If you enjoy being one with nature, there is a hidden gem just outside of Sinton.
The Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation was established 64 years ago, and today it is still doing what it set out to do, provide a wildlife refuge in San Patricio County.
Providing education opportunities has been the mission of the Welder Wildlife Foundation since its inception in 1954.
The Welder Wildlife Foundation was established on 7,800 acres of prime wildlife habitat adjacent to the Aransas River in northern San Patricio County.
“The Foundation has been in existence since 1954. Our main goal is to provide wildlife and research education opportunities for students, professors, and other people who are interested in wildlife,” said Welder Wildlife Foundation Director Dr. Terry Blankenship.
The programs of the foundation include wildlife research, conservation education, outreach, and management of the natural habitats on its property.
“We try and provide education to school groups. We have school groups from Corpus, San Antonio, and Houston. Our main goal is to try and get the kids out in the field and provide them with opportunities to not only see some animals, but also see how they live and what they require to live,” said Blankenship.
The education program was initiated in 1957, and today more than 5,000 people visit the refuge each year, including 100-150 junior and senior high school groups, 25-35 college groups, and various special groups.
“The research we do here is we try and provide research that the landowners can apply to their property. Whether it’s burning, whether it’s deer management, or whatever type of program they are interested in, we can hopefully provide some research that will benefit them and help with the management of their property,” said Blankenship.
Most all of the educational programs are free. If the school groups are going to spend the night, then there is a small charge for using some of the facilities.
The foundation complex includes administrative offices, library, museum, student study, lecture hall, laboratories, student dormitory, outdoor rotunda, five residences, and a bunkhouse for housing overnight groups. All buildings conform to the Mediterranean style selected by the original trustees and directors.
The foundation’s museum and collections feature 1,400 species of flowering plants, 430 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 55 species of mammals. The Quillin egg collection, dedicated in 1973, contains 10,000 eggs representing 400 species of birds.
The visitor’s museum contains the only three-dimensional murals done by Frances Lee Jaques, originator of the technique. The newest addition to the museum is a collection of 305 taxidermy mounts of birds of North America and offshore islands.
The WWF Library contains approximately 24,000 individual books, including 60 serial journals that are kept current, and many of which date back to original volumes.
More information visit; welderwildlife.org.