The Sibley Nature Center is first and foremost a place for people to walk and to observe our native landscape. To learn what you might see along the trail, please check out our Virtual Trails, listed on the left side of this page, below the index to the sections of the website. All school groups planning on visiting are required to view the latest photoessay and any previous one of the same month as their visit.
Hours of Operation
The Sibley Nature Center is open to the public 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, thanks to the wonderful volunteers from the Llano Estacado Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists! Special programming occurs on Saturday; check the Calendar for upcoming events and activities.
Contact the Center
The Sibley Nature Center relies on a wonderful group of volunteers for our many programs and operations. In addition to those integral volunteers, the staff of the center is available to answer questions and work with you to schedule programming.
- Autumn E. Vest, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Galle, Director of Operations, email@example.com
- Michael Nickell, Museum Scientist, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sibley Nature Center is a 5,200 square foot building contains four major rooms.
In the Llano Estacado Room are displays and activities about the 8 major habitats of the region.
In the 70 seat auditorium several cooperative groups (the Gem and Mineral Society, the Midland Archaeological Society, the Llano Estacado chapter of the Master Naturalists, and the Midland Naturalists) provide programs throughout the year. The staff of the Sibley Nature Center also use it for part of a groups visit. Other groups may rent it for $50 for a half day, and $75 for a full day.
The Sibley Nature Center celebrated the construction a million dollar expansion project on May 21-22, 2010. The improvements include an outdoor teaching pavilion complete with a fire circle for night programs, an acequia water feature, a wildlife feeding station, a new room to be added to the existing building to view the feeding area, new trail shelters, a new entry feature – the “Icons of the Llano Estacado” with paintings by Michael Nickell – new interpretive signage along the trail, new habitat gardens, refurbishing of the existing Sibley pond, new trails, and a new parking lot. Board member Wallace Craig created a slide show of the highlights from the celebration.
In the collections room are a plethora of resources:
- a 1,000+ volume natural history library,
- the Midland Archaeological Societys 400 volume library,
- the Frances Williams Memorial Bird Library,
- an insect collection,
- a bone collection,
- the Midland County Herbarium,
- the beginnings of a Hispanic cultural library,
- the beginnings of a West Texas Historical library,
- vertical files of magazine and scholarly journal articles,
- a collection of West Texas county soil maps, and
- mounted specimens.
The entry room contains a gift shop (focusing on books about West Texas), displays about the trails, displays on local and regional civic groups that celebrate the out of doors, and rotating displays.
Since 1986 over 5,500 programs to over 350,000 people have been presented to groups throughout the southern Llano Estacado and beyond (from Lajitas to Ozona to Abilene to Amarillo to Carlsbad, New Mexico.) Call 432.684.6827 to schedule a program.
All programs are fee-based, with a dollar a person charge. This charge can be negotiated or waived on a case to case basis. Donations of books with subjects specific to the region, educational materials and supplies, and scientific equipment are also often considered in lieu of monetary payment.
We teach people about our home, the Llano Estacado region of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. We encourage people to become knowledgeable about the regions plants, animals, and history. Knowledge of ones home leads to the love of ones home and love of ones home is the most basic building block of patriotism.
To learn in depth about the teaching style you will encounter at the Sibley Nature Center, please read this essay (On becoming llaneros) (PDF document) by Shelley Wright produced for a master's psychology course.
The following essays offer a sampling of what occurs at the Center.
The job description of a naturalist-interpreter at a nature center is to serve as a facilitator for people to learn about their surrounding natural world. A duty of the naturalist-interpreter is to provide factual information.
- The role of anecdotal evidence
- Are snakes evil?
- snout butterfly
- couchs spadefoot
- Harvester ants
- Value of studying the natural world
- Dung beetles
Nature centers are places for people to enjoy the out-of-doors. Every walk along the trail at the Sibley Nature Center will be different.
- may walk
- summer pasture hike
- dragonfly watching
- when it rains the Llano Estacado explodes with life
- fall walk
- birds in the snow
- birds tails
A guided visit to the Sibley Nature Center is unpredictable. As a group moves along the trail, opportunities will sometimes arise that take a visit down an unplanned direction.
The following 5th grade TEKS objectives provide the framework for our programs.
- 5.9A Comparing adaptive characteristics of species
- 5.9B Analyzing adaptive characteristics that result in an organisms unique niche
- 5.9C Predicting adaptive characteristics for survival
- 5.10A Identifying traits inherited from parents (physical and behavioral)
- 5.10B Identifying learned traits that result from the influence of the environment
Index of Animal & Plant Behavior & Adaptation Essays
The essays on the Sibley Nature Center Website are chock-full of ways that our local animals behave, and of how plants and animals have adapted to our harsh environment. Students can use the index to understand the major concepts of behavior and adaptation.
This does not mean that we only give programs to 5th graders! The Llano Estacado has a very harsh environment. We endure temperatures ranging from 116F to 20F, and sometimes have straight-line winds over 70 miles an hour as well as tornadoes. In some years we receive less than 6 inches of rain, while once every 40 years we receive over 30 inches of rain. The stories of adaptation by plants, animals, and humans to these incredible extremes are utterly fascinating.
In our historical programs we discuss four major groups of people and their adaptations to the rugged environment.
- The Jumano, Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians
- The Conquistador, Cibolero, and Comanchero visitors from northern Mexico and northern New Mexico
- The ranchers and farmers that settled the region from the 1880s to the 1920s
- The oilfield society of the late 1920s to 1960.
Our programming always include history and ecology. Our focus for the years 2006 to 2014 is as follows:
- Sanddunes Summer 2006-Spring 2007
- Playas Summer 2007-Spring 2008
- Alkali - Summer 2008-Spring 2009
- Draws Summer 2009-Spring 2010
- Prairie to Mesquite Brushland Summer 2010-Spring 2011
- The Breaks and Canyons Summer 2011-Spring 2012
- Shortgrass Plains and Chihuahuan Scrub - Summer 2012-Spring 2013
- Human Created Environments of the Llano Estacado - Summer 2013-Spring 2014
To learn about each of these habitats at any time, each habitat home page linked above contains a list of Essays on the website which are relevant to that habitat. Some of these essays also have a photoessay in the Recommended Daytrips section of the website.
Inservices for Teachers
Oversight of the Sibley Nature Center is the responsibility of the Center's Board of Directors, a volunteer group. The current listing of board members is available here.