Many years ago, Lady Bird Johnson, former first lady of the United States, recognized that our country was losing much of its natural beauty, landscapes and wild flowers along highways and throughout. Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes founded an organization in 1982 with the goal to protect and preserve North America’s native plants and natural landscapes. Over time, the organization has grown and enriched to become the Lady Bird Wildflower Center where guests may enjoy the natural beauty our planet has to offer in a peaceful setting along with education and special events the center hosts including the annual Nature Nights events. This year, the center hosted invasive plant species, complete with a guided hike through the nature trails, amphibians, insects, birds of prey and still-to-come wildlife (with information on how to create a Certified Wildlife Habitat) and snakes! Be sure to come early and have a snack at the Lady Bird Café open from 5:30 – 8 p.m.
I visited the Birds of Prey Nature Night and it was exciting to not only enjoy the beautiful plants, flowers and gardens, but also to see the local volunteer groups, families and of course, the stunning birds of prey presented by Blackland Raptor Center. Resident Bird Care Manager Pam Dancaster and volunteers Mary Schoeffel and Troy Loveday pointed out many fascinating facts about the birds and made sure everyone in the audience was able to see each bird including an American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-Tail Hawk and a variety of owls.
Michelle Poudrette, Barbara Keir and Mary Helen Quinn are volunteers with Capital Area Master Naturalists and were at the event measuring children’s “wing spans.” Capital Area Master Naturalists is an organization created and run by volunteers that work hard to make a difference in the natural resources and education in our community, from digging in dirt to help find samples for a certain research program to staying up all night to count frogs and make sure the ecosystem is balanced, these volunteers sure have a passion for improving our local wildlife and natural infrastructure.
Jackie Okeefe and Nancy Townsend were volunteers at the center that night representing the Travis Audubon Society, an organization that “promotes the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of native birds and their habitats.” The organization also leads field trips and bird walks, monthly speakers and workshops and programs for the young and not so young.
Alice Nance, education manager at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, is passionate about wildlife and continuing education through programs like Nature Nights at the center. Alice says the center is the best place to be and work and the center’s mission is the same as her mission: ‘To increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.’
Thanks to volunteers, educators and hardworking staff members at the center, families can come together to enjoy events like these and learn how to better appreciate and care for our precious planet and all she has to offer us.
WHEN: Thursday, July 18 & Thursday, July 25 from 6 – 9 p.m
Lady Bird Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue
Austin, Texas 78739