We are proud to present this guest post by the team at the Edwards Aquifer Authority Education Outreach Center (EAAEOC) about how families and school field trips can visit and learn about the Edwards Aquifer, water conservation, and native plants and animals.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority Education Outreach Center (EAAEOC) is an education center on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone located in Morgan’s Wonderland Camp. Featuring interactive exhibits that showcase careers in STEM and the biology and global context of the aquifer, the EOC is a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about this important natural resource that provides water to the entirety of San Antonio and beyond.
Learn About the Edwards Aquifer
Water is our most important natural resource. Not only is the human body more than 50 percent water, but all life requires it, even the most resilient bacteria. All human civilizations have been tied to water, and even today water availability is a vital component of urban planning. Many cities rely on importing water from various outside sources.
Here in San Antonio, we’re fortunate to have a local water source—right under our feet. The Edwards Aquifer is a large supply of groundwater that is up to 2,000 feet underground (deeper than the Empire State Building is tall) and extends from Uvalde to San Marcos and north into the Hill Country. This aquifer supplies water to the entirety of San Antonio, and more than 2 million people.
The EAAEOC (Edwards Aquifer Authority Education and Outreach Center) exists to educate our community about this precious natural resource. The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) manages, enhances, and protects the aquifer. But responsibility for its protection doesn’t just lie with the EAA, it lies with all of us who rely on this water.
Through interactive and engaging exhibits and displays, the EOC encourages the community to take an interest in the quality of their water and its protection. Our exhibits introduce the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the biology of the Edwards Aquifer, and the global context of the aquifer.
Meet The Edwards Aquifer Authority
We are researchers, land managers, educators, and stewards each of us committed to managing, enhancing, and protecting the Edwards Aquifer for eight counties, which include all of Uvalde, Medina, and Bexar counties as well as parts of Atascosa, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Comal, and Hays counties.
Our exhibits introduce individuals that make up the EAA through videos and wall displays, with special emphasis on showcasing our employees in the field. Thus, students not only see the faces behind the EAA, but also are able to picture themselves in a career in STEM.
San Antonio’s flora and fauna rely on water from the Edwards Aquifer, and some actually inhabit the aquifer. The EAAEOC showcases this flora and fauna. Our wildlife viewing area gives visitors a chance to spot some of the 60 bird species that have been recorded in the area. Our garden is filled with native plants—see if you can spot our rainwater irrigation system! And lastly, our aquariums feature 10 different native species. Excitingly, we just received our permit for the Texas Blind Salamander, an endangered species not many people get to see, as it lives deep in the aquifer.
In addition to native flora and fauna, the EOC has examples of non-native fish and non-native plants. By comparing them side-by-side, you can spot the adaptations that make native life more suited to San Antonio’s habitat.
Understand the Global Context
Nothing in nature exists independently. Every component of the ecosystem is necessarily connected to all the others. The water cycle is one of the most important examples of this interconnectedness. The earth’s finite supply of water is continually cycled. From rain to plants and animals to evaporation and again to rain. The EAAEOC features a cross section of the Edwards Aquifer which traces the path of water into the aquifer and then up wells and finally back into the atmosphere as rain. Visitors can even make their own cloud with our Cloud Caster!
The EOC Serves
The EOC is free of charge and open to anyone. Individuals and families can come on self-guided tours—be sure to ask for our scavenger hunt! We also offer field trips for camps and schools. The field trip includes a presentation and a hands-on activity. In the first few months since our grand opening in April, we hosted over 1,000 visitors, and look forward to greeting many more.
The Field Research Park (FRP)
Adjacent to the EOC is the Field Research Park. A new property of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, we are running long-term research projects which can give us data over the decades on soil retention, moisture retention and land management. All our knowledge of the Edwards Aquifer first came from researchers, so it is fitting that research is ongoing in our own backyard.
Morgan’s Wonderland Camp
The EOC is located on the grounds of Morgan’s Wonderland Camp (MWC), a place that was built and designed specifically to be accessible to all ages and abilities. The camp includes everything from a cavalry range, climbing walls, a zip line, and horseback riding. For more information about MWC, please visit morganswonderlandcamp.com.
Come Visit the EAAEOC!
The EOC is a space where the entire San Antonio community can learn about the Edwards Aquifer and its related ecology. A lot of care and attention went into the planning of each exhibit, and we are so excited to receive every visitor. After visiting the EOC, you and your students will walk away with a deeper understanding of the importance of the aquifer in a local and global sense, of the biology of the aquifer, and of the flora and fauna that rely on the aquifer’s water.
FAQs about the Edwards Aquifer Authority Education Outreach Center
Who can come to the EAAEOC?
- Everyone! Come for a self-guided tour on your own, with your family or schedule a field trip for your classroom.
What kind of things can I do at the EAAEOC?
- We have exhibits, aquariums, a Cloud Caster, a wildlife viewing area, and more.
- Be sure to ask to do our scavenger hunt activity!
How do I book/schedule?
- Click “Schedule a Visit” on our website, eaaeoc.org.
- Please note, for guided school groups, be sure to schedule at least one week in advance.
How much is a visit/field trip?
When is the EAAEOC open?
- Monday-Friday 8-5
Charter Moms Chats
Watch Sarah Valdez, EAAEOC Manager and Senior STEAM/Outreach Educator for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, and Ann-Margaret Gonzalez, Senior Public Affairs Administrator for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on August 17, 2022 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Sarah Valdez, EAAEOC Manager and Senior STEAM/Outreach Educator for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, is a leader in environmental science education. She is responsible for the content programming and scheduling at the Education Outreach Center. Her team outreaches to schools among the 2-million-plus population within San Antonio’s segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
Sarah Valdez is not only bilingual, but she also translates complex STEM topics of hydrology, geology, and water chemistry into engaging presentations for upper elementary students. She has taught for more than 20 years in classrooms, nature centers, and museums. Her education incudes a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Southwest Texas State University and a Master of Education from Texas State University.
Ann-Margaret Gonzalez, Senior Public Affairs Administrator for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, serves as the primary contact for media relations, from newspapers to televised coverage. She works with reporters throughout the EAA jurisdiction to educate the public on current events at the Edwards Aquifer Authority. She has served on the EAA’s Communications and Development team for over seven years and managed the agency’s social media platforms, while also boosting its recognition by providing a variety of content to further educate people on how the EAA manages, enhances, and protects the Edwards Aquifer.
Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, with a Public Relations concentration, and a Master of Arts in Communications from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Read More About Education and Nature
- “Nature-Based Education Helps Students Grow After the Pandemic,” Amanda McMickle, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 15, 2021
- “Water Purification at Confluence Park With the San Antonio River Foundation’s Nature of Art Education Series,” Sara Ramirez, San Antonio Charter Moms, December 7, 2020
- “Bird BINGO with the Witte Museum,” Colleen Ferguson and Helen Holdsworth, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 21, 2020
- “Explore San Antonio’s Greenway Trails System,” Brandon Ross, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 17, 2020
- “Stay Green at Home,” Wendy Bradley, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 11, 2020
- “Appreciating the Blue Hole, the Source of the San Antonio River,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 3, 2018