Plant Society of Texas Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and Boerne Chapters to promote small plot gardens to protect native pollinators and increase the use of native plants.
PGARP has a network of Texas Master Naturalist and Native Plant Society (NPSOT) volunteers who educate local homeowners, groups, institutions, and organizations about the importance of native plants and habitat in our unique Hill Country environment. Gardeners receive information about nectar and habitat for native pollinators and advice about garden plans and plants.
Pam says, “It’s easy to plant a pollinator garden anywhere – at your home, school, business or church, and it doesn’t have to be a large garden. A chain of little gardens throughout the area will provide food and habitat for native pollinators. Your garden will be an important part of that chain.”
PGARP recognizes and rewards gardeners’ important contributions to pollinator conservation by awarding “Pollinator Champion” certificates of recognition during Hill Country Chapter and/or NPSOT meetings.
If you would like help with your pollinator garden, submit the PGARP form Request a Pollinator Garden Consultation or Garden Recognition or email PollinatorChampion@gmail.com
Dr. John Lipe Memorial Garden
Project ID: GL-06-A
Project Coordinator: Joyce Studer
The Dr. John Lipe Memorial Garden is located on the highly-visible county-owned property at Frederick Road and SH 16 Llano Highway in Fredericksburg. The large beds around the USDA service building and parking lot are planted with native and adapted plants, all low water and low maintenance.
Many plants were planted by Dr. Lipe in the 90s. He was the first Ag agent to promote native plants in the Hill Country. Texas Native Plant Society Fredericksburg Chapter (NPSOT) installed more native plants and worked the garden for many years. The Hill Country Master Gardeners took over the entire garden a few years ago – it’s a worthy project. The grounds of the Ag building contain native trees, shrubs, and native grasses, including an American Smoke Tree Cotinus obovatus.
Joyce says, “It’s one of the best collections in Fredericksburg and is often used as an outdoor classroom.”
The USDA service center is heavily visited and folks stop by and ask questions, especially when we are tending the garden. We have seventy or so plants on our list and plant lists are available. Most plants have identification signs. The nearby nursery reports that people bring in plant samples and smart photos of the signs and plants asking to purchase a like plant.
Joyce continues, “A master gardener friend who is a horticulturist in Ingram quickly volunteered plants when he heard I had taken over the garden. Dr. Lipe was his mentor and had encouraged him to grow native.”
Joyce has submitted the Lipe Garden for certification in The Best of Texas Backyard Habitats Program. This program is a joint effort of the National Wildlife Federation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Texas Wildscape program allowing Texans to certify under both programs with a single form. Best of Texas Backyard Habitat took the best of the two individual programs and pushed the bar a little higher, challenging Texas wildlife gardeners to create a habitat that seeks to maximize wildlife benefits and highlight sound conservation stewardship within the bounds of urban restrictions.
We can always use volunteers in the garden! Our regular service mornings are fourth Wednesdays. We usually start at 8:30. Our gardeners come when they can and we usually put in two to three hours.
Most volunteers are master naturalists, NPSOT, and master gardeners. Many of these same members volunteer at the Pioneer Museum NPSOT Garden. Tell your fellow master naturalists and friends to join us!
Email Joyce to start gardening at the Lipe! She states, “I can answer any questions you have.”
Check back to learn about other exciting projects!
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The Boerne NPSOT chapter works 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. Native Plant Rescue opportunities occur each year to rescue native plants slated to be destroyed. Plant rescues are good learning experiences, and a rewarding way to limit loss of flora and beautify our landscapes. Bigtooth Maples for Texas is a ten-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. 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. Parade prep for BergesFest and Comfort July 4th parades where 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/.
Fort Mason City Park/Hemphill Nature Trail
Project ID: MS-04-A
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 Pollinator Garden
Project ID KR-04-A
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
Rebecca Flack 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
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
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 – 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!”
Tecaboca – 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.
Native Wildlife Care
Project ID CC-11-A
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.