News Categories: Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center

12 May
By: Communications 0

JJPV Thanks: January – May 2020

Best Buy Humble employees for donating their time for a day of service to help at NatureFest.

Cabela’s League City for donating $350 to purchase fish for NatureFest.

Chevron Matching Employee Funds for donating $1000 to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers.

Christian Homeschoolers in the Atascocita Texas Area (CHATA) for donating their time to help remove invasive yaupon holly trees around the Redbud Hill Homestead.

Genghis Grill – Humble for donating food to feed 150 exhibitors and volunteers at NatureFest.

Gulf Coast Master Naturalists for donating their time to help transplant 100 native prairie plants.

Jesse Jones Park Volunteers for donating their time and talent to guarantee the success of Jones Park’s programs.

John Egan (Gulf Coast Master Naturalists) for donating his time to remove invasive plants from the park.

Paul and Nancy Boyd – Batstone for their generous donation of $100 to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers.

Quest Early College High School Service Learning Program students for dedicating their time each week for pioneer tours and habitat restoration.

 

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11 May
By: Communications 0

Meet Jones Park Volunteer Coordinator Brent Wilkins

Brent Wilkins has loved nature and the outdoors for as long as he can remember. Wilkins grew up exploring the wilds of Oklahoma with his father and grandfather and began volunteering with exotic animals before graduating high school. As an adult, he’s worked as a zookeeper, environmental programs specialist, and now as the volunteer coordinator at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.

A self-described people person, Wilkins believes his duties at Jones Park fit his personality perfectly. He’s grateful for the opportunity to interact with a variety of interesting people in a setting that he enjoys.

You can learn more about Wilkins and his work with wildlife and nature below.

 

What should people know about you?

I grew up in Oklahoma City as the youngest of three brothers. My paternal grandparents were ministers, and my maternal grandparents ran a small dairy farm and a second-hand store. Before retiring a few years ago, my father worked in law enforcement, and my mother worked in the oil and gas field. I don’t have any children yet, but I enjoy spending time with my niece and nephew.

Parks and volunteerism have been an integral part of my life for many years. I started my professional career volunteering at the Oklahoma City Zoological Park & Botanical Garden during high school, dedicating 500 hours before I received my first job as a zookeeper. Working as a volunteer, with volunteers, and now as a volunteer coordinator has been a lot of fun.

When I’m not coordinating volunteers, I enjoy spending my free time engaging in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, and traveling. This goes back to my roots, as my grandfather helped build the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma as an employee with the Works Progress Administration. My father and I have spent countless hours exploring this area, along with many other scenic places.

 

What professional details would you like to share with readers?

I studied zoology at the University of Oklahoma, and I have worked at four zoos across the southern United States. My specialty was taking care of African savanna animals, but I also worked in the education department at the Dallas Zoo. In addition, I served six months in AmeriCorps, working at a national wildlife refuge in Oklahoma, and I was the volunteer coordinator at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. I am excited to bring this experience to Jones Park.

 

What brought you to Jones Park?

I was looking for a warmer climate with both natural and developed areas. After living in both urban and rural areas, I found that I enjoy working in a natural setting but living in a more developed area. This is because I enjoy protecting wildlife in its natural habitat, but I’m also a people person. Jones Park is the perfect combination of everything I like.

Because I have a special appreciation for volunteers, working as the volunteer coordinator at Jones Park is a great role for me. I’m delighted to have the privilege to work with such a great group of volunteers and staff.

I am also passionate about parks and recreation. I enjoy the work and believe in the value of providing accessible, high-quality greenspaces and recreational amenities to the public.

 

List a few fun facts about yourself.

My favorite colors are blue and green. I was once asked why these are my favorite colors. After thinking about it for a moment, I concluded that blue is the color of water, the most essential component of life, and green is the color of plants, a key source of oxygen, wildlife habitat, and the foundation of the food chain. Without blue and green, we would not have biodiversity – something that I have devoted my life to protecting.

I can communicate in Spanish at an intermediate level. In college, I was required to take two years of a foreign language, so I chose Spanish and fell in love with the language and Latin American culture. Because I lived in several Spanish-speaking communities, traveled to two Latin American countries, and have many Latino friends, I have had plenty of opportunities to practice over the years.

During college and between internships, I worked at a couple of upscale hotels in Oklahoma City. When celebrities came to town, they often stayed at our hotels. Some of the celebrities I’ve served include Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Reba McEntire, and Diane Keaton. If you ever want to hear about my interesting encounters with celebrities, just ask.

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11 May
By: Communications 0

CYPRESS LOG: Summer 2020 President’s Message

Who would have thought three or four months ago that we’d find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic? COVID-19 has severely impacted all our lives. Some of us are now working from home. Others have either lost their jobs or are working fewer hours. Those in essential jobs are now working around the clock in potentially high-risk environments to provide food in the stores, keep us healthy, and protect us. We’re all feeling the stress and agony of isolation, separation from our friends and loved ones, and concern for the future.

During the stay-home order, Jones Park has been an oasis for many of us and a place to commune with nature. It has provided a place where we can get some much-needed physical exercise and get out of the house while practicing social distancing. Whether walking or biking on the trails, observing nature, or bringing a blanket and lunch for a picnic, we’ve been able to escape the emotional hardships of confinement.

Our local officials tell us that, as we come through this pandemic, we’ll need to return to normal gradually. Although nothing is certain, we hope to resume our traditional summer programs. The park staff is already working on contingency program plans. This is obviously a challenging undertaking and requires a great deal of flexibility.

As usual, to make the summer program a success, we’ll need a lot of help and support from our Jesse Jones Park Volunteers. It’s even more critical this year as we’re trying to hit a moving target that we can’t even see. As the park staff develops plans for our summer programs and seeks volunteers, please join in wherever you can, and just as important, be as flexible as you can. We’re all in this together.

Hope to see you back in the park soon!

– Gary

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11 May
By: Communications 0

A Woman’s Place

By Katrina Yordy, Historical Program Coordinator

History books are full of examples of daring men leading battles, making discoveries, and starting revolutions, while women rarely played more than small, supporting roles.

Unfortunately, history books can only show a small snapshot of history. As a historical program coordinator, part of my job is piecing together and interpreting these stories to help create interest in our incredible history. Throughout my years of research, I’ve found plenty of tales recounting the bravery, resourcefulness, and intelligence of Texas women.

Pamelia Mann, famous for her conflicts with Gen. Sam Houston, was paramount in the first few years of the City of Houston’s development. Mann opened and ran the first hotel in Houston and became a colorful and well-loved socialite.

Frances Cox Henderson, a well-studied woman who lived in France for several years, helped run a successful law firm in a log cabin in the forest after meeting her husband and moving to Texas.

After her husband was captured and killed by Spanish/Mexican forces, Jane Long supported herself, a servant, and her child on Galveston Island. While this may not seem like much today, Galveston was still wild and undeveloped in 1820. Long hunted food with a rifle, picked mussels off the shore, protected herself and her small family from threats, and remained calm despite not knowing her husband’s fate.

In each of these cases, women beat the odds and carved out their own path in society. Unfortunately, these and many other triumphant tales are overshadowed by a legacy of strict social standards for women. Although women had worked as gardeners, soldiers, blacksmiths, and architects more than a thousand years before, early 19th-century society formalized women’s role in the home and insisted that women embrace the “feminine ideal.”

These standards encouraged high society young women to focus on fashion and embrace gentle hobbies like music, art, and needlework, which greatly limited their influence in politics and business. Although attitudes continued to evolve over the decades, the idea that women were frail and needed protection persisted long into the future.

Modern society has a better understanding of women’s resourcefulness. Women are scholars, leaders, sports stars, and pioneers in their fields. They are celebrated for their ability to take on challenges and encouraged to pursue their dreams.

Despite the incredible steps taken toward a more inclusive world, pockets of the feminine ideal still exist. As we head into the future, we must continue to grow and adapt our understanding of what it means to be a woman. Without this discussion, women may never shrug off the perceptions that limited them for so long.

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11 May
By: Communications 0

Beat the Heat at Jones Park

Jones Park is full of hidden nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for tree-lined trails, shady picnic areas, or swampy hideaways, this 312-acre park has it all. With summer fast approaching, we asked Jones Park staff members to give us the inside scoop on their favorite locations to stay cool. Check out their responses below.

Redbud Hill Homestead

Summer is a great time to visit the Redbud Hill Homestead. If you’ve only seen the homestead in the winter during Pioneer Day or Homestead Heritage Day, you’ll want to check it out during the warmer months. The trees have greened up, and less foot traffic means the area is popular with wildlife.

On clear mornings, you can catch glimpses of deer and birds feeding in the greenspace. These peaceful moments always remind me of how the pioneers might have felt before heading off to work in the fields or how they might have spent a quiet moment just enjoying nature.

Find this peaceful spot down the forested Homestead Trail. It’s open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m.

Scott Holloway
Park Ranger II

 

The Turtle Pond and Aquatics Lab

There’s nothing better than feeding turtles from the dock surrounded by cypress trees and buttonbush. If you visit in the morning when it’s still cool outside, you’ll be treated to rays of sunlight streaming through the treetops, creating an almost fairytale-like light display.

Jason Naivar
Education Program Coordinator and Naturalist

 

Central Greenspace and Picnic Area

The greenspace by the Nature Center is great for cooling off after a long day outdoors. There’s a water fountain nearby, and the area is open and breezy, with large trees for shade. It’s also a great place to gather and socialize. If there’s a big event going on at Jones Park, chances are that it’s happening in the greenspace.

If you visit in late spring or early summer, come in the afternoon around 5-6 p.m. It’s already beginning to cool off, but there are still hours of daylight left to enjoy.

John Carey
Education Programmer

 

Spring Creek

You can’t beat Spring Creek in the late afternoon. The breeze off the creek is refreshing after a hot day of work. Spend the evening relaxing on a bench overlooking the creek or fishing on the sandy banks.

David Jamar
Forester

 

Spring Creek Trail

The Spring Creek Trail is a great place to visit any time of day, but it’s especially enjoyable in the afternoon if you want to escape the heat. It’s shady and wide enough to allow for a slight breeze. The trail also features finely crushed granite that reminds me of the rocky trails that I grew up hiking in southwestern Oklahoma.

It’s also less traveled than some of the other trails, so you don’t feel crowded. As a bonus, the trail branches off at the end, so you have plenty of connecting trails to explore.

Brent Wilkins
Volunteer Coordinator

 

The Cypress Boardwalk Trail

The Cypress Boardwalk Trail is one of the park’s most diverse and scenic trails. A short walk will take you over cypress ponds and through riparian forests to the open beaches of Spring Creek.

You’ll also likely encounter different types of plants and animals, depending on the time of year you visit and the amount of rain the park receives. Turtles fill the cypress ponds during the rainy season, and a variety of birds inhabit the forest year-round.

Visit the trail in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Bring binoculars, a camera, water, and bug spray.

Matt Abernathy
Assistant Director

For more information about Jones Park, visit https://www.hcp4.net/parks/jjp/about/.

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