This partnership has grown and evolved over the years into a beautiful, mutually beneficial relationship of trust and excellence while significantly impacting the San Antonio community.
Read Time: 4 minutes
Since 2014, The River Authority has valued partnering with Alamo Area Master Naturalist (AAMN) volunteers toward its vision of inspiring actions for safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers in the San Antonio River Watershed (also known as the San Antonio River Basin). This partnership is a win-win— it creates opportunities for a cohort of uniquely trained community members to be intricately involved in the River Authority’s mission while receiving training and experience. Today’s blog will share insights from some of these passionate AAMN members that volunteer with the River Authority!
Who are the AAMN volunteers?
The AAMN Chapter, founded in 1997 in Bexar County, is the Founding Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program. These Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension certified volunteers work closely with local partner organizations like the River Authority to provide educational opportunities to the public and life-giving support to urban plants, insects, birds, and other animals throughout the San Antonio River Watershed.
River Authority scientists train AAMN volunteers to monitor water and environmental quality as part of the Texas Stream Team.
How does the AAMN CHAPTER support the River Authority?
The AAMN Chapter has provided volunteer services to the River Authority since 2014 when the Watershed Wise Warrior volunteer program (now called the River Warrior program) was launched. However, some AAMN volunteers were active with the River Authority long before the creation of the River Warrior program. Current AAMN Chapter Liaison Peter Hernandez recounts an experience that demonstrates his long history of volunteering on the river:
“In 2005, before the San Antonio River Walk was extended and the Locks and Dam were built, I took my 5th Grade Cub Scout den to do the Basura Bash event with canoes. Our starting point was the Brooklyn Avenue bridge, and it didn’t take long to fill up the canoes with basura we found in the overgrowth. To this day, my kids are very conscious of trash going downstream, recycling, reducing, and re-using. That was a memorable day that impacted the scouts in a positive way. This only happened because when I was a young scout, my mom was den leader and took us down to the San Antonio River for a hike and adventure. Until this day, I still hike and walk the river.”
AAMN volunteers are highly knowledgeable about many topics pertinent to the San Antonio River Watershed, which include biological sciences, outdoor recreation, the geographical area of the San Antonio River and major creeks, native plants and wildlife, and local history and culture. This knowledge makes them invaluable assets to the River Authority. “Having grown up on the coast, I understand how what’s in the river ends up in the Gulf, so it’s important to me to keep the river clean,” says AAMN volunteer Lynda Chew.
The newly formed River Warrior Paddling Crew helps clear litter from local creeks and the San Antonio River.
How does the River Authority support the AAMN program?
The River Authority supports the AAMN organization by offering training to its onboarding members in the Fall and Spring of every year on important topics like water quality, green infrastructure, watershed responsibilities, gardening for wildlife, native plants, and other issues related to the conservation of freshwater resources and riparian management. The River Authority also provides a diverse range of volunteer opportunities and trainings throughout the year to AAMN volunteers. These opportunities all count towards the required hours to maintain the Master Naturalist certification and allow AAMN volunteers to contribute their unique skills and passions. AAMN volunteer Lissa Martinez recounted a particularly memorable experience: “I love tree planting. I knew that the San Antonio River Improvements Project was adding a lot of trees to the Mission Reach. So, it was special fun to help plant those tiny trees.”
The partnership between the AAMN Chapter and the River Authority has grown and evolved over the years into a beautiful, mutually beneficial relationship of trust and excellence while significantly impacting the San Antonio community. The River Authority “has done so much to reeducate our city about the value of the river...I have learned to ‘tune in” to the landscape and the surroundings, to better help restore our waterways to health,” says Lissa Martinez.
River Authority Education and Engagement Coordinator Janine Garcia teaches new AAMN volunteers about water quality in the river.
This Texas Master Naturalist program sounds great! How can I find out more?
If you are interested in becoming a Master Naturalist, you can check out upcoming training opportunities. The River Authority looks forward each year to welcoming new AAMN volunteers into their extended volunteer family.
Do I have to be a Texas Master Naturalist to volunteer with the River Authority?
Master Naturalists are wonderful volunteers, but you don’t need to be a part of their organization to be a part of the River Authority volunteer programs. If you’re 15 years old and up, you can sign up to be a River Warrior volunteer today!
The River Reach is back!
River Reach is a quarterly, 12-page newsletter that is designed to inform the San Antonio River Authority’s constituents about the agency’s many projects, serve as a communication vehicle for the board of directors and foster a sense of unity and identity among the residents of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.