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CDRI Desert NewsFlash
January 2022
Thank you from the CDRI Team
As we go forward into 2022, we want to thank each of you for supporting the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens. Your participation in 2021 helped us fully reopen, restaff, and reach the end of the year, matching our last fully opened year in 2019. Thank you very much! 
Your support also allows us to get back to offering our Education Programs for TEA Region 18 students in 2022!
Thank you to our CDRI members and visitors that we welcomed during 2021. Thank you, also, to the individual donors and the granting Foundations who gave generously throughout the year. We are grateful!
So, being fully staffed and fully charged, let's usher in 2022 with a hearty welcome! 

Happy New Year!

CDRI’s Education Programs are Back!
We are excited to announce that the half-day educational programs at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center are on the calendar for 2022! 
 
“The Earth Rocks!” for 5th graders is set for January 26 & 27, 2022
“Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” for 2nd  & 3rd graders is March 30 & 31, 2022.
“Living Things” for 1st graders is April 28, 2022.

Sessions are from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.


Each program consists of two hours of meaningful and impactful learning that is next to impossible to duplicate in the classroom. 

We offer thoughtfully designed programs aligned to grade-level, grade-appropriate TEA Science TEKS delivered in our outdoor classroom setting. In addition, our volunteer “teachers” – a combination of retired teachers, Master Naturalists, and Sul Ross State University professors and students – present prepared lessons that are fun and engaging. 
 
  • “The Earth Rocks!” familiarizes 5th-grade students with science concepts related to Earth processes (weathering, erosion, and deposition), groundwater, renewable and nonrenewable energy, and identification of landforms while on a ½-mile hike.  
  • “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” introduces 2nd & 3rd-grade students to beneficial insects with a visit to the Pollinator Garden, the parts of an insect as a "make and take" project, creepy crawlies, and bug-tasting.
     
  •  “Living Things” invites 1st-grade students to investigate plants and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert as they explore signs (scats and tracks) of desert animals and play the Food Chain game. Other learning activities will include discovering the unique properties of cacti at the Cactus Museum Collection and identifying the parts of a cactus in a "make and take" project. 
Each Learning Station is 20 minutes in duration and limited to 20 students per station. The hikes are 40 minutes. To ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to participate at all Learning Stations, we follow a rotation schedule, detailed on a scheduling matrix, and provided in advance to teachers.
All programs include a 20-minute visit inside the Powell Visitor Center for a restroom break. In addition, students may explore the indoor exhibits, enjoy a complimentary snack, and visit the Gift Shop, where we offer thoughtfully selected souvenirs ranging from $2 - $20. 

We recommend making your reservations early, as space is filling up quickly. To reserve your classroom’s space, please email events@cdri.org.

All of these programs are free to Region 18 students and educators thanks to the generosity of individual donors who donated to the Education Paddle Raise at CDRI's Annual BBQ & Auction fundraiser, as well as generous funding received from the Permian Basin Area Foundation and the Tillapaugh Public History Fund of Permian Basin Area Foundation, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, The Brown Foundation, and The El Paso Community Foundation with The Troller Fund.
Scat & Tracks Exhibit  Ready for Show & Tell
We're excited to introduce a Scat & Tracks exhibit as our most recent addition to the Powell Visitor Center. Made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous Family Foundation, the display answers a question we frequently hear, "What animal left the scat on the trail?"  In addition to learning about scats, we've also included information about animal tracks. 
The exhibit consists of a series of pull-out, flat drawers that offer authentic-looking replicas of scats associated with various mammals we frequently see on the CDRI site.  Some of the tracks exhibited are polymer casts, while others are flexible silicone molds. We chose these materials because they give the most accurate visual example of how tracks appear as an imprint in mud.  Each of the drawers will have a clear acrylic covering to protect and preserve the exhibit. 
With most desert animals being nocturnal, learning about scats and tracks allows one to investigate animal behavior without seeing the animal. It's a moment that might bring a wry smile when you recognize the determined tracks of a raccoon plodding through a garden path or to recognize the scat left by a fox either on a large rock or in the middle of a hiking trail. 
If the exhibit piques your interest to learn more about scats and tracks, we have several books and pamphlets for all ages for sale in the Gift Shop. 
The bobcat images were shared by Rozanne Hakala, with the remainder of the photographs having been generously shared by Carol DiQuilio. 
 The Trail Tamers are Coming to CDRI!
How do you tame a trail? For those who are curious, we invite you to make plans to spend the week of March 6 - 12, with us at CDRI when the Central Texas Trail Tamers drop in for the week to create a new showpiece at the Nature Center. 
Scott Newsom, President of the Central Texas Trail Tamers described the project as,  "Building a new trail at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens promises to be one of the best projects the Trail Tamers have been involved in for many years."  
The description of the Trail Project continues, below.
The Project
Newsom stated, "The Trail Tamers will be joining up with volunteers from the Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, Alpine, and Marfa area to work on a reroute of the most important trail in the whole Nature Center. Leading from the Powell Visitor Center to the geological wonder of the Modesta Canyon, this work will transform this trail into a showcase for generations to come."
We recognize this opportunity as being an exceptional gift to CDRI. So, with that in mind, CDRI is providing lodging for ten Trail Tamers for six nights at the Mountain Trails Lodge and three meals per day on workdays (Monday-Friday). 
We'll need volunteers to help us complete the trail in the allotted period of a week. That's where we started this story! We need you to volunteer to help with the trail work.  We'll provide our area volunteers with lunch and snacks each day to keep you going throughout the day.
The Trail Tamers and additional volunteers will meet on Sunday evening, March 6, for a welcome dinner and preview of the project. Work commences Monday morning, March 7. Although full workdays, each worker gets two half-days off during the week for rest and relaxation, as needed. Then, we'll celebrate the new hiking trail on Friday, March 12
Yes, it will be work; however, it will be fun and rewarding. We are hopeful that this project will be the springboard that leads to creating a trail-savvy group with the skills to address and support the trail needs of public spaces in this vast region of Far West Texas.
Please contact Lisa Gordon at lgordon@cdri.org to register to volunteer. 
Thank you!
Interview with CDRI Gift Shop Vendor, 
Andy Morgan
(All images in this story are by Andy Morgan.)
Last August, we ran a feature story about one of our Gift Shop vendors, Ellen Ruggia. It was such a "hit" that we have since included a story each month about one of our very special vendors. We frequently hear comments from shoppers about the unique items in our shop, and how much fun they have visiting the Gift Shop, so we thought we would let you in on the "secret" to its success. It's our vendors! They make up a group of incredibly bright, talented, and fun-loving people who not only produce great products but are also nature lovers. 
To start the New Year, we thought you'd enjoy getting to know Andy Morgan. Andy and his life-partner Sarah discovered the Chihuahuan Desert when they arrived in June 2017 as Host Campers. Andy, a professional photographer, has generously shared his photographs with CDRI over the years. You'll find his landscapes on our postcards, on matted prints, and in his "West Texas" 2022 calendar. 
We hope you enjoy the following interview with Andy Morgan:
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you discover West Texas? 
I was born and raised in Maine. In 2014 I became a full-time RVer, sold my house, quit my job, and began traveling the country.  I discovered West Texas after answering an ad to work in CDRI’s nature center.  I immediately fell in love with the landscape and pure, peaceful beauty of the area.
We sell several of your matted prints, and our postcards feature your photographs.  How did you become interested in photographing landscapes?
I’ve enjoyed photography and travel my entire life. My family took many road trips when I was growing up, and I always had a camera in my hand.  I began working for legendary landscape photographer Clyde Butcher in the second year of full-time RVing. He and his wife Niki encouraged me to photograph more and more. After a couple of years of working for Mr. Butcher, I was invited to display and sell my work in his Big Cypress Gallery in Florida.
Was there a moment when you picked up a camera and knew that being a professional photographer was your calling?
When I was a little kid, I thought being the photographer for baseball cards would be a dream job. I also loved collecting images of places my family visited on our road trips. Traveling and photographing different areas of the country stayed with me. However, I think it was when I sold my first couple of prints that I thought this was something I could pursue. 
 Do you have a favorite region or part of the country to photograph?
 My two favorite places for landscapes have been southwest Texas and my home state of Maine. Florida has been my favorite for photographing birds.
What do you see in a landscape to know that it will be interesting to others?  
I’m usually looking for something that hooks me, whether it’s a subject in the landscape or a spectacular sky. Sometimes I get a shot that I absolutely love, make a dozen prints, but not one person buys it. On the other hand, sometimes an image captures my eye alone, and I’m quite ok with that.
Are you currently working on a project?
I spent last summer in Maine and started photographing Lighthouses at night. I’m also looking forward to another West Texas visit, hopefully in the next 18 months. Unfortunately, Covid shifted a lot of plans the last couple of years, and I’ve had to suspend extensive travel.  However, my 2022 West Texas calendar is still available, and I will be offering a 2023 West Texas calendar, probably available in summer 2022. 
What do you enjoy most about photographing the Chihuahuan Desert?  
Capturing the wide-open space and magnificent stars and sky; pure beauty. I love the storms and lightning that roll in around the Davis and Chisos mountains, and the night skies are probably the darkest I’ve photographed. The Milky Way in the summer is spectacular!
 What is the most challenging part of photographing the Chihuahuan Desert?
Watching where I step! This native New Englander is not very comfortable around venomous snakes.
Do you have a favorite landmark in West Texas that you like to photograph?
Definitely, Mitre Peak since I have probably photographed it more than any other landmark in the region. Living and working at CDRI, I had the opportunity to gaze at Mitre Peak all day long. The changing light & clouds around the peak presents an infinite opportunity to capture beautiful images.
 Your beautiful prints and postcards are available for purchase in the CDRI Gift Shop. How can visitors contact you if they are interested in your other work and your current projects? 
My website, andymorganphototgraphy.com.  Prints are available for sale, and you can contact me via email at andymorganphoto@gmail.com.
 

CDRI's 2022 Board of Directors

CDRI is honored to introduce its 2022 Board of Directors.  We thank each of them for their time and contributions to CDRI and their commitment to the organization in helping realize its Mission.

Jim Martinez, President  -  Marfa, TX
Anne Adams, Vice-President/Secretary  -  Fort Davis, TX
Rick Herrman, Treasurer  -  Santa Fe, NM
Tom Feuerbacher  -  San Antonio, TX
Reggie James  -  Austin, TX
Victoria Lowe  -  Fort Davis, TX
Debbie Murphy  -  Fort Davis, TX
Ed Pfiester  -  Los Angeles, CA
Chris Ritzi  -  Alpine, TX

Shirley Powell, Director Emeritus  -  Alpine, TX

CDRI Welcomes Two More to the Team

We are excited to introduce two new members of the CDRI team! In November, Faith Hille became our new Head Gardener, and Michael Funke joined us in early December as the Site Manager.

Faith hails from Austin, where she was born and raised. She is a graduate of Sul Ross State University (SRSU) with a BS in Natural Resource Management, Conservation Biology. Faith previously worked for SRSU’s Borderlands Research Institute, where she identified and collected plants of the Trans-Pecos. Before returning to the region, Faith worked as an interpretive guide for Brushbuck Wildlife Tours at Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. 

When asked why she chose CDRI, Faith replied, “I enjoyed coming out to CDRI to hike when I had free time at Sul Ross, and I fell in love with the natural beauty and the educational opportunities of the Botanical Gardens. CDRI has fostered my love of desert flora, and I hope to pass that enjoyment on to the young and old alike.” Faith has expressed a desire to “further enhance the natural beauty of the Botanical Gardens while educating individuals about the Chihuahuan Desert.”
Michael is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. He has traveled extensively through North and Central America, acquiring a wide range of experience along the way working as an organic farmer, a backpacking guide, an EMT, and in construction, to name a few.
Michael says, “Working for and spending time at CDRI is a blessing that I’m not taking for granted. The natural beauty and interesting biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert make this an exciting place to live. Plus, the welcome from the residents of Fort Davis and fellow employees of CDRI toward my family and me make this a place worthy of putting down roots.” 

As CDRI’s Site Manager, Michael’s goals include maintaining and improving the site. At the same time, he is looking forward to “doing [his] part to help educate the public on the beautiful and fragile ecosystem we live in.” 

Please join us in welcoming our two newest team members, Faith and Michael.  They are both great additions to the team, and we’re confident that you’ll agree.
Volunteers Needed for
Sotol Walking Stick Workshop
We’re calling for volunteers to help us create Sotol walking sticks to sell in the CDRI Gift Shop. The workshop is scheduled for Friday, January 7, starting at 9:30 a.m. The stalks will need to be carefully shucked, sanded, and varnished before we can sell them, and we need your help to make it happen! 

This project is an excellent way to spend 2 - 3 hours working in the comfort of the maintenance building while also getting to know fellow volunteers and CDRI's new Site Manager, Michael Funke.

You will have the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art that our visitors can take home, along with the satisfaction of knowing the revenue from these lovingly crafted, locally sourced walking sticks is helping to support the Nature Center! What’s not to love?

If you’d like to join in the fun, please contact Rachel Carvajal at events@cdri.org.
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
As our thank you for the work that CDRI's volunteers perform throughout the year to help keep the site beautiful, in addition to volunteering as interpretive guides for visiting groups, CDRI volunteers were invited to an Appreciation Dinner on December 4. 
Twenty-five guests attended the dinner catered by Poco Mexico. To all of our volunteers, thank you very much! We appreciate all you do for the CDRI Nature Center & Botanical Gardens.  Your efforts have made a noticeable difference to the site. 

Volunteers of the Year, Judy Reichelderfer & Nancy Foxworthy


Congratulations to CDRI's Volunteers of the Year, Judy Reichelderfer and Nancy Foxworthy. Both Judy and Nancy have reported to "work" nearly every Wednesday morning since mid-2020.  At a time when most everyone was sheltering at home, these two, separately, asked if they could volunteer at CDRI. Longing to be outdoors and working with a purpose, they set to work in the Botanical Gardens. They have trimmed, weeded, watered, and repotted cacti for nearly 18 months! In addition, they have worked at our Adopt-a-Highway cleanup days, also trail maintenance, and have served as interpretive guides. 
We thank Nancy and Judy for their dedication, and we thank all of CDRI"s volunteers. The door is always open for new volunteers! So, please, call us, drop us an email, or just come see us and find out what we have going at the Nature Center!
To receive a Volunteer Application and Handbook, please contact CDRI's Programs & Events Coordinator, Rachel Carvajal, at 432-364-2499 or email events@cdri.org
Judy Reichelderfer, above left, and Nancy Foxworthy, above right.
2021 Vital Volunteers are Honored

Each of our volunteers is special, and they each bring a unique set of skills or field of interest to make CDRI a better place. To recognize their dedication, we created "Vital Volunteers" about five years ago. A volunteer earns the distinction of Vital Volunteer when they log more than 30 hours in a calendar year. In addition, they receive special recognition at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, as well as a token of our thanks from the CDRI Gift Shop. This year's gift was a one-pound bag of Big Bend Coffee Roaster's "Take a Hike" coffee, a CDRI terracotta "flower-pot" mug, and a canvas tote with the CDRI Nature Center logo. Thank you 2021 Vital Volunteers! 

CDRI's 2021 Vital Volunteers are: 
Anne Adams
Annette Carter
Glen Eisen
Jim Fissel
Nancy Foxworthy
David Gutierrez
BJ King
Margaret Mannchen
Jim Martinez
Randall Moose
Joe & Joyce Mussey
Judy Reichelderfer
2022 Volunteer Calendar 

Jan. 7, 2022               Volunteer Sotol Walking Stick Workshop
Jan. 15, 2022              Volunteer Interpretive Hiking Guide Training
Jan. 20, 2022              Volunteer Training for The Earth Rocks!
Jan. 26 & 27, 2022      The Earth Rocks! - 5th Grade
Feb. 19, 2022               Volunteer Adopt-a-Highway - Clean-Up Day
Feb. 23, 2022               Volunteer - Juniper "Sprouts" Removal
Feb. 26, 2022               Volunteer Interpretive Garden Guide Training
March 6-12, 2022         Volunteers needed - Central Texas Trail Tamers
March 14-16, 2022        Cactus & Succulent Sale   Volunteers needed! 
March 30 & 31, 2022    Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! - 2nd & 3rd Grades
April 26, 2022               Living Things - 1st Grade
 
Image of the Powell Visitor Center by Andy Morgan. 
From "the best rural Nature Center in Texas"
We wish you a peaceful and happy New Year!
Happy Trails!
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734
432.364.2499

www.cdri.org


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