South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center began with formation of the Corpus Christi Botanical Society in 1983, followed in 1987 by opening a preliminary Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens, a one-acre “cottage garden” and cactus-lined nature trail.  Its permanent location—182 acres of leased city parkland at 8545 S. Staples—opened in 1996, followed by a name change to Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens & Nature Center, and finally South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center—reflecting its impact, service area, and blend of floral gardens,  natural wetlands, native habitat, resident exotic parrot collection and Resident Reptile exhibit.  The 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation is governed by a Board of Directors.  Open daily, 9 am to 6 pm, it offers a year-round calendar of classes and events, including Corpus Christi’s five-day “Birdiest Festival in America.”


Since 1996, South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center has developed $3.1 million in assets/improvements (costs at time of construction)—including a 2000 square-foot Visitors Center, 2000 square-foot Education Station, 1000 square-foot Administration Building, and 500 square-foot Facilities Maintenance Office. Gardens and floral exhibits include Orchid and Bromeliad Conservatories; Butterfly House; Rose Garden and Pavilion; Plumeria, Sensory, Arid, Hummingbird, Tropical, and EarthKind Demo Gardens; plus Children’s Play Area, including Monkey Mansion Treehouse.  The “Gateway Project,” begun in 2017 with road/parking reconstruction, concluded in 2019 with extensive Visitors Center entrance improvements featuring gazebo, fountain, and plaza area.   Other development includes upper and lower native habitat trails, wetland boardwalk with overlook, Palapa Grande, and Birding Tower on two wetland estuaries.  The $3.1 million asset figure does NOT include values of its extensive and notable orchid, plumeria, bromeliad, parrot and reptile collections. 

In 2019, a modern, bold, vibrant logo was adopted, signaling a future of strategic planning and growth.  


Although on City of Corpus Christi parkland, its lease charges the non-profit with full responsibility for developing and maintaining the property as a botanical garden.  The only government assistance of any kind received is $65,000 in local Hotel Occupancy Tax, which much be spent on out-of-area marketing.; plus CARES ACT FUNDING, including “Payroll Protection Plan” in 2020 and 2021. Revenue includes foundation, corporate and private grants and donations; general admission; fundraisers; special events sponsorships; youth tours; memberships; facilities rentals; gift shop sales; and education programming. 

Corpus Christi, the Coastal Bend and South Texas have embraced their non-profit botanical garden with enthusiastic individual volunteerism; corporate, foundation and personal donations; a growing membership base; support through school tours and educational program attendance; and steadily increasing admission numbers.


  • American Public Gardens Association
  • American Horticulture Society RECIPROCAL GARDENS PROGRAM
  • Texas Travel Alliance
  • United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce
  • Texas Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council
  • Greater Corpus Christi Hospitality Association
  • Padre Island Business Association
2021 Board of Directors

Executive Board

Denise Housler, President
          Aquaria Services, Inc., Owner
Don Albrecht, Vice President
          Retired, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Gloria Hicks, Vice President
          Hicks Automotive Group
Betty Thomas, Secretary
Jessica Gilmore, Ass’t. Secretary
          Hollon Safe Company
Lesley Edwards-Cavazos, Treasurer
          Fancher & Company, CPAs
Stephanie Riske, CPA —Ass’t. Treasurer
Nelwyn Anderson
Joyce Barnette
Cindy Boudloche, CPA
          Bankruptcy Trustee
Jennifer Bowen
          Bowen Enterprises, Inc.
Charlene Chesshir
Hugh Dobson
          Las Aguilas Enterprises
June Herbst
B. J. Kershaw
Paul Parr
          Southside Lions Club
Joe Schenk
          Retired Director, Art Museum of South Texas
Rich Tuttle


David Berlanga, III
     CC Distributors
Matthew Busby
     Del Mar College
Melanie Chipman
     Thomas Spann Clinic
Melody Cooper
     Attorney at Law
Kimberly DeVisser
     DeVisser HQ
Karen Easton
Dr. Robert Furgason
     Retired TAMU-CC President
Alex Garcia, Jr.
     American Red Cross
Regina Garcia
Sarah Garza
     Port of Corpus Christi
Ken Griffin
     AEP Texas
Sammie Grunwald
     Incarnate Word Academy
Gerry Heitkamp
Scott Humpal
     Humpal Physical Therapy
Barbara Little
     St. John Paul II High School
Marcus Lozano
     Owner, Feathered Friends & Co.
Patty Nuss
     Peterson Development Company
Holly Osborn
     MDR Advertising
Bob Paulison
     Port Industries
Andy Saenz
     Flint Hills Resources
Manette Scanio
     American Bank
Darcy Schroeder
Linda Strong
Tom Tagliabue
     State, Local Government Consulting
Rick Valls
     Valls Shipping, Port Commissioner
Callie Walker
     TAMU-CC Institutional Advancement
Gaye White
Cathy Winn
Jay Wise
     Merrill Lynch
Linda Zahn—Port Aransas

Regional Advisory Board

Chris Adler
Nueces Co. Judge Barbara Canales
Judy Hawley
Bruce Hawn
Dr. Roland Hernandez
State Rep. Todd Hunter
John LaRue
Nelda Martinez
Carol Rehtmeyer
Cathy Skurow, PE

Technical Advisory Board

John Balcar
Frank Eicholz
Kevin O. Gibbs
Dr. Wayne Hanselka
Herbert ‘Jim’ Harmon
Jenna Hoffman
Chad Huckabee
Rosario Martinez
Jan Shannon
Ron Shannon
Dr. Liz Smith
Tim Tristan, DAVBP RA

The South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center will advance the knowledge and appreciation of plants and the environment, in relation to personal and community education, well-being, and scientific understanding. It will conserve, preserve, display and interpret native and adapted
flora and fauna of South Texas, for area residents and visitors alike.


Our facility strives to:
Offer an ever-growing source of beauty, information,
environmental learning and entertainment;
Provide a positive and satisfying visitor experience;
Enhance local quality of life and economic development through nature tourism.