Build Your Own Bird Feeder
I-20 Wildlife Preserve was made possible by a community of givers. Permian Basin Gives is an opportunity to stand in unity across the basin and make a positive impact in the lives of others. We all have gifts to give, and with social media, mail, phone, and delivery there are limitless ways to use your generosity. To make a donation by credit card or paypal please fill out the form below. To make a donation by check please write Permian Basin Gives in the memo line, date the check for August 25th, 2020 and mail to PO Box 2906 Midland, Texas 79702.
We recruit and coordinate community volunteers who are interested in joining our land management crew, becoming instructional docents or offering administrative services. Our land management volunteers work details include construction, maintenance, and restoration of trails, specific habitats, and other land improvement projects on a regular basis. Our docents are volunteer educators who provide instructional learning experiences and strive to foster a sense of environmental stewardship in particular naturalist areas. We work with volunteers who have experience in wildlife photography, event marketing, social media, and general office support. The administrative volunteers who provide a variety of support duties to the education program managers, instructional docents, and Preserve staff. If you are interested in joining our volunteer team you can register as a volunteer.
The butterfly garden is a well-loved section of The Preserve’s educational and wildlife resource. The Midland chapter of Stewards of the Wild worked together with the Girl Scouts and individual volunteers to clear out and mulch the trails near the garden. Trail maintenance is a key component of keeping The Preserve safe and accessible for all. The preserve is used year-round by the community as a well-loved outdoor recreation destination. Timeworn hiking trails immerse visitors in their natural surroundings and turn peaceful mornings and sunny afternoons into an everyday wellness activity. Our thanks to Stewards of the Wild and our volunteers!
This spring we received a grant that provided us with pollinator resource. We worked with volunteer families to plant and nurture over 200 milkweed plants to sustain our pollinator population. Milkweeds get their name from the sticky white sap that oozes from their leaves when they are damaged, and these poisonous plants are what makes monarch butterflies toxic to its predators. Monarchs rely on milkweeds as it is the only source of food for their caterpillars, but these plants are rapidly disappearing. We were happy to be able to restore some natural pollinator habitat with this native plant. Our thanks to our land management team and volunteers!
The Preserve’s wildlife tends to shy away from high traffic areas, particularly on our busiest days. One Eagle Scout came up with a solution to give the wildlife a sense of security while affording our visitors a front row seat to the day’s activities. This beautifully designed observation area offers ten windows at varying heights so that visitors of all ages can observe one of the preserve’s bird feeding stations, without disturbing the wildlife. A small bench and cover allow visitors to rest and remain shaded while they take in the sights of multiple bird species enjoying feeders and fruits. Our thanks to this creative and hardworking scout and all our volunteers!
Project WILD's mission is to provide wildlife-based conservation and environmental education that fosters responsible actions towards wildlife and related natural resource. Developed by TPWD and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Project WILD's curriculum teaches children how to think and not what to think.
The I-20 Wildlife Preserve educators have adapted the Project WILD curriculum for all ages, starting at 18 months all the way through highschool. We focus our education program on early outdoor childhood education at the preserve and work with local public school districts to provide nature-based education to older students, both in and outside the classroom.
At the preserve, we work to provide authentic and accessible outdoor education experiences for all ages. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and in an effort to support safe social distancing we have adapted our programs to a hybrid format. We now offer outdoor curriculum instruction, in a virtual format, that may be enjoyed by our students and educators in any outdoor setting. Long after the COVID-19 outbreak subsides, we will have these virtual lesson available and accesible to any who seek an authentic outdoor education experience.
Most recently we have offered a hybrid Growing Up WILD workshop for informal and formal educators. Sharing the Project WILD curriculum with educators allows us to extend the reach of our nature-based education programs. Participation in the workshops earns educators CPE & TEEAC credits, a Growing Up WILD workbook, and tools to adapt the curriculum for any student in any setting. If you or an educator you know is interested in attending one of our workshops, follow this link to be added to our email list and receive news about upcoming workshops.
The Preserve is an 100-acre living laboratory where students and faculty can actively participate in a hands-on learning experience to reveal the mysteries of this unique playa habitat. Our curriculum is a model of expert fieldwork and spurs the scientific curiosity of students who will make meaningful contributions to the next generation of sciences. We encourage starting outdoor education at the youngest age, and carrying the principles learned for a lifetime. If you are interested in participating in our pursuit of life-long outdoor education, please join our iNaturalist project. An exercise in citizen science, with nearly 700 species identified at the preserve, you may be the one to discover the next unidentified species.
To learn more about outdoor and nature based education organizations in Texas follow the links below.
Pollination is how plants reproduce. It is performed through the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower (the stamen) to the female part of the flower (the pistil). The base of the pistil (the ovary) turns into a fruit when it matures which holds and protects the seeds. The fruit can be juicy and sweet as in a peach or dry and hard like a cotton bur.
Plants may be pollinated by wind, water, or animals (i.e., pollinators). As a rule of thumb, flowers that are large and/or colorful are animal pollinated. Bees, butterflies, beetles, flies, moths are the heavy lifters of pollination. While we often reap the reward of their hard work, this service is not intended for our benefit.
Without pollinators, roughly 33% of our food plants would not exist and roughly 75% of flowering plants that form the natural ecosystems that stabilize the soil, filter rainwater and create our living environments would not exist.
Texas has a wide variety of pollinators outside of the well-known butterflies and bees. In Texas, you will see pollinators like bats, hummingbirds, wasps, flies, and beetles. The most iconic pollinator of Texas is the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay their eggs and as a source of food for their caterpillars. Milkweed plants are in decline causing an even bigger threat to the survival of Monarchs.
Pollinators need pollen for protein and nectar, a carbohydrate, for energy. In bee colonies, nectar is a regular daily food for worker and drone bees. The nectar is stored in their honeycomb before it is dehydrated and made into honey. Pollen is usually reserved for bee larvae and queen bees. Pollinators also need water and shelter. Insects have numerous stages in their life cycles and their needs change as they do.
Due to an increase in intensive agricultural monocultures and as suburban lawns became the new normal for our neighborhoods, the natural habitat of pollinators is in decline. As our landscapes become flowerless and our food production continues to rely on chemicals, pollinator species are in peril. A variety of pollinators have been affected, in the last ten years, we have seen colony collapse in honey bees and a 90% decline in Monarch butterflies.
There are several things you can do to help, but the number one way you can help is to commit to doing no harm.
If you are a landowner who's land is native grassland, you may already be providing a major service to pollinators. The benefit of rangeland has a high impact potential for providing natural habitat, but if the land is mismanaged the area may do more harm than good. Even on agricultural land that is already devoid of most pollinators, there is substantial harm that can be caused from pesticide drift.
Avoid agricultural pesticides whenever possible and avoid chemical treatments in urban lawns and gardens. These treatments remove beneficial insects along with the targeted pests and can lead to worse infestation following application. There are alternatives to these treatments including introducing insects that parasitize pest species, pheromone traps, and mating disruption pheromones. If you cannot avoid use of pesticides and other chemical treatments, implement an integrated pest management plan which may be established with assistance from your local Cooperative Extension Service.
Other ways you can avoid doing harm is to avoid overgrazing which is not good for you, your livestock, or pollinators. Implement prescribed burns within small patches, rotating areas over time to allow insect populations to recover. Avoid killing weeds that support insect populations and are actively defoliated by caterpillars. When possible, mow when plants are not blooming, mow slow, and mow high (12-16 inches).
Plant and maintain a diversity of host and nectar plants, preferably native, with overlapping bloom times. If you already have this diversity on your property, be less stringent when eliminating insect pollinated “weeds”, such as camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris), buffalo bur (Solanum rostratum), and evening primroses (Oenothera spp.; often known locally as buttercups). If you own farmland, you might consider setting aside a portion of your end rows for native habitat by allowing the wildflowers to grow or even planting them. You can also plant buffer strips. The key is to set aside areas where pollinator plants can thrive.
You can always learn more about what is going on with pollinators and the more in-depth strategies out there for helping them. Below are some resources that can help you learn about pollinators.
The Center will foster early childhood development, oversee the K-12 curriculum, guide higher education research, and inspire the citizen science community. The Center will also operate the recently formed Playa Wetlands Research Institute dedicated to the preservation of playa-based research spanning the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Preserve is an 100-acre living laboratory where students and faculty can actively participate in an authentic science experience to reveal the mysteries of this unique urban playa habitat. Our curriculum is a model of expert fieldwork and spurs the scientific curiosity of students who will make meaningful contributions to the next generation of sciences.
Every year our volunteers dedicate hundreds of work hours to the Preserve and in doing so strengthen their civic connection to the most significant green space in Midland. This wholehearted devotion reflects a bond between people and place that allows our visitors to explore and interpret the Preserve together – as a community – and to honor the urban playa as both economically and ecologically valuable.
The new 24,000+ sq.ft. nature study facility will be the only “Living Building Challenge” within a 360-mile radius and will include administrative office suites, citizen science and curriculum-based classrooms, research laboratories, the Playa Wetlands Research Institute, and vibrant community spaces. To us, the meaningful act of connecting with nature fosters a sense of place and balances a healthy lifestyle.