Volunteers and Interns: Critical Resources to the Cibolo’s Success
By Frances Sanchez
In 1988, Carolyn Chipman Evans, her husband, Brent Evans, and many friends envisioned a place to connect their community with nature. This group of advocates worked tirelessly to ensure the creek’s preservation, beginning with a segment of the Cibolo Creek and its neighboring land and wildlife.
Today, the Cibolo Center for Conservation is widely considered a premier example of what a community can do when hearts and minds come together. We continue to rely on friends to maintain the 160-acre campus you enjoy. So much of what we do would not be possible without the help of volunteers and interns.
Volunteers and interns are essential to our work as an organization in so many ways. Volunteers provide guidance to our visitors on the trails, greet customers at the farmers market, work in the gardens at Herff Farm and even serve as guides on night hikes.
As the organization grows and expands its programming, the need for more volunteers is critical. To properly care for our ecosystems, we need help keeping the trails clean, maintaining the gardens at Herff Farm, protecting pollinators, and educating the public on sustainable practices that will create resilient communities in the Texas Hill Country.
“Volunteers are one of our tools for success. Many of our programs would not be possible without the help of volunteers,” said Laurie Brown, director of programs at the Cibolo Center for Conservation.
Not only do we rely on volunteers to help carry out our programs, but interns are also essential to advancing our research and provide support in and around our offices. The Cibolo hosts interns throughout the year; these students come from all over the state and specialize in many different areas that are not always science or conservation-focused. We are open to all students regardless of their field of study.
“I assumed that I would be filing papers, answering the phone, and doing mundane tasks that nobody else wanted to do. Instead, I was able to help conduct research in the field, write articles, meet with key staff and community members, and work on projects that genuinely interested me,” said Elizabeth Matney, one of the Cibolo’s summer interns, who is studying Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
Internships are 200 unpaid hours that are designed to meet each student’s needs. Interns get a front-row seat to the Cibolo’s conservation work behind the scenes.
“We want interns to have full ownership over their experiences,” said Brown. “This is a safe environment for them to learn, grow and explore topics and issues they’ve probably never been exposed to before.”
The Cibolo has longstanding relationships with the many universities in the area, like the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas State University in San Marcos. It is not uncommon to see undergraduate and graduate students on our campuses throughout the year.
“I was able to see how the multitude of employees, donors, and volunteers work together to make this place the best it can be. I saw that within the farmer’s market, underprivileged youth are learning entrepreneurial skills. On the trails, you may find a field trip hosting children who have never been swimming in a creek. At summer camp, you may find children who haven’t had face-to-face contact with their peers in over a year. No matter where you look, good work is happening, and lives are being touched,” said Matney.
Whether you are a member of a community group looking to volunteer for a few hours on a Saturday morning, or maybe you are an Eagle Scout looking for an idea for your final project—we’d love to host you. We would be honored to be recipients of your time, and if you are a student looking for rewarding real-life job experience, we are the place for you. Volunteers and students can contact Laurie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit Cibolo.org.