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The Mermaid Society of San Marcos is bringing environmental awareness to area libraries.
Photo provided by Mermaid Society of San Marcos

Mermaid Society partners with TXST University to aid eco-guardianship program

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Mermaid Society of San Marcos–a group that uses the magic of costume to teach local children about endangered species in the rivers and springs and how to be good stewards of the city’s natural resources–recently entered into a strategic partnership with Texas State University’s McCoy College of Business in which a student led fundraising campaign produced $1,500 in order to support the group’s Eco-guardianship programming.

These funds have gotten the mermaids closer to the goal of $3,000, but Mermaid Society Executive Director July Holbrook said they hope to raise the additional funds by the summer.

“Jake Nobel reached out to me and he was a leader of an entrepreneurial student group with the McCoy Business School,” Holbrook said. “They were doing an end of the year project on fundraising and they had chosen us as their nonprofit to help raise money.”

Holbrook said the Eco-Guardianship programming began in 2017 with community visits teaching children how to be responsible river guardians. She stressed that she doesn’t want people to be confused about what the Mermaid Society does, noting for example that the youth programming is the bread and butter of it, and it started with the Mermaid Chats with Mermaid Maya.

“She talks to the children about how they can be a superhero like she is to help protect this beautiful river,” Holbrook said, adding that the lessons can range from simple things like teaching kids not to let dogs go potty next to the river to lessons on microtrash and its impact on aquatic life. “She talks to them about her friends: Sally [the Blind Salamander], Sammy [the Blind Salamander], Wendy [Wild Rice], Frankie the Fountain Darter and George Gambusia. … It’s been really fascinating to see how children respond to mermaids delivering the message as opposed to Johnny with the clipboard.”

Holbrook said the fundraising will go to purchasing mascots for the Eco-guardianship Program, which will all be personified versions of local endangered species. Wendy Texana Wild Rice will have long, flowing rice-grass hair and will incorporate stereotypical Texas clothing. Sammy the San Marcos Blind Salamander will have a “cool swagger” and be wearing sunglasses. According to Holbrook, the third mascot– Sally the San Marcos Blind Salamander–is in the process of a name change, but she will be “sassy” and a walking embodiment of all things San Marcos.

“That’s going to be really exciting for the kids to see and be a part of,” Holbrook said. “Then in addition to that, just having them available to be in the community at events.”

She said that the program expanded to include an Eco-Guardianship book program, which involves getting books in the hands of children that teach the same environmentally conscious messages. In September, she said the program was expanded from three local libraries–the Wimberley, San Marcos and Martindale libraries–to all elementary schools and kindergartens within San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District.

“Each school has a dedicated section within their library … [with] books on eco-education,” Holbrook said, adding that the book program is ongoing and a donation can include money to purchase the books or the actual book from a curated list that will soon be available on amazon. “We used amazon because it’s just simple—a click and a purchase and it’s here in a couple of days. We also encourage people to purchase from their local bookstore if they have one.”

Holbrook said upcoming this year she will be promoting a Birthday Book Bash, in which you can make a wishlist of the five books you would like donated to the Eco-guardianship Book Program instead of traditional gifts.

Holbrook said if you’d like to donate a book, then call her at 512-825-2819 or email july@mermaidsocietysmtx. com to arrange pickup. If you’d like to donate money to the book program go to mermaidsocietysmtx. com/eco-guardianbookprogram. If you would like to donate to the Eco-Guardianship mascots to help the mermaids reach the additional $1,500 needed, go to mermaidsocietysmtx. com/youth-programming.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666