San Marcos Explorers

The Office of Sustainability is committed to giving back to the San Marcos community by supporting local educators and K-12 students with accessible educational materials created with local input and sacred knowledge. Browse our selection of locally inspired lesson plans and activities to implement in your school or organization, and learn how San Marcos Explorers is bringing place-based education into Central Texas classrooms with the power of cross-institutional collaboration.

President Johnson signs the Higher Education Act on Texas State University campus in 1965.
"We believe, that is, you and I, that education is not an expense. We believe it is an investment."
Lyndon B. Johnson
36th President of the United States
A drone shot of TXST campus looking onto the theater building and University Drive on a bright sunny day.

Place-Based Education

Discover the importance of grounding early education in local cultural and natural contexts, and how you can bring it into your own classroom!

Program Background

Managed and created by Office of Sustainability Community Outreach Intern Adriana Montoya in Fall 2022, San Marcos Explorers has been teaching elementary students in the San Marcos community about local nature and heritage to cultivate the next generation of social and environmental stewards. As of Fall 2023, the program is now teaching its second cohort of 5th grade students at Crockett Elementary School and has worked in partnership with Service Learning students under the direction of Dr. Colleen Myles in the TXST Geography Department. Read more about the program's recent accomplishments at the link below.

San Marcos Explorers instructors pose in a group photo at the Crockett Elementary School library

Lesson Plans

Browse lesson plans created by and for San Martians on topics ranging from environmental ethics to local civil rights history.

San Marcos Cemeteries

Students in Crockett Elementary's makerspace room are focused on a presentation being delivered by Office of Sustainability Intern Adriana Montoya.
Students at Crockett Elementary learn about the importance of cemeteries to tell historians about the past.

Students will learn the history of segregation and community resilience in this lesson plan focusing on the history of local cemeteries. First implemented by SME in February 2023.

Coahuiltecan Creation Story

Feathers made of recycled materials lay out to dry on a windowsill.
Personalized heron feathers created by students for a collaborative art project.

Students will learn about the importance of respect for land through the telling of the Coahuiltecan Creation Story associated with Spring Lake. Developed in partnership and with permission from the Indigenous Cultures Institute, this lesson was first implemented in March 2023.

What You Leave Behind Archaeology Lab

Students use sifters and spoons to uncover artifacts in a dig box.
Students use sifters and spoons to uncover and date artifacts in a hands-on lab activity.

Students will learn foundational principles of archaeology and think deeply about human impact on the environment in this lab created with input from Texas State Anthropology faculty. Implemented originally in April 2023.

Intro to Field Guides

Students reference an open field guide to draw an imperial moth on a poster.
Students create and label a drawing of an imperial moth based on a specimen and field guide information.

Students will learn the important roles of native plants and animals in an ecosystem by using field guides to identify mystery specimens from samples and photos. Originally implemented in September 2023.

Frogs and Toads of Central Texas

Plastic frogs are surrounded by litter in a blue kiddie pool from which students must fish out pollutants to symbolize keeping our natural environment clean.
Students are challenged to clean the wetlands of litter in this activity using recycling materials and a kiddie pool.

Students will learn about the ecology of San Marcos' native wetlands through the lives of its amphibian inhabitants. Geared towards Pre-K to kindergarten audiences, these activities were first implemented at the Meadows Center Family Fun Days in November 2023.

Famous Texas Cowpokes

Students at two tables reference cattle brand examples to design their own brands.
Students design their own cattle brands using pencils and markers in the Crockett Elementary library.

Students will learn about the diverse nature of Texas ranching history through tales of famous cowboys and cowgirls who overcame the discrimination of their time to establish successful careers in the cattle industry. Originally implemented in November 2023.