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Native American Seed, George Cates – Aug 28

August 28 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Adult and child, sitting outdoors

August 28, 2023 @ 6:30 pm 8:00 pm

Hill Country Chapter NPSOT Chapter Meeting

George Cates was born and raised in North Texas (Sherman). As a kid he enjoyed competitive sports, especially soccer, and spending the summers on his grandparent’s small ranch in Manchaca, TX. There, he developed his love of and respect for nature, through fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring with his cousins. When back in the city, he would dig holes in the yard and build dams in the street gutters to try and make a creek to play in like “the one at the ranch”. He’d catch crawdads in the bar ditches by the railroad tracks and beg his dad to take him fishing at the lake. After his grandparents passed, the family sold the land, and he was devastated. To cope, he committed himself to understanding the intricacies of land ownership and stewardship and to finding a career path that would ensure fewer children would have to experience that feeling of loss.

He began interning for Native American Seed in 2002 and was hired full time at the end of 2007 after graduating from Austin College in 2006 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. He has led many NAS prairie restorations, managed seed production on the farm in Junction, TX and managed harvest operations across the many ecoregions of Texas. He has been instrumental in the R&D of many new species to NAS offerings, as well seed mixtures to meet challenges landowners face. George also enjoys public outreach, giving dozens of speaking engagements a year.

George currently manages NAS consulting, land management, and native landscaping services. He still chips in as needed with farming and production, harvesting, and seed processing operations. His latest endeavors include greenhouse production of rare hand collections and hard to propagate native species to add more diversity to NAS offerings. He has a remarkable capacity for looking at problems as “challenges” to be met, and the kind of willingness to learn that is a priceless asset. He loves to teach and share what he has learned through his journey, especially to his son Fisher and the next generation of land stewards.

Presentation:

Design for Success with Native Seed: Learn how to approach a native planting project from initial planning, to implementation, to maintenance and management. Work with the cycles of nature to ensure beautiful diversity and an ecological legacy with every project. Plant native, life depends on it.

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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason