2013 Year End Newsletter of the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center
Summary and Highlights
The April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine recognized Fredericksburg Nature Center as the “Best of Texas” for adding to your “life list” of plants and animals. The FNC contains great habitat and wildlife diversity and is found in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. Our nature center was among 20 such areas being recognized for promoting the natural wonders in our state. The article acknowledges the more than 650 species of plants found in our ten acre nature area. The article also recognizes the thousands of hours of volunteer time to make the nature area a special place in Texas.
The annual Third Grade Day in the Park event continues to be very special partnership with Fredericksburg Elementary School. The 2013 event in May marked a special milestone as all of the FISD students from the third grade through the senior class have now participated in “Third Grade Day in the Park.” The last class numbered over 200 third graders including those from Stonewall.
The Pollinator Garden, created in 2012 at the site of a former experimental rose garden, literally erupted in bloom this past spring. All of the volunteer work of Master Naturalists and Friends members paid huge dividends for both visitors to Lady Bird Johnson Park and the thousands of insects and birds who utilized this special habitat. The garden was the showcase in the park until the first freeze nipped most of the blooms in late October.
Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival: A Celebration of Natural Flight: The third annual Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival was successfully completed on April 26, 27, and 28, 2013. Our partners in the festival, the Rotary clubs of Fredericksburg, decided to not continue with the festival because the event did not provide the revenue they had anticipated to fund their scholarship program. We are most grateful to the Rotary clubs for their willingness to develop the festival, their leadership, and most importantly the many hours of volunteer time in planning and executing the festival. The Noon Rotary Club’s partnership in the Third Grade Day in the Park preceded the nature festival and we are very grateful of their long-time support of our nature center development. The FFNC has agreed to continue the festival in late April, 2014.
The reality of conducting festivals, especially nature festivals, is that it takes many years of hard work and patience to achieve success as a fund raising event. The nature festival fits into our mission to promote Hill Country nature and provide an educational and fun experience in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. The Friends board believes that it is important to try to preserve the festival vision because it carries out our mission and we believe it is important and worthwhile to build on our long term vision of promoting Hill Country nature. It also recognizes the thousands of hours of hard work by volunteers, the generous financial supporters, and the support of the City of Fredericksburg to celebrate the myriad of nature experiences in our area. Again our heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to the Rotary clubs and their members. We wish them well in their future activities.
The Friends have set up a Festival Steering Committee to oversee the 2014 Wings festival. Our objective is to streamline the past successful activities while incorporating new activities to attract more participants. Because Sundays were very slow days during past festivals, we decided to start the festival on Friday morning and schedule most off site events to Sundays. This year we will begin our festival with a 5K nature walk and a 3k nature stroll in the park option. In addition to our talks on flying creatures, we will add talks on snakes and spiders to reach a broader audience. Vendors will operate only on Friday and Saturday when there is more traffic to visit their booths. We are considering holding a social event at Pioneer Pavilion on Saturday evening to wrap up the first two days of activities. The field trips to various off-site venues will be the only events on Sunday.
We will offer the successful Last Chance Forever raptor flying exhibition, the hummingbird banding demonstrations, and the butterfly tent again this year. We are working to expand the children’s activities to make them more family-friendly. Our biggest challenge will be recruiting enough volunteers to run the festival. We are counting on our core FNC Friends, Master Naturalists and Rotary members who have worked in past festivals to anchor our team effort to plan and execute the 2014 festival. We invite all of our members to offer their talents and experience to help us both in the planning and running of the event. Anyone interested in volunteering time to contact me (830-997-8917) or Jane Crone (830-990-9823) (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Although we are striving for our festival to become self-sufficient eventually, we will need financial support to produce the festival. The Friends will be using the proceeds earned in 2013 festival as the initial financial foundation for the 2014 event. We cannot thank the past financial supporters enough for their continuous generous support, including businesses, foundations, B&B owners, FFNC and Rotary members. We also appreciate the support of the Fredericksburg City Council through the $4,000 from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Funds to help us with our advertising and promotional needs.
We feel confident that we are on the right track to make Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival a successful annual event in Fredericksburg. Please consider volunteering some time to help make our festival an anticipated educational and fun event for all who appreciate our wonderful Hill Country nature. Thanks to all of our past generous financial and in-kind supporters; we hope you will continue to help us reach our goal to produce a first class annual event for our city, county and region.
Pollinator Garden: When the 2013 spring season arrived, the many months of labor that transformed a 70’x70’ plot from an abandoned experimental rose garden to a beautifully landscaped garden erupted into a mosaic of colorful flowers. Benches under shaded arbors and shelters provided visitors a place to sit and enjoy pollination insects and birds busily performing their roles in assisting plants in their reproduction chores. The magic of the Pollinator Garden lured many passer-by and visitors to explore the most beautiful place in Lady Bird Johnson Park.
To provide visitors access from the street, the HAT crew took action to build a short version of the HAT, complete with drain pipes to allow water to pass under the trail. If you did not get a chance to visit the Pollinator Garden in 2013, please put it on your list of things to do this spring, summer and fall. The garden is an official Monarch Butterfly Way Station and many Monarchs took advantage of our hospitality. Also check out the rainwater harvesting system built to conserve our water resources. We appreciate the many volunteers, plant donors and financial supporters that came together to make this garden a reality.
Education: Our Third Grade Day in the Park continues to be a highlight for the third graders from Fredericksburg Elementary School and for the first time, the third graders from Stonewall. This past year’s Day in the Park marked a special milestone – all of the students in FISD from the third grade through the senior years have been exposed to Hill Country nature.
We are very grateful to the many Master Naturalists, members of the Friends, TPWD, and the Fredericksburg Elementary School teachers who make this great day possible. We are especially grateful to the Noon Rotary Club for sponsoring John Karger and his Last Chance Forever flying demonstration of birds of prey. This program caps a day where the students can see and learn about birds, butterflies, bats, dragonflies and other creatures. If you have not visited our Third Grade Day in the Park event, please mark your calendars for May 8 beginning at 9:00AM and concluding at 2:30PM.
Volunteers: As I have often said, the nature area and what it represents is the product of thousands of hours of volunteer hours by Master Naturalists, Friend’s members, TPWD personnel, and visitors to our city. During this past year our dedicated volunteers worked on the nature trails both in Lady Bird Johnson Park and Cross Mountain, the Pollinator Garden, Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival, Third Grade Day in the Park, Bird Feeding Area, and wherever a need for a worker occurred. The list of names is too long to print, but we cannot thank them enough for the great jobs they do. The main reason they do this work is because they believe in the projects and are proud of what has been accomplished over the past thirteen years. We are grateful that David and Pat Hopf will be our new FFNC webmasters. Many thanks to John Huecksteadt for his past service to FFNC as our webmaster. Cathy Eckert and John Huecksteadt left our board in 2013; we thank them for their service as board members.
The HAT (Handicapped Accessible Trail): Since the HAT was constructed in 2007, the heavy rainstorms have played havoc on the steeper portions of the trail by washing out the softer granite gravel material. We have all wished we could solve the erosion problems. Last fall the City Parks and Recreation Department answered our wishes by applying a three inch layer of concrete to more than 150 feet of the most steeply sloped sections. The concrete was tinted to closely match the coloring of the HAT and textured to give better traction for both shoe and wheel traffic. We are very grateful to the City of Fredericksburg and especially to the park maintenance personnel for their excellent cooperation in assisting our volunteers. We value our partnership with the City.
Donations to the Nature Center: We are very grateful to the Russell Agnew Family for donations made in memory of Russell Agnew. Deborah Agnew has told us that Russell loved to visit the nature trail with his German Shepard companion. A bench will be placed along the trail in the prairie to honor Russell and his friend, Duke. Any remaining money will be used to refurbish the trail signage and educational posters.
Best of Texas: The April, 2013 issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine listed the Fredericksburg Nature Center as the best place in Texas to “add to your life list.” This distinction relates to the seven distinct habitats found in our 10 acre area that hosts an incredible number of plants and animals. Two hundred and sixty wildflowers have been found to bloom here while 178 species of birds have been sighted in the park. Slowly, the best kept secret in our area, is being exposed as having a great diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty.
Nature Area Signage: We are actively looking into replacing the signs and posters found on our existing kiosks. Unfortunately the art work of the Butterfly Habitat and the Trailhead signs created by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department were lost. Thanks to James Lasswell and Mary Ellen Terrell, a beautiful poster depicting the life story of our dragonflies and damselflies was designed and built for a kiosk on the Live Oak Wilderness trail near the dam. Similar display posters are being planned in the birding and geology exhibit areas. We plan to duplicate the butterfly and trailhead signs that are being destroyed by weather.
Membership: Thanks to all of our members for continuing to support our nature area in the park. We hope that you will continue to support us through your membership and also ask others to join us in our efforts as we continue building a first class nature center in the park. We welcome your involvement and your support. For your convenience, memberships and renewals can be completed online at www.fredericksburgnaturecenter.org. If renewing by mail, please fill in all requested information. We do not allow any personal information to be released for any purpose.
To renew online, please go to www.fredericksburgnaturecenter.org. If renewing by mail, please send to FFNC, P.O. Box 2082, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624.
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION/RENEWAL FOR 2014
Name (spouse/partner): __________________________________________ (__________________)
Telephone: (_____) ____________ E-mail: _______________________________________
Membership category (please check one) ___ Individual ($15) ___ Family ($25) ___Corporate ($100)
___Supporting ($250) ___ Sustaining ($500) ___ Benefactor ($1,000)
Thank you for your continued support!
Comments and suggestions:
If you would like to make a donation for the WINGS OVER THE HILLS NATURE FESTIVAL, please go to www.wingstx.org or mail the donation to FFNC, P.O. Box 2082, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.
EAGLE ($5,000), HAWK ($3,000), OWL ($2,000), PURPLE MARTIN ($1,000), SONGBIRD ($500), HUMMINGBIRD ($100)
I support the “WINGS OVER THE HILLS” Nature Festival to be held in Fredericksburg April 25, 26, and 27, 2014.
Enclosed is my check for $_____________________ for “Wings Over The Hills”.
Many thanks for your past and present support of our Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival!
Bill Lindemann, President, Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center