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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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The place where everything seems perfect - the Cibolo Nature Center
Jacqueline Beretta

November, 2009

Rarely do I leave the side of my trusty Dell notebook, which is my life, my precious mode of communication, my voice, my constant companion that helps me create stories for TexasNonprofits.

But this morning, I was compelled to bond with nature. Having grown up with access to all the peace and beauty that the Texas hill country has to offer thanks to my father's ranch, I find myself trying to re-create the tranquil beauty I remember in every house I acquire.I tend to plant huge privacy hedges, add gravel driveways, roaring fireplaces, and bird feeders, everything to simulate the wonderful shabby chic feeling of living in the country. But sometimes, my home is not enough, and I must have access to the country, to feel the peacefullness of it all, smell the fresh air, and touch the flowers to be sane.

With my leather hiking boots found in the dark recesses of my closet, I put on my best red country plaid shirt and comfy jeans, and set out to visit the Cibolo Nature Center right in the center of Boerne, Texas. But who would know it was there? This morning was cool and fresh - absolutely perfect for a visit to this place in the country that sits inside the city.

Once there, I was impressed with how good looking the center is - totally Lake Flato meets Ralph Lauren. The buildings and pathways all felt like they naturally belonged there in this perfect 100 acres that sits under the huge canopy of forest, surrounded by savannah, prairie and marsh.

Before I embarked on my walk my sister, Austin and I visited with the passionate founder Carolyn Evans, and the development director Kay Simpson to hear about the Outdoor Classroom they have created (with stations and teachers throughout the property) with the intention of enlightening our children on the merits of being good stewards to our earth.

I was witness to one of the classes led by a volunteer  teacher named Lars, who taught the children about how things you place on the earth, seep into the water, and what this means to us and our health. Even I was fascinated with the visualization he created.And I guarantee you, I will be diligent about what I allow to seep into the earth on my property in the future.

What few people know is that this Cibolo Outdoor Classroom won the prestigious Blanche Hornbeck Award for education excellence, bestowed by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Jamestown, NY. The curriculum, designed by Mary Gomillion, has touched the lives of 4,700 Title 1 (disadvantaged) children.

Can you only imagine what kind of stewardship the folks at the Cibolo Nature Center could teach to these 5th grade students who would most likely then go home and "re-train" their parents? We, as humans, can make important changes in a flash -  we just have to be committed to making change and being good stewards of our land. We could turn it all around today by teaching our children and then obliging them when they ask us to make the changes necessary in our every day lives to ensure a wonderful future for them.

One last stop (before I reluctantly left) took me to the Herff Farm, a recent aquisition of 60 acres, with an old rock house, a barn, and out houses that ooze charm of a far off time. Luckily, Evans is committed to making sure that with the preservation of the farm, we will never have to forget what life was like in a different time far away in the past. 

I realize now that I will visit this perfect place as often as I can - to walk along the Cibolo, on the boardwalk through the marsh, and to sit on the porch in one of the great wooden rocking chairs just to gaze at the prarie grass in the untouched fields. Next time I go, I will take my mini dappled dachshund, Clock, on her leash to walk with me. And, if my computer "Rocky" is lucky, I may take him there as well - we could work well together on one of the picnic tables overlooking the Creek. Sigh.

In the meantime, you might take one of their classes that teach you about harvesting rainwater, about wildlife tax valuation seminars, participate in their opportunities to conduct research, and walk the miles and miles of trails. It's all there.

The Cibolo Nature Center could use your support to make sure we preserve the four eco systems that nature has on display there. To learn more about this amazing place, visit




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