By: Dede Albus
This year, the Cibolo Nature Center recognizes an important milestone. We are turning 25, and our birthday wish is to say thank you to the many friends who have cared for, nurtured, and helped develop this nationally known treasure for the Boerne community. The CNC is a powerful example of what a small community can accomplish when you believe.
Two and a half decades ago, when a group of friends decided to get together and clean up a neglected park to preserve its true beauty, they never imagined what wonderful things were to come. Cleaning and clearing efforts revealed a wilderness wonderland with four different ecosystems within. It was discovered that these four areas: woodlands, tall grass prairie, spring fed marsh, and riparian forest, served not just as nature’s playgrounds for all ages, but as critical lifelines for many plant and animal wildlife that depend on them for their very survival. It quickly became important to maintain the 100-acre park for the community’s enjoyment and to support the natural cycle of life for the bio-ecology in the area. Further discovery revealed that the pristine stretch of the Cibolo Creek running adjacent to the CNC and miles downstream actually provides a vital source of recharge for the Edwards and Trinity aquifers – vast underground reservoirs that are the primary sources of water for the Hill Country and the city of San Antonio. “The degradation of Cibolo Creek would not only affect the creek itself but would also negatively impact the water quality and quantity of the Edwards Aquifer, which supplies water to approximately two million people in Central Texas” (Robert Potts, Dixon Water Foundation). It was apparent that we had to take care of this fragile natural resource for the area.
In 2000, a survey of the citizens of Kendall County conducted by the Kronkosky Foundation, found that property offering historic value, watershed protection, and a place for children to play was deemed most desirable for open space. The Boerne community ideals expressed in its Master Plan are to maintain a small town look and feel, preserve its identity and uniqueness, green space and heritage, and to use natural resources for economic support. The Friends of Cibolo Wilderness purchased the historic Herff Farm in 2007, which includes one of the area’s most historic homes. Acquiring this special property gave this community a new resource for outdoor enjoyment, protection of both sides of Cibolo Creek, and a new perspective on the area’s history. A Farmers Market is now open year round at the Farm and features locally grown foods from regional farms and a demonstration garden for children and adults to see firsthand, how to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers organically. A garden education program for children and adults will compliment the Farmers Market in the future. The Herff Farm is this community’s farm.
Twenty-five years after opening to the public, the Cibolo Nature Center has evolved into an internationally known nature preserve dedicated to conserving the lands along the Upper Cibolo Creek Watershed, maintaining natural areas for public enjoyment and wildlife sustainability, and teaching environmental education to all ages. The Friends of Cibolo Wilderness has built a $6 million educational facility and nature preserve encompassing 162-acres at no expense to tax payers. Without the monetary support of friends and volunteers, it would cost the City over $1mil a year to operate.
The Nature Center Book written in 2004 by Carolyn and Brent Evans was recently translated to Japanese and Chinese for publication overseas. Through leading by example, providing environmental education and publishing our work for the world, we are sharing the message of conservation throughout the area and the globe, providing additional opportunity for the CNC to be an ambassador for this great community and the preservation of our precious natural resources.
The future holds exciting advances for Boerne and for the greater Cibolo Nature Center, as we create trails connecting the Farm with the 100-acre nature preserve, install demonstration sites for rainwater catchment, solar energy, and a host of other informative ways to live lightly. At the CNC, we provide happy, hopeful times for families to experience the outdoors in its most natural state. The Herff Farm serves as a center for education on healthy, sustainable living for families and serves as a gathering spot for community activities. Combined they are a priceless community commodity that requires constant protection and care.
As we begin our annual Circle of Friends giving campaign in this, our 25th year, you are an important part of this celebration. We ask you to help us continue to preserve Boerne’s history, protect a vital water resource for the community, and share the wonders of the outdoors for the next 25 years. Visit our website at www.cibolo.org to discover the excitement of the Cibolo Nature Center and Farm, and see how you can provide a birthday gift that will be shared with others for generations to come.
Every Saturday in February
Farmers Market at the Cibolo, 33 Herff Road, Boerne
9:00-1:00pm (Winter Hours)
The Farmers Market at the Cibolo features locally produced, high-quality organic or natural foods and products such as vegetables and fruits, heritage lamb, pork, farm-fresh eggs, exclusively created baked goods, artisan chocolates, edible ornamental plants and organic gardening supplies – plus a demonstration organic veggie garden. Enjoy breakfast and listen to live music while you shop.
Cibolo Nature Center Programs
Bird Box Monitor Training
Bird box monitoring brings humans into intimate contact with wild birds, providing natural experiences that are enriching and sublime. The CNC coordinates citizen science volunteers who monitor bird boxes in our four habitats and at Boerne Lake. We need your help! This workshop will identify common birds that use nest boxes and teach monitors how to determine which species are using their nest boxes based on nest structure and materials. Monitors will also learn how to count and scientifically document egg and hatchling numbers, predict hatch dates and fledge dates.
Presenter: Dick Park.
Location: CNC auditorium.
Time: 10 am – Noon
Suggested Donation: $7. (donations help pay for equipment related to the Bird Box Monitoring project)
Kid’s Club: Bird Watching/bird behavior walk
Come explore nature! The nature center is not just a place we humans go to visit. Birds do too! LOTS of them. Come find out the story behind some of the birds we will see as we take a bird walk. If you have binoculars then bring them. If not we have a pair you can borrow to get up close to our fine feathered friends! Wear your good walking shoes and let’s go!
Time: 10-11:30 am.
Location: CNC Visitor Center .
Cost: $5 per family.
Second Saturday Volunteer Day of Service
Won’t you consider joining us? The nature center needs your help to keep our buildings and grounds looking pristine and ready for visitors.
Projects: Granite Trail in the Teaching Garden.
Time: 9 –noon.
Location: Meet at the CNC Visitor Center.
Boerne Birders: CNC Great Back Yard Bird Count
Join a friendly group of birders who lead our participation in this annual national event. We will bird the 100-acre Nature Center property that includes marsh, prairie, woodland and Cibolo Creek. Bring your binoculars and favorite bird book.
Host: Ron Hood.
Time: 8 – 10 am.
Mother Nature’s Storytime: Owls!
I have eyes like the moon. They sparkle at night. I see my prey in black and white. I turn my head from left to right. Whooooo could this be? This describes an OWL! There are many different kinds of owls living in North America. What do they eat? Where do they live? We will hear a story about owls, listen to some owl sounds and learn as much as we can in the special time we spend together at the CNC.
For ages 3 -5 and their caregivers.
Time: 10 – 11 am.
Cost: $5.00 per family.
Spring Vegetable Gardening
Want to learn how to start a garden and develop your knowledge of natural gardening? Presenter Keith Amelung will cover every aspect of vegetable gardening from site selection and soil preparation to seed planting, irrigation and natural pest prevention and control. There will be hands-on demonstrations working with different soil mixes and vegetables. Attendees will have homework in the form of planted seeds to be nurtured for later transplanting in your future garden!
Presenter: Keith Amelung.
Location: CNC auditorium.
Time: 6 – 8 pm.
Cost: $15 members; $20 non-members.
Attracting Birds: Feeders, Food, Water Features, and Plants
Learn the techniques that have resulted in over 190 species of birds recorded at a single home. Dick Park, local birder and landowner, will show us how he attracts nesting, migrant and wintering birds to his land. After a presentation and discussion on attracting birds, we will go outside to see practical examples of habitat enhancement, including recommended bird feeders, water features and nest boxes. Nest boxes on the Park property produced 101 young birds in 2011. By learning Dick’s practices, anyone can attract a diversity of birds to their home and garden while providing valuable wildlife habitats.
Presenter: Dick Park.
Location: Old Daley Ranch; carpool from CNC parking lot promptly at 9 am.
Time: 9 am – Noon.
Cost: $20 members; $25 non-members.
FIRST EVER SPRING BREAK CAMP
Come to camp! Learn about what it means to be outside, turn off the lights and PLAY in Nature. Cibolo Nature Center and farm hosts its first ever spring break camp. Three days will include time in the country learning how to move through the land, fish, and settle on a farm AND create a garden. We will have fun “summer camp style” activities to include: games, arts and crafts, silly songs and the unexpected joy of a child’s play. Sign up now for this special event!
When: March 13, 14 and 15. Time: 9 am to 3 pm at CNC.
Price: $60.00 per day. Ages: 5 to 12.
What to bring: lunch, snacks, water bottle. Dress for the weather wearing closed toe shoes and a jacket every day.
Registration forms can be downloaded at