1st Quarter 2020 * Volume 28, Issue 1
A Quarterly Newsletter Sponsored by the Friends in Support of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
Dear Friends,

I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. I am excited that you are a member of our growing family and are grateful that you recognize the unique value the Nature Center offers our entire community.

Thanks to your continued support, the Friends have been able to provide more than $1 million for capital projects at the Nature Center since 2017. Our dedicated and passionate Board of Directors has helped make this fundraising possible, and with your continued assistance, we hope to provide even greater support to the Nature Center in the months and years ahead.

A few of our accomplishments that YOU helped make possible:

  • Due to a fundraising effort led by the Friends, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awarded a $200,000 Recreational Trails Grant to enhance trail facilities at Greer Island. We raised more than $150,000 in matching funds thanks to many of our donors like you.
  • Along with H-E-B, Sid Richardson Foundation, and donors like you, the Friends are creating a new $90,000 amphitheater at the Lotus Marsh Boardwalk featuring a cover and improved seating. Coupled with the neighboring Boardwalk, the Nature Center will be able to expand school programs, effectively doubling its current program capacity.
  • Thanks to a generous grant from the North Texas Community Foundation’s Anita Berry Martin Memorial Fund, the Nature Center received a new greenhouse, storage building, and rainwater system for its native plants program, Native Neighborhoods. The program provided 500 native plants to 100 Fort Worth residents.
  • The Friends and Nature Center staff worked closely with Fort Worth ISD to develop “Trails to Nature,” using a published research model that I created to help students increase their scientific knowledge by exploring the outdoors while learning about science and conservation problem-solving. The goal was to increase student science knowledge by 5 to 10% as measured by pre/post state exam questions. Students actually improved by an average of 25%, far surpassing our goal. The Alcon Foundation provided a grant to cover the costs of the program.

Such an exciting year! You will see construction taking place near the boardwalk for the new amphitheater, and you will soon see activity at Greer Island. We will keep you updated on these projects and how they may impact your visit to the Nature Center.

The Board and I could use your help. Almost every day, it seems I repeat this to someone who is not familiar with the Nature Center, “ The Nature Center is one of the largest urban nature parks in the U.S., and its 3,600 acres provide our large metropolitan population with easy access to part of the majestic Texas outdoors.” Will you join me in informing the people in your life about this amazing Nature Center fact? The more people who are aware of this best-kept secret, the more who will want to preserve and protect it for future generations.

Here’s to another amazing year made possible by Friends like you.
Haily Summerford, MBA
Behind the Scenes at the Refuge
Change is part of life, something to embrace. Although I am personally uncomfortable with change, I know it is necessary to accept new challenges in order to grow. It takes courage to diverge from the current path and try something new. I recently accepted a position as a park planner in the City of Fort Worth’s Park & Recreation Department.
Friends News
Fall 2019 provided some excellent opportunities for Friends members to enjoy the Nature Center. Nearly back-to-back dates in October and November allowed those members lucky enough to reserve a spot to participate in some exciting members-only events. We enjoyed hosting these events almost as much as attendees seemed to enjoy participating!
Growing in 2020
It's been a great start to 2020! Construction has begun on the new Lotus Marsh Amphitheater near the boardwalk. This project is being made possible by generous donations from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, H-E-B, Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, and Architect Norman Ward. Stop by to check out our progress! In addition, be on the lookout for construction to begin soon on the enhanced trail facilities at Greer Island. We will keep you posted as that project proceeds.
At the Nature Center
Several months ago, Naturalist Assistant Avery Pesek rolled out an innovative new program at the Nature Center, Evergreen, designed specifically to reach adults 55 years of age and older to increase time outdoors and improve mobility through a variety of activities. While the Nature Center offers a multitude of programs for all ages, Avery felt the need to focus on this niche of folks and offer them activities at a reasonable price. She did her research, visited some senior living centers, and in the fall, began Evergreen.
This March 9–13, come for a day or all week to partake of the family-friendly activities being offered at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge during Spring Break 2020.
Bluestem Broadcasts
V oters Say YES to Proposition 5
Texas voters said YES to Proposition 5 on November 5 in a big way. 88% of Texas voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution that permanently dedicates the proceeds from the sporting goods sales tax to state and local parks and historic sites. As a result of the vote, millions of dollars will soon be available to build a brighter future for Texas parks. Park Champion and Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center Board Member George Bristol (center) has been working on this issue for nearly two decades. He joined TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith (right) and Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin (left) to discuss what it means for the future of parks in Texas in a recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation podcast.
Staff and Volunteer Spotlights
The Nature Center is experiencing another change with the departure of Customer Service Representative Susie Harrison after almost 11 years of service. Susie has left her mark across the Nature Center, greeting visitors at the entry gate and visitor center, weaving her artistic talents throughout the park, and devoting time and energy to Natural Guard and trail projects. Some parting thoughts from Susie:
The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is not only an excellent backdrop from which to enjoy long hikes, family picnics, and spectacular educational programs, it’s also one of the best places to volunteer in Fort Worth! From taking care of our wildlife ambassador animals to helping remove invasive species, volunteers are helping with every aspect of keeping the Nature Center beautiful. 
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