Gardens weren’t the only things growing during the initial development of the 180-acre site. Personal memberships rose from approximately 350 in 1996 to over roughly 900 in 2009; and in 2015 number topping 1400, thanks in part to our membership in the Reciprocal Gardens program, and a variety of membership efforts. An innovative corporate membership program was introduced in 2000, with seven major corporations in the Coastal Bend leading the way. Education programming and workshops, taught by local experts volunteering their time, originally numbered two classes per month; but currently have more than doubled in both number and attendance, with broader educational and environmental scope, including birding, natural history, kids nature camps, and of course horticulture. Attendance has grown rapidly with over 45,000 guests in 2014.
STBG/NC also has developed excellent working relationships with the local Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and local media making tourism dollars a significant part of its revenue, while at the same time giving back to the community in horticultural education, economic growth and quality of life. Additionally, the Botanical Gardens & Nature Center often works with the Texas State Aquarium, USS Lexington Museum, Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History and the Art Museum of South Texas in reciprocal membership and joint marketing efforts. STBGNC is a member of the American Public Garden Association, American Horticulture Society, Texas Travel Industry Association, Texas Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council, Greater Corpus Christi Hospitality Association, Chamber of Commerce and Padre Island Business Association.
The Botanical Gardens & Nature Center is considered one of the City’s major non-profit cultural and educational attractions; is positioned as a major environmental education and nature tourism destination; and helps makes the Coastal Bend and South Texas a more attractive region for business development, tourism/economic growth and quality of life.
This heightened level of visibility, public awareness and credibility has led to grants and donations allowing rapid exhibit growth, steady increases in visitor counts and revenues, growth in seminar/workshop attendance, plus much higher profile, larger Board.
The South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center is operated by the Botanical and Nature Institute of South Texas, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
Revenue sources are personal and corporate memberships; admissions, grants and donations; gift shop sales; fundraisers; and education program fees. STBG/NC leases its site from the City, and for seven years has received a $20,000 Hotel Occupancy Tax allocation from the City, approximately 5% of its operating budget. No other public funds are received.
It has grown to an extremely lean 11 paid staff, three of which are part-time. It relies heavily on its Board of Directors, volunteers, area plant societies, Nueces Master Gardeners, Texas Master Naturalists, Audubon groups and Community Service program.