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Biodiversity Blog


Get involved! Outreach opportunities in biodiversity

Undergrad Abby Jones at the Capital Area Junior Master Naturalists October event.

Field stations like Brackenridge Field Lab and natural history collections like the Biodiversity Collections fulfill many roles in the service of biodiversity. One such role is to engage in outreach to the general public to raise awareness, and to reach students who might not otherwise consider a study path or career in the natural sciences.

If you are intersted in learning more about these outreach events and organizations, both within UT and the larger Austin community, here is just a starting list. Visiting websites for many of these organizations will reveal other resources. And of course, by attending any events hosted by these groups, you will also learn about other organizations and outreach events.



Explore UT: As of this writing, Explore UT is revamping the outreach experience, but much of the online content from 2021 is available for the public by starting here. This event has allowed the public to see what researchers work on, from focuses in the Humanities, to conservation, to tours of the Texas Memorial Museum. Topics are broad, informative, and approachable.

Science Under the Stars: This monthly event is free and hosted by graduate students in the Department of Integrative Biology. Events occur during the long semesters at the Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL). These are all-ages evening events that happen outdoors (thus the name!). A short tour of the field lab preceeds the talks, of which always have fascinating and infomative focuses, from bats to coral bleaching, to beer yeast and soil microbes.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Not to be missed are the many events from our newest field station in our growing network of Texas field stations. The beautiful public gardens are a place to learn about native plants, and the Center's native plant sales are good ways to bring some of these plants home for your own yard. They also have classes on plants and pollinators, for two examples, as well as more health-focused activities like yoga which allow attendees to be in the healthy presence of nature.

Office of Sustainability: Known simply as "Sustainability," they work with numerous campus partners for the implementation of sustainability practices as well as research. One general public resource is their webpage, "Walking Waller Creek." This is an excellent walking guide to areas many are not aware of in Austin. Here, you can get outside, explore examples of environment-aware architecture, rainwater collection, native landscaping, and of course, Waller Creek itself.

Austin Community:

Barton Springs University: BSU provides year-round educational events and classroom presentations. The events target a variety of groups, such as high school students, college students, then the general public at large. Events are hands-on or lecture-style. Some focus on training on topics such as Texas water science, public policy, and sustainable living.

The Capital Area Master Naturalists: CAMN focuses on volunteers for training, outreach and education in the natural sciences of the Austin community. For one example of a recent event, the Entomology Collection hosted a table on October 15 at the Capital Area Junior Master Naturalists. Families and children from the Austin area had the chance to learn about birds and insects with a butterfly and moth drawer, a "Halloween" drawer, and a drawer full of native Texas bees.

Save Our Springs Alliance: SOS works to protect the Edwards Aqufier, which is not only a crucial water source for Central Texas, but also is the home to many endangered species such as the Texas Blind Salamander (Typhlomolge rathbuni) and the Comal Springs Riffle Beetle (Heterelmis comalensis). They work closely with the Barton Springs University for public outreach and teaching.

Travis Audubon Society: This organization protects native habitat for birds, with an understanding that conservation of wildlife and promotion of ecological balance supports healthy communities. Some of their events are lunch series with researchers, "Birdathons," Family Nature Days, group birding opportunities, classes and art contests.

TreeFolks: This organization is largely volunteer-driven, with people planting trees to teach and learn about their importance in urbans spaces. This organization holds educational events with a focus on hands-on activities, as well as running the Urban Forest Stewards Program.


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