Other than all the fantastic urban green spaces, the other thing that got me about San Antonio were the people. I had message someone about hosting me there but unfortunately, they could not host me in their home, but we instead met up one evening as they insisted I must meet their friends after reading about the purpose of my trip. One friend is a mammal tracker and the other a nature educator, so this was perfect!
My kind hosts picked me up from my AirBnB and we drove to Boerne just outside of San Antonio to meet up for dinner with everyone. This is the most informal meet up I have had but great fun meeting with everyone. We had some great food and great conversations discussing how they got to where they are, why wildlife is so important, the challenges faces as well as discussing the differences between the U.S.A and the U.K. I told them lots about my scholarship and what I had been up to so far.
So, Jonah who is the mammal tracker, is actually the State Mammologist for Texas and works for Texas Parks and Wildlife. His wife Ciel has also studied and worked with wildlife, they have both been published and been involved with lots of different wildlife projects. Super cool family. Jonah has also developed the iTrack Wildlife app, which makes identifying tracks easier than ever before (http://www.naturetracking.com/itrack-wildlife/) and he has even worked on a version for South Africa in addition to the U.S.A. For more information and links to stuff they have done see Jonahs website: http://www.naturetracking.com/ . His parents are also nature enthusiasts and his mom Carolyn is the educator I mention above but in addition to this she and her husband started the Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne, Texas.
My host Debra definitely down played what amazing conservationists her friends are!!! The Cibolo Nature Center & Farm provides nature-focused education, research, entertainment and outdoor activities for more than 100,000 visitors a year, while promoting sound stewardship of land, water and wildlife.
The organisation began as a handful of friends working to make a dream a reality and has evolved into a grassroots organization of individuals and partners committed to the value of hands-on nature education and conservation of natural resources. Brent Evans (dad/husband) has written a book ‘The Nature Center Book: How to Create and Nurture a Nature Center in Your Community’ as well as having made children’s colouring books about wildlife, which I have been given a copy of.
I am so happy I wrote to Debra as she is so kind! Her and her husband Tonio (who has Greek heritage) treated me to dinner, as well as picking me up! Such a lovely couple. Thank you so much for this great experience and for introducing me to such fantastic wildlife biologists and conservationists!