San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


SMGA News: October 2022

Monarch Fest & Native Plant Sale

Come and enjoy the activities, buy some native plants, and stop by the SMGA table!

You can also see if more volunteers are needed at the SMGA table by clicking on this link:

SMGA Naturescapes Winner
Jennifer Bauerkemper

In September, SMGA awarded its first Naturescapes prize to Jennifer Bauerkemper for her photo of a painted bunting, taken in River Recharge Natural Area this summer.

Although SMGA established this prize last year, Jennifer is our first recipient. To be eligible for the award, a photo must be taken in one of the city’s natural areas and must first be accepted for the Naturescapes Exhibit.

The winner of the SMGA Naturescapes Award receives a certificate and a check for $75. Congratulations, Jennifer!


Larry Hanson constructing another cedar bench, which will be installed in one of the natural areas soon!


Jon Craddit at the Discovery Center recently, talking to visitors about our newest natural area, River Recharge Natural Area.

(left) Volunteers Diane Eure and Vee Volpe ready to greet guests at Snake Fessst at the Discovery Center. (right) SMGA member and Discovery Center Specialist Niki Lake holding a slithery friend.


September’s walk was special as it marked the 11th year of bird walks led by Stephen Ramirez. The walks were conducted through Covid (virtually), in rain, in the heat of summer, and through each migration season. Stephen has done most of the 132 walks with a little support from the Greenbelt Alliance, which is appreciative of his willingness to get people out in nature.

September marked the start of the fall migration season and we saw some flocks tending south, but we also witnessed a number of year-round residents. (View the complete list on eBird.)

Contact [email protected] to be placed on the mailing list. Notification usually goes out on Friday before the Saturday sunrise walk.


SMGA ran into TXST students at Upper Purgatory trailhead on a morning in September. Kristy Daniel (left) and her undergraduate biology students were wrapping up their hike in the Natural Area for a hands-on plant identification field trip. Being outdoors was a great way to spend a Wednesday morning!



On Sept. 29, the Hill Country Alliance held its annual Leadership Summit at the Hall at Jester King Brewery near Dripping Springs.

During the day-long event, participants heard stories about the work of conservation in the Texas Hill Country, learned about what’s being done to address drought and water issues, heard about the need for greater diversity in environmental engagement, and more.

Todd Derkacz and Susan Hanson attended representing SMGA, while several members participated in other capacities, including Leah Cuddeback, Storytelling and Public Engagement Manager at Hill Country Alliance; Matt Lewis, President & CEO at Simplecity.Design; Ryan McGillicuddy, Conservation Ecologist at Texas Parks & Wildlife; Stephen Ramirez, Stewardship Director at Texas Land Conservancy; and Rachel Seets, Landowner Outreach and Stewardship Manager at Hill Country Alliance.

Photo Caption: Todd with the backpack he won as a door prize

(left) Moderator Leah Cuddeback with Juan Martinez-Pineda of the Aspen Institute. (right) David Buggs, Texas Parks and Wildlife, speaking about the need for greater diversity and the role of engagement in conservation organizations. If you are interested in the topics of inclusion and diversity in conservation, you can watch this video, which includes David Buggs, from the 2020 Leadership Summit:

(left) Rep. Erin Zweiner with Kendall County Commissioner Don Durden. (right) Ryan McGillicuddy presenting

(left) Dr. Robert Mace, Meadows Center, and Mitchell Sodek, Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District. (right) One of the 50 or so Nigerian dwarf goats living at Jester King Brewery Farm.


(left) Jack Downey showing the students the compost bucket he uses in his home. (right) Students starting the new compost pile with coffee grounds from the church kitchen and food waste from the Downey home.

On a recent Sunday morning, the Youth Environmental Stewardship group at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church learned how to create a compost pile using chicken wire, zip ties, and metal stakes. Leading the young people in the project was parishioner Jack Downey, Program Coordinator at Headwaters at the Comal in New Braunfels. Prior to taking the class outside to construct the compost pile, Jack discussed how the waste stream works and how recycling food, yard, and other biodegradable waste can reduce the strain on landfills while enriching the soil and creatures that live in it.

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