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.
Programs: Nature center/gardens/public outreach program: cdri operates from a 507 acre site named the chihuahuan desert nature center. The nature center contains a wide range of features including: i) a 20 acre botanical and pollinator garden, ii) a cactus house, iii) over 5 miles of trails including a canyon with a year round spring and pools and an overlook trail featuring one of three geologic exhibits at the nature center, iv) a mining exhibit and v) a visitor center with a well merchandised gift shop. Cdri offers annual memberships of varying levels and benefits to nearly 500 members and host over 6,000 visitors annually to its site. We employ a full time gardener, a part time site manager, and persons to manage the gift shop as well as to staff the reception desk of the visitors center. Cdri also offers adult programs consistent with its mission of appreciation, awareness and concern for the natural diversity of the chihuahuan desert region. Certain events, principally an annual fund raiser bbq, are delivered in an attempt to raise funds in support of the organizations operating costs.
education program: cdri has two major tenets to its mission, education and research. The educational focus centers on programs for school aged children in a served market of schools within an approximate distance of 100 or so miles from the nature center. Cdri hosts a spring program for area 2nd and 3rd graders and a fall program for area 5th graders. All programs are designed to comply with tx essential knowledge & skills (teks) tests. In addition to the two major site based programs, throughou
research and conservation program: the other major tenet of cdris mission is research and both education and research are linked to conservation and sustainable practices. Cdri actively and overtly promotes the use of the nature center site in furtherance of research initiatives. Cdri allocates a portion of its site based costs to this expense classification.
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.
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 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".
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!