August 2019 Newsletter



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As we prepare to celebrate 20 years as a chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program, it is amazing to see the support from our local communities and organizations. We have received proclamations supporting the Hays County Chapter from the Commissioner’s Court of Hays County and the mayors and city councils of Dripping Springs, Wimberley, and Woodcreek, with more yet to be presented. We have received many testimonials of support and thank you from the organizations with which we work. Our local state representative, Erin Zwiener, is scheduled to be at our Anniversary Celebration and present a House resolution recognizing the significant efforts and contributions by our chapter.

At each of the events in which these proclamations have been presented, there has been a gasp of surprise and appreciation in the audience as they read the number of volunteer hours and the value of those hours to the state. This is in appreciation for all the hard work each of you have volunteered over the past 20 years.

As we volunteer for our projects, we know the value and impact that we have on our community. These range from trails, to bird viewing stations, to rain gardens, to nest boxes, to many more. These are visible and tangible contributions. Think also of the impact of our educational outreach, the awareness of the importance of dark skies and how this awareness is spreading to other communities. Think of the many children that have raised butterflies and now have a better awareness of nature. Think of the many citizen scientist programs to which our members contribute valuable data for research projects. These few examples of your work only scratch the surface of the impact this chapter has made on the community. Think about the specific projects you have worked on and the impact you have made. 

We also make small impacts, sometimes we are not even aware they are happening. I recently received an email thanking us for the information and resources we provide on the website. The person had a flower garden, but was frustrated because she saw no pollinators in her garden. She started doing some research and “stumbled” on our website. From the resources provided there and other sites linked to ours, she was able to improve her garden with native plants. She now sees bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other birds around her flowers and is thrilled with the change. This was one person, one change, but you know she will be talking with her friends and this one change will have a ripple effect.

We are often in a hurry and want to see quick changes and improvement in our natural environment, but remember the impact of that one change, then think about the impact and ripple effect of all the work the members of this chapter have done over the past 20 years. You are each responsible for that!  Thank you for all your efforts and hard work.  Well done! 


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“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”~ William Shakespeare

This could be the mantra of the master naturalist.

Go outside.
See the trees, plants, insects, animal life that surrounds you.
Listen to the water and the wind, and the calls of birds.
Feel the breeze, the sun, the earth, the chill in the air.
Touch a flower, hold a frog.
Smell the flowers and the petrichor after a long-awaited rain.
Taste a fresh dewberry or a tuna (fruit) from a prickly pear cactus, forage native herbs.

The world around us is a wonderland of sensory inputs, if we could only convince everyone to participate in it!

For 20 years, the Hays County Master Naturalists have worked toward this end. Master naturalists are observers, citizen scientists, leaders, workers, students, educators, and enthusiastic participants in the world around them.

Above all, master naturalists are a community of volunteers, giving their time and dispensing their knowledge to neighbors, government entities, educational institutions, private organizations, landowners, and the public in general. We seek to protect, preserve, and restore natural areas so that everyone can enjoy them and learn from them.

The following is just a short list of contributions and experiences that the Hays County Master Naturalists have enjoyed in the past 20 years. Over 57 projects have benefited from our members’ energy, coordination, and leadership.

  • Witnessing the joy of a little one as she holds a butterfly for the first time at the Emily Ann Theater’s Butterfly Festival.

  • Building bluebird houses for habitat protection at Dripping Springs Ranch Park.

  • Sharing the enthusiasm of a young student searching for fossils in the creek bed at Jacob’s Well.

  • Clearing invasive species from a field of wildflowers at the Driftwood United Methodist Church Pavilion and Natural Area.

  • Removing invasive plants, building and maintaining trails at Charro Ranch Park so citizens will have beautiful trails to enjoy.

  • Counting birds for the Cornell University annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

  • Recording rainfall for the CoCoRaHS citizen science project.

  • Creating and administering, a website designed to educate people about the environment of Hays County and how they can contribute to conservation and good stewardship of land and water resources.

  • Building and maintaining trails at the San Marcos Greenbelt.

  • Conducting vegetation surveys at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

  • Working at an educational booth at the Dark Skies festival in Dripping Springs.

  • Counting water insects for a biology research study on riparian recovery at the San Marcos Aquatic Center.

  • Learning about the geology of Central Texas and how integral it is to the water quality and environmental health of the rest of our state.

  • Educating the public about rainwater collection systems and the importance of protecting our aquifers due to the unique and porous qualities of karst limestone.

  • Developing a deep respect for the forces of nature/flood that created Canyon Lake Gorge in a matter of hours.

  • Appreciating the spirit of naturalists like Patsy Glenn and Gay Ruby Dahlstrom who dedicated their lives to restoring and preserving areas for wildlife and people to coexist.

  • Cooperating with private land owners to restore, preserve, manage, and promote natural habitat areas like Bamberger Ranch.

As stewards of Hays County — a very special area of Texas that encompasses a great variety of geologic formations and fascinating topography — we are blessed with an abundance of rivers and creeks, diverse wildlife, and plentiful vegetation in prairies and woodlands, all of which require respectful management after suffering decades of abuse in the form of over-grazing.

Nearly 700 individuals have completed the HCMN training program in the past 20 years. Over 160,000 volunteer hours have been dedicated to fulfilling the mission. There is no questioning the amount of labor, coordination, and sheer willpower that the HCMN have demonstrated in these efforts.

Yet Hays County has one of the fastest growing populations in Texas (5% annually) and for this reason it is critical that our human residents have a heightened awareness of the importance of our natural areas and our limited resources.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary as an organized force for change, it is important to reflect on what we have accomplished. Even more significant, however, is what we will achieve in the next twenty years. We’ve only begun to learn, to teach, to understand, to appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer. We have work to do!

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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President – Susan Neill
Vice President – Venita Fuller
Secretary – Tracy Mock
Treasurer – Larry Calvert
Past President – Beth Ramey
State Representative and Volunteer Service Projects Director - Dixie Camp
TPWD Advisor – Gordon Linam
New Class Director – Mark Wojcik
Advanced Training – Beverly Gordon
Calendar – Beverly Gordon
Historian – Dana Martensen
Membership Director – Jane Dunham
Webmaster – Dana Martensen
Communications Director - Art Arizpe
Outreach Events – Paula Glover 
Host Committee – Mary Dow Ross, Roxana Donegan
Training Class Representative – Linda Paul
Newsletter – Tom Jones, Betsy Cross
AgriLife Sponsor– Jason Mangold


When: Thursday August 8th at 6:30pm
Where: Agri-Life Extension office
200 Stillwater Drive Wimberley, TX 78676

Chapter Meeting - TBD

WhenThu, September 26, 6:30pm – 8:30pm



HCMN participating in the Wimberley July 4 Parade.

Welcome to the Newsletter Team

Constance Quigley has recently joined the HCMN Newsletter editorial staff. As a software consultant, she has over twenty years of experience implementing Microsoft ERP/accounting software and working with clients to improve systems and end-user efficiency. When she isn’t providing technical support or training services, writing reports, or managing databases, Constance is outside roaming around her 7-acre property trying to spot the resident fox or watching her beehives or traveling to faraway places to explore the rest of the world. Becoming a master naturalist just seemed appropriate.

Constance in Ecuador a few years back where she ran into this adorable pig.

Thank You 2019 Training Class for inviting me to give a presentation on Hays County Geology. Great hospitality and a fun time.

Tom Jones

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The well-earned success of the Chapter over the past 20 years has been built upon the many accomplishments by its members. Hays County Master Naturalists have a diverse membership that share many common interests. These are the strengths of the organization. Working on the Newsletter for the past 1½ years and the Anniversary Websites, have provided a great window into what the membership thinks about the Chapter. Summarized below are a few of their comments about the HCMN Chapter.  

  • Love of improving the environment in the areas near where they live.

  • Accomplishing measurable results.

  • Having fun in the company of “great folks” who share similar interests.

  • The success of the Texas Master Naturalist concept and its staying power. 

  • Appreciated the Chapter organization and experience of its members.

  • Worked naturalist projects prior to attending the training class.

  • Enjoyed working within one of the best organizations for conservation and outreach efforts within the community.

  • Like to be outdoors and working with others.

There is a bright outlook for the future of the HCMN. The combination of a strong core membership and an experienced Board will drive the Chapter into the future. The education program used to train and recruit within Hays County is mature, always evolving and, I believe, the best in the state.  The challenge is to grow the number of active members. A larger membership offers many benefits. These include sustaining the current projects and programs benefiting Hays County. There is good opportunity to grow membership by working to increase the percentage of trainees joining the Chapter. I support this goal and will work with the board to achieve it. 

Betsy Cross, Constance Quigley, & Eva Frost

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20th Anniversary Recognition

Erin Zwiener

photo by Eva Frost


We will kick off our celebration with a casual social on Friday evening, August 9 at the Shady Llama,, 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. Saturday events will begin at 9:00 AM. See Anniversary Website for all the details.