Please join us in celebrating 20 years as the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program and recognizing our contributions to Hays County.
We will kick off our celebration with a casual social on Friday evening, August 9 at the Shady Llama, http://theshadyllama.com/, 18325 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, Texas from 5 – 9 PM. You will be able to pick up your Anniversary T-shirt if you have ordered one. The Shady Llama offers adult beverages and has two food trucks on site.
Our main event will be Saturday, August 10 at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park with recognition of many of our projects and recollections from the early years. Please bring your memories and share!
Saturday events will begin at 9:00 AM and will include two AT opportunities (for a total of 1.5 hours of AT): a tour of the Dripping Springs Ranch Park project including the trails, the bird observation station, and blue bird trail; and an opportunity for reviewing and practicing the use of the iNaturalist App. Each will last 45 minutes and will run concurrently at both 9:10 and 9:55.
There will then be time to socialize and review the pictures and other memorabilia from the chapter.
A picnic lunch (with vegetarian option) will be served at 11:30 at a cost of $10 per person (cash or check at the door.) A reservation for lunch is required. To make a reservation please send an email to Mary Dow Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, August 5 and include the name of any guest(s) you may be bringing. If you or your guest would like the vegetarian option, please indicate that in your email. You will receive a response to your email reservation. We want to be sure to have an accurate count for the caterer, so we appreciate being notified of any change in your plans as soon as possible once you have made a reservation. No-shows will be billed, if notification is not made by August 5.
After lunch, we will have a video highlighting some of the early days of the chapter and round table discussion to talk about the early years and the evolution of the chapter. This will include Billy Kniffen, the founder of the chapter, and Mary Pearl Meuth from Texas Parks and Wildlife, to discuss the history of the Texas Master Naturalist program.
We will have door prizes! If you would like to donate a door prize, please bring it to the Ranch Park on Saturday morning. We hope to see you (and your guests) at one or both events!
The Anniversary Website is updated frequently as new photos, videos, articles and Chapter history are added.
LATEST ANNIVERSARY NEWS
Added Doray Lendacky and Mark Wojcik interviews.
Added Beverly Gordon and Mary O’Hara interviews.
Added Leah Laszewski, Lance Jones, Cynthia Hobson & Kenneth Dees interviews.
Added Judy Burdett interview.
Added Interviews with BOB CURRIE 2011 Painted Buntings & DELL AND GERIN HOOD, 1999 Roadrunner Class
Added Copy of the first Newsletter.
Anniversary Class Member Names added to Class Photos.
HCMN Testimonials added.
Member Interviews increasing each week. View all Member Stories HERE.
Read the First Newsletter of what would become the Hays County Master Naturalist Chapter- Click Here
DORAY LENDACKY - 2019 - TEXAS HORNED LIZARDS
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: Eastern Bluebird nest box - made 2 "permanent" bird boxes from the supplies and instructions provided by Bonnie Tull. I cut and drilled all the PVC, and then assembled the boxes.
They will replace the older ones in Dripping Springs Ranch Park.
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: Participating with the Outdoor Educators in March to tell 3rd graders about birds.
The kids were very interested and enthusiastic about the topics. It was very easy to get into character and be 9 years old again.
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: I love to learn. It's exciting to hang out with the same type of people that get as excited as I do when we discover an insect, bird, plant, etc on the site visits or field trips during the certification training period. I remember, after the class presentation at the Freeman Ranch we were given butterfly nets. Our mission: to collect butterflies and identify (with the help of our instructor). We worked as teams of two as they were only enough nets for 1/2 the class. So imagine, 15 - 20 people running thru the fields with butterfly nets. At one point, I realized we probably look like escapees from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: The tip of the iceberg. I'm in the class of 2019 so it's exciting to find my passion in and with an organization whose members share the same respect for the environment and planet Earth as me. It's the tip of the iceberg because I'm just getting started on this new journey with Mother Nature and sharing this journey with others.
MARK WOJCIK - 2016 RAVENS
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: I put caterpillar food in the little containers for the Butterfly Festival.
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: I have really enjoyed being on the Training Committee, mostly because it gives me a chance to revisit the material and keep reinforcing what we are learning.
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: Before I figured out the various communication tools that we use as a chapter I kept getting emails about LBB's. I finally figured out that these notes were encouraging me to learn more about "little brown birds." I've made some progress, but have to admit I still can't tell most of them apart despite all the encouragement.
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: I have only been here a few years, but having such a substantial and well developed organization in place has greatly enhanced my appreciation of where I am living and how rapidly I felt "at home" as I settled into my new life here.
MARY O’HARA - 2015 CYPRESSES
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: Perhaps VMS will refute me, but I recall my first volunteer experience at the Emily Ann Butterfly Festival. I had the privilege of releasing butterflies, witnessing the awe and wonder of young minds. This also afforded me an eye-opening insight of how little society knows about our precious resources & native species. Thus, flaming a passion to protect and preserve nature however I can!
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: My favorite activity is simply being outside! Since graduation, I’ve been on the Training Committee’s Site Visit Team and seem to have a talent for recruitment. (You’ll find me a most outreach events, hawking the program.) I find this committee’s genuine dedication, diverse backgrounds, and infectious humor are a magnet that keeps drawing me back year after year.
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: I suppose I have been a Naturalist all my life, beginning with my grandmother’s teachings about birds. When Lauren Young and I graduated, we were so inspired that we went out and got dragonfly tattoos! I proudly display this at every opportunity to talk about HCMN.
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: This tribe has become my church. I find renewed spiritual energy with every encounter! I feel blessed to surround myself with like-minded souls who devote time and energy to rescue & revive all things in nature.
BEVERLY GORDON - 2013 TEXAS SAGES
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: I believe my first project was at Jacob's Well while I was still a trainee. There was a group of us. Most of the guys had some project going that required tools and muscles. The rest of us were sent to remove malta start thistle. I got to know several of the members that day visiting while sitting in a very small space pulling up thousands of Malta star-thistle plants. I enjoyed getting to know these members better but, I run at the mention of Malta star-thistle to this day.
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: My favorite volunteer project and the one that I spend most of my time is Westcave Outdoor Learning Center. I lead tours and assist the conservation team. I love introducing others to the canyon and grotto and providing information about the eco-systems, geology, flora and fauna of this special place . For most people it is their first time to visit and they are blown away by the beauty of the waterfall and unique vegetation that is in the canyon. The conservation work is always fun too. I have helped with building bird blinds, setting posts, clearing fire breaks, invasive and planting trees to name a few.
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: The HaysMN members have made this organization the best there is. It is evident in the many volunteer projects, dedicated leaders, and the many hours that have been spent on them. I believe the citizens of Hays County have received many great benefits as a result and will continue to receive more in the future
CYNTHIA HOBSON - 2018 CLASS - FOXES
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: I volunteer at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment as part of the AquaCorps volunteer diving program. We dive in Spring Lake (San Marcos) to help monitor and manage the lake. A typical task is to remove overgrown aquatic plants that are blocking the view of spring openings from visitors in the glass-bottom boats. I was already enjoying this activity when I became a Master Naturalist, and now I can use this fun activity to get hours for ongoing certification as well as the Texas Waters Specialization. Anyone who is already certified as a recreational diver can take a weekend-long Dive Authorization Course to join the AquaCorps group. Spring Lake is about 70 degrees F all year long. In the summer it is so refreshing to get into the cool water to complete a dive assignment. In the winter it feels fine, too, but getting out of the water into a stiff cool breeze can be a bit uncomfortable! It is incredibly relaxing to dive into the quiet waters, and to get to see some of the largemouth bass, crayfish, gar, and turtles that occupy the lake. It's such an amazing experience - it almost doesn't seem real!
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: Recently I started participating in the City of San Marcos's land management project at the Sessoms Creek Park. This city-owned property near Texas State University was partially covered in bamboo when the project began less than two years ago. City staff and volunteers together have transformed the appearance of the park, removing bamboo, chinaberry, tree of heaven, and ligustrum, and sowing native wildflower seeds. Why do I enjoy it? I've learned something about myself recently. I really love removing invasive plants. There is something almost Zen-like about pulling up a tiny chinaberry sprout, and seeing that you got it, root and all! Also I must mention that breakfast kolaches or a pizza lunch are provided to the volunteers to thank them for their hard work. Master Naturalists all know how important food is to us!
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: These are still early days for me since I just graduated last year! This morning I marched with HCMN in the Wimberley Fourth of July parade. We had the big banner up front proclaiming our identity, the truck (decorated with butterflies) playing patriotic music, and the rest of us marching along behind playing our kazoos. The crowd was very interested in who we were, and appreciative of our group. When we started playing, many bystanders actually joined in singing along. "This Land is Your Land" seemed like the magic tune that really got people excited. It was silly and fun, and I want to do it every year from now on!
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: As a newbie, I am in awe of the hard work that must have gone into creating the Hays County chapter. It is clear to me that Hays County is the best chapter in the state, and I'm just glad I had the wisdom to be living here already, or else I would have had to move!
KENNETH DEES - 2013 - THE SAGES
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance Trail crew. We created new trails and maintain the trails in all six of the natural areas in San Marcos. I was a member of the trail crew before I joined HCMN. Lance Jones and Dick McBride got my interest up and the rest is history. I still work on the trail crew. After I joined the HCMN, I worked in the Discovery Center (formally known as the Nature Center) for several years.
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: I work as a volunteer in the Schulle Canyon Natural Area. I live next to this 22 acre in the middle of San Marcos. I enjoy keeping the trails trimmed and the trees off the trails. I walk this area daily and taking care of this area means a lot to help provide a great place for the human visitors and the natural residents.
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: The whole experience as a Master Naturalist has been great fun.
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: This tells me that HCMN is a thriving and growing organization. I think Hays County is a better place because of the past efforts and the continuing work being done by the members. I feel privileged to be a part of this volunteer group.
LANCE JONES - 2008 CLASS - ROADRUNNERS
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: I do three or four regular projects and they’re all fun. Mostly for the opportunity to be outside with friends and accomplishing tangible results.
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: Every volunteer day is an opportunity to learn.
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: We’ve come a long way, we’re a dynamic organization and we’re making positive changes in our community.
LEAH LASZEWSKI - 2007 CLASS - MADRONES
What was your 1st. Project and what did you do?: As far as I can recall, my first project was at what was then called the San Marcos Nature Center - now the Discovery Center. We tried to showcase native plants by removing invasive, non-natives and keeping the beds in reasonable order.
What is your favorite Volunteer Activity & why?: Truly, I enjoyed every project I worked on. The surveys at the Wildflower center, the china berry mapping, seed collecting and seeding at Onion Creek, monitoring the river in Martindale with the Texas Stream Team, removing water hyacinth at the Meadows Center with SMRF, helping with the school classes at Lockhart SP, "picking bugs" with TPW..........can't find a fav! Satisfying work, really great folks and continuous learning. What could be better?
Can you share a story or funny memory from your early days with HCMN?: We used to go out in Kayaks to collect water hyacinths from the Sink Creek Slough. One time, while attempting to bring a full load back, I ended up with one foot on the ground, one in the heavily listing kayak and you can picture the result. The cool water felt great, though!
What does the HCMN 20th Anniversary mean to You?: This organization is so impressive. The people it attracts, the public education it offers and the measurable results of so many volunteers is so encouraging. The continuing evolution of the program, and particularly of the HCMN chapter is what has contributed to the longevity of the program. This anniversary is a testament to the fact that people can work together, iron out differences and make real progress.