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CDRI Desert NewsFlash

March 2022
Spring is just around the corner! The above photo of the Mexican redbud inside the Botanical Gardens was taken by Alan Wintz, a year ago on March 20, 2021. 
CDRI's Cactus & Succulent Sale 
CDRI's Cactus &  Succulent Sale, one of two CDRI annual fundraisers (the other is the BBQ & Auction), will begin Monday, March 14, and last until all of the 2022 inventory is sold.  In past years, about 85% of the available plants were sold on the first day, so come early.  Gates open at 9:00 a.m. 
For this year's sale, we sourced plants from several growers--each with beautiful plants. They are JOSS Growers, Georgetown, TX; Arid Lands Greenhouses, Tucson, AZ; Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, Glendale, AZ; Green Lake Nursery, Dallas TX; Twin Sisters Nursery, Alpine, TX; and Mountain Crest Gardens, Fort Jones, CA. 
You can find a complete listing of this year's plants at www.cdri.org
We're looking forward to seeing you at the sale! 
Volunteer with the Texas Trail Tamers!
There's still time to sign up to volunteer for the Texas Trail Tamers project that starts March 7! Ten of the best Texas Trail Tamers, members of a nonprofit organization that build and repair trails throughout Texas, will create a new hiking trail starting at the Powell Visitor Center that will link up with the Modesta Canyon Trail. 
You can be a part of CDRI's history by joining the group and volunteering for a half-day to a full week. If you would like to join us, please contact lgordon@cdri.org.  
Thank you!
Author and Naturalist James Cornett
Will Headline CDRI’s Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program
In 2019, author and naturalist James Cornett delivered a popular and well-received lecture titled, Roadrunners: Almost Human. Although the pandemic kept our programs shuttered for two years, we are pleased to announce that James Cornett will return to the Crowley Theater, Marfa, Texas, on Thursday, April 14, 2022, as CDRI’s Spring 2022 Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer.
The roadrunner lecture was one of our most popular lectures. After all, who doesn’t love roadrunners? But we think we may have topped that one with this year’s lecture. Two of the most popular topics among many of our visitors --  ocotillos and hummingbirds -- will be the focus of Cornett’s lecture titled Ocotillos and Hummingbirds: Can’t Live Without You. 
James Cornett, who lives in Palm Springs, California, has traveled extensively throughout the North American deserts, including the Chihuahuan Desert. He holds B.S. and M.S. in Biology. During his career, Cornett has performed biological studies for California deserts since 1973 and served the Palm Springs Desert Museum from 1975-2004 as an instructor, curator, and Director. His 2011 book, The Chihuahuan Desert, is CDRI’s best-selling book. Of his many books, the following are available to purchase: The Greater Roadrunner, The Splendid Ocotillo, Indian Uses of Desert Plants, Wildlife of the North American Deserts, and The Chihuahuan Desert
Sponsored by the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI Nature Center), the Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program is held twice annually, in April and October. The program offers an array of exciting topics relating to nature.
Please join CDRI and friends at the Crowley Theater in Marfa on Thursday, April 14, at 7:00 p.m. for an informative and engaging evening. Guests are invited to stay after the program for a reception and an opportunity to visit with Cornett. Admission is free.
For information, please contact programs@cdri.org or call 432-364-2499
Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Day Returns
We're looking forward to welcoming area 2nd and 3rd-grade students on March 30 and 31 for the return of Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Day!  After being shut down for two years due to Covid, this program marks CDRI's return to offering its free educational programs to children within the T.E.A. Region 18 Service Center area.  
The program is open to students in public and private schools, and homeschooled children. Please contact Rachel Carvajal at events@cdri.org or call 432-364-2499 to for more information and to reserve your space. 
Meet Host Campers Todd & Karla Engle
We are delighted to introduce you to our newest host camper couple, Todd and Karla Engle. They arrived on February 1 as their predecessor BJ King was leaving for sunny Arizona. 
The Engles found us in an unexpected way. They met BJ two years ago when working through the summer at Mt. Rushmore. At Mt. Rushmore, Todd and BJ drove the employee bus that shuttled the Visitor Center staff to and from the employee living quarters, plus all three, Todd, Karla, and BJ worked in the Gift Shop. At BJ's recommendation, Todd reached out to us last summer about a host camping position, so here they are!
Working together at the Information Desk, Todd and Karla complement each other as they inform visitors of the features at CDRI. Almost immediately upon their arrival, they set out to explore the trails, wanting to know everything about the site, and they have been a warm and welcoming presence for all. 
Todd and Karla will be here until the end of April, so be sure to give them a big Texas welcome when you visit the Nature Center this spring. 
We've said it many times, but we'll repeat it, we love the host camper program and our host campers. They each bring a new set of interests and skills -- each leaving their mark on CDRI, each becoming a friend, and always welcomed back to the site. For example, two host camper couples returned recently to visit, which delighted us all! Mary Beadleston and Dave Boner (2020) and Steve and Colleen Mattingly (2019).

Meet CDRI Volunteer, Greg Brock

Greg Brock answered a request a few months ago that we made for volunteers to help us create walking sticks from sotol stalks. After the first day whittling and sanding stalks, Greg returned with his son for another workday. And after that, he returned for more volunteering. We're glad Greg discovered the Nature Center. We think you'll enjoy getting to know Greg in the interview that follows.  
Photo above: Greg Brock kindly allowed us to
take a photo after spending the morning working
on trails.

Please tell us about yourself.
Where are you from, and how did you end up in West Texas?

I was born and raised in West Texas. While I was in junior high, my family moved to a small town in central Utah, and then my sophomore year in high school, we moved to the Imperial Valley region of southern California. I returned to Texas to attend college. After graduation from college, my work career took me from Houston to Los Angeles to Lewistown, Mt. to Irving, Tx. and finally, back to West Texas. After retirement, my wife and I opened a wine shop, and we had a wonderful time with this "adventure" for ten years. At that time, the travel bug got us, so we sold the shop and hit the road. After five years of steady travels, we decided to move down to the hill country of Texas just outside of Kerrville. Shortly thereafter, my wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Knowing how much I loved the Big Bend region, she gave me permission to move out here after her death as long as I promised to "not become a hermit." My three grown children check up on me regularly to make sure I am abiding to this rule.

What led you to volunteer at CDRI?
My volunteering is very much an effort to fulfill my promise to my wife. Unfortunately, many organizations quit meeting or having events just as I moved here due to the COVID outbreak.

Do you volunteer at other organizations in the area, or have you volunteered at other organizations in the past?
I have joined several organizations in the area and try to volunteer for any projects that I could contribute to. I enjoy projects that allow the work to be done outside.

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
I think volunteering is of great value, and to many worthwhile organizations, it is vital to their success. I think volunteering also benefits the volunteers when the interests are aligned.

What do you enjoy most about living in Alpine and Far West Texas?
When people ask me what I enjoy about living in this area, my answer is "everything."

Do you have any advice for others about making that initial step volunteering?
To anyone considering volunteering, I would suggest that you first evaluate your available time, health, and your interests. Volunteering should be enjoyable and gratifying, not stressful.

If you could be a Chihuahuan Desert animal, which would you pick and why?
Unique question. It is my understanding that somewhere back in time, the name "Brock" was associated with "badger." After some limited research, I decided this seemed like a good fit, so my spirit animal is the badger.

Aside from volunteering at CDRI, do you have hobbies or interests that fill your free time?
My other interests include walking, hiking, and traveling. I also love cooking, eating, and collecting and drinking wine.
Thank you, Greg, for joining the volnteer team at CDRI. We hope you enjoy many more volunteer hours and days with us!
CDRI Cleans Up Roadside

CDRI volunteers made a difference on Saturday, February 19, cleaning up the roadside along the two-mile stretch of St. Hwy 118 - an area CDRI Nature Center "adopted" through the Adopt-a-Highway program in 2017. 
Helping with the clean-up was Anne Adams (CDRI Board of Directors, Vice-President), volunteers Judy Reichelderfer, Karen Struthers, Annette Carter, and Lisa Fargason Gordon, Executive Director. 

  Above left: Anne Adams. Above right: Judy Reichelderfer and Karen Struthers.
Above left: Annette Carter. Above right: Eight bags of trash were collected, plus a few wood planks. 
Join the CDRI Team!

Applications Now Being Accepted for Seasonal Work

We’re accepting applications for a Gift Shop/Information Desk Host, working Sundays, 12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The position will run from March 20, 2022, to November 27, 2022

Candidates must be enthusiastic and friendly, learn about CDRI’s trails, site features, and facilities to describe them to visitors, and operate the POS system for admissions and gift shop sales.


CDRI offers competitive hourly rates, a collegial and supportive team-oriented atmosphere, and a pleasant work environment.

All interested applicants are invited to forward their resume and a brief letter of interest to lgordon@cdri.org.
2021 Events Calendar
              March 7-11               Texas Trail Tamers & Volunteers - New Trail
              March 14-16            CDRI Cactus & Succulent Sale 
              March 30 & 31         Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Day (2nd & 3rd Grades)
              April 14                    R. Conant Lecture - James Cornett
              April 22                     Earth Day Celebration
              April 28                     Living Things (1st Grade)
              August 13                 CDRI BBQ and Auction fundraiser

From the CDRI Team,
we wish you
happy trails!  
We look forward to
welcoming you this spring to
"the best rural
nature center in Texas!"
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734


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