Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA Stone Fort Museum receives funding for demonstration garden, workshops

October 4, 2010 - Public Affairs

The Stone Fort Museum at Stephen F. Austin State University has received funding for two upcoming projects: the Camino Real de los Tejas Demonstration Garden and Wayside Exhibit, and the Camino Real Education Workshop Series.

The projects will support education and interpretation of the National Historic Trail and are funded by the National Trails Intermountain Region of the National Park Service. These grants are funded through the Challenge Cost Share Program.

The Camino Real Demonstration Garden and Wayside Exhibit will interpret the native and introduced vegetation utilized by travelers along the Camino Real and incorporated into their communities in the Northern Borderlands of East Texas, according to Carolyn Spears, Stone Fort Museum curator.

"Installed on the grounds in front of the museum, the demonstration garden will enrich the visitors' experience and provide students and scholars alike a living laboratory and research tool on domestic and native vegetation associated with the trail," Spears said.

The demonstration garden is an ongoing project of the Stone Fort Museum and the Center for Regional Heritage Research. In 2008-2009, the center provided support for research and literature review resulting in a plant database for use in garden interpretation.

"The database developed by Arika Kulhavy, a former graduate research assistant at the museum, will serve as supporting documentation for garden planning and will be available to the public in an online format," Spears explained.

When complete, the garden will further the museum's mission of interpreting the early history of the Spanish Borderland region and complement environmental education programs offered by SFA Gardens and the historic landscape visible at sites such as the Durst-Taylor Museum in Nacogdoches.

In 2008 and 2009, the museum's NPS-funded Heritage Education Project offered workshops focused on the historic landscape and trail interpretation. The grant for 2010-2011 will fund two regional workshops in Louisiana and Texas and will further disseminate current research on El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail.

Planned for spring and summer 2011, the workshops will provide a broader understanding of the natural and cultural history of the trail to those interested in becoming more involved in trail projects, Spears said.

"Participants have the opportunity to learn from experienced 'rut nuts' and travel as a group to a remnant of the trail," she said. "Just as the demonstration garden will provide the authentic experience needed to understand the resources available to those who first traveled to eastern Texas, the workshop will provide participants with a trip into the past."

For more information on either of these projects, contact museum staff at (936) 468-2408, or e-mail stonefort@sfasu.edu.