Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute

Rating: 4.88 stars   17 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Environment

Location: PO Box 905 Fort Davis TX 79734 USA

Mission: The mission of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI) is to promote public awareness, appreciation, and concern for the natural diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert region through research and education programs. The CDRI is an independent nonprofit organization established in 1973 by a number of concerned professionals. The mission of the CDRI is accomplished through scientific research; the publication and dissemination of literature; films; educational activities; and the development of a visitors' center with exhibits near Fort Davis, Texas. CDRI headquarters are located on 507 acres of desert grassland and igneous rock outcrops south of Fort Davis. The property is open to the public daily and features an extensive arboretum, cacti and succulent greenhouse, a visitors' center, and over two miles of self-guided hiking trails.

2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

During 2010, we not only provided access to the preserve, but also provided staff, facilities, and vehicles for transport for the CDRI's: teacher workshop; "Top-of-Texas" series; and birding festival. The first two events included guided hikes up Mt. Livermore with interpretation. The birding festival included a hummingbird banding demonstration and a guided birding hike. In all of these instances, the events were organized and hosted by the CDRI, and we were very proud to be associated with them. The CDRI does a great job of providing opportunities for individuals to gain an appreciation for nature, especially that associated with the Chihuahuan Desert, and to be educated about same. Such is certainly consistent with the mission of The Nature Conservancy.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way that they reach out in the interest of fostering an appreciation for the beauty, landscape variety, and biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert, to both local and international visitors.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

learning more about the Chihuahuan Desert ecology via their events and programs.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

everybody from the executive director to the volunteers, all of whom are friendly and competent.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

purchase more land in the Chihuahuan Desert and establish satellite offices.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Rating: 4 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been a member of CDRI since my college days in the early 1970's. Over the years I have seen many changes and a lot of growth of both the Institute and the land site. My husband and I have both been employees at CDRI....it is truly the most inspiring work environment either of us has ever had. We now both volunteer throughout the year and only wish we had more time to offer. Being a CDRI volunteer is very rewarding, and we feel that we are in some small way helping to preserve the desert environment we so love.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

local people's interest in appreciating and wanting to preserve the desert environment.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

it is local, easy to access, and results are eaily seen.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-5-01

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

My wife and I collect and study desert plants as a hobby. We have been visiting CDRI for a number of years. Each visit we find new additions to the exhibits as well as the plant collection. We have joined several field trips put on by CDRI. One of the most unusual was a night hike down the canyon where we saw desert fauna that you normally don't see during the day. Mark "the gardener" and the other staff have wealth on knowledge about about desert plants which we really like.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

gaining knowledge about the Chihuahuan desert flora, fauna, geology and history.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-6-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

A few months after my husband passed away I was looking for something to do. My background had been with the National Audubon Society where I was Director of two of their Audubon Centers. CDRI was a great fit for my previous work and my natural history interests. When I approached the Executive Director about possibly volunteering she was enthusiastic. Since that time I have spent time greeting visitors, editing newsletters, working in the gift shop, leading field trips, mopping floors, cleaning restrooms, weeding in the Botanical Garden. Whatever needs to be done. I am now privileged to be on the CDRI Board.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

completion of the MAP Assessment.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-6-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I first came to CDRI as a frequent visitor, to hike, attend functions, and to learn more about the wonderful flora, fauna and geology of the Chihuahuan Desert. I later joined the board of directors and have watched with pride as the quality and number of CDRI's exhibits, seminars, and educational programs for school children, teachers and general public have improved and increased in scope and numbers served, with new an innovative programs that really teach good science and grab the interest. Our gardens and trails continue to improve and are great draws for hikers, general visitors and all who are interested learning about the area's diverse plants, wildlife and geology. The organization has developed ties with the scientific community in Mexico, to the benefit of both countries, and has worked with The National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and other state and national conservation and scientific not for profit organizations on a wide range of science projects through the years. The organization expands and continues to improve annually, thanks in great part to a really good Director and staff and dedicated volunteers. CDRI has become an important part of the local community AND remains engaged in the greater scientific community, and we have great plans for the future.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the amount I've learned about the native flora and fauna and geology. The new geology exhibit is great! I love to stroll the gardens each time I visit....there's always something new to see.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

increase our endowment base and clone the Director--we need two of her.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

watching dreams become reality, watching the growth in the programs, the outreach, the budget, the contributions to local and scientific communities. This organization is doing good things and making a difference. Science is accessible to us all

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

fantastic--knowledgeable, pleasant, and good at what they do.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

teach enough people what they need to know to change the world for the better. It could also set aside a little of that money for the new building it needs to provide classrooms, library, offices and storage.

Ways to make it better...

I had more money and time to donate to this really excellent organization.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

fundraising in this economy, particularly for a capital campaign

One thing I'd also say is that...

if you haven't been to the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, it's worth a trip. Also check out the excellent website: www.cdri.org

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

I am the President of Central Texas Trail Tamers (CTTT), a central Texas based volunteer organization that builds and maintains trails. I am also a docent and volunteer at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and a member of the Capital Area Master Naturalist. I am organizing a CTTT work trip to CDRI (11-22 thru 11-26), to work with CDRI and other area volunteers, building a trail from the canyon trailhead to the top of the overlook area. Although this is the first actual work I will have performed at CDRI, I have been a member of and visitor to CDRI for the last couple of years. Based on my other volunteer activities over the last 10 - 15 years, I have been very impressed with not only the displays and gardens filled with area native plants, but also the knowledge and cooperative attitude of the staff at CDRI. In conclusion, I have been fortunate enough to visit several native plant and botanical gardens in the U.S. and U.K., including the Kew Gardens. Although I still consider myself a novice, in my opinion, CDRI ranks highly in must places to visit, right up there with the "big boys".

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Dealing with the motivated, very knowledgeable staff, from the gardener to the volunteer coordinator to the volunteers who staff the gift store and the administration building.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

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Rating: 4 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

Having Kelly Bryan give a hummingbird banding demonstration is one of many activities I admire about CDRI. They are mindful of ALL age groups and have plenty of programs to participate in. CDRI organizes excellent lectures at Sul Ross for older people in the community and little camps and hikes for the younger people. CDRI isn't just a place for interests in plants and animals but is a place for historians and geologists as well! We are quite lucky to have this place in our area!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

anyone I've talked to about CDRI activities. People really enjoy the programs and lectures provided!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

We have visited CDRI many times; it is special to us because we have two sons who worked there while attending SRU. We've watched it grow since the 80's and especially enjoy the Cactus Greenhouse and the peace and beauty of the Pollinator Garden. Our grandkids enjoyed their week at day camp for the first time this year; they learned so much about the things that live and grow in the desert - plants and animals. Being "city kids", this was a really good experience for them and they are already talking about attending next year.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing the growth and development in the various areas; the things that our sons learned during their times working their, and the wealth of information our grandkids "soaked up" during their week their.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Having access to so much information about the Chihuahuan Desert and being able to see things firsthand.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

All of the people are knowledgeable and go out of their way to be helpful in any way that they can

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Continue to expand the Greenhouse!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

I take students to the annual Earth Rocks festival which is a fun, educational experience for our elementary students in the area. The activities all focus on Earth Science which is typically a tough concept for students to grasp without these hands-on activities provided free of charge by the CDRI.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my classroom with my students.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wouldn't.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

They are very friendly and helpful!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

knowledgable, friendly and helpful.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Enlarge its meeting room, visitor center, and store.

Ways to make it better...

I could have stayed longer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

money

One thing I'd also say is that...

I appreciate them doing the Earth Rocks Festival every year. I think it contributes to our great TAKS scores.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

Although we live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we love the Texas southwest, and particularly the Big Bend region, which we have visited about 20 times during the past 30 years. More recently, we've found it convenient to stay at the "White House" in Alpine, and during those stays we have visited and explored the CDRI. In between visits, we have greatly enjoyed the CDRI newsletters, which illustrate the enormous diversity of its scientific and nature programs, including the trapping of feral hogs, the banding of hummingbirds, and the well illustrated nature trails. The programs seem to be most suitable for families and people of all ages. We have enjoyed chatting with other visitors, who seem just as enthusiastic as we are about the work of the CDRI.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The interest and dedication of the staff.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007-4-01

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