Mayborn Museum Unveils New Backyard Ecology Hall

Press Release —The new Backyard Ecology Hall at the Mayborn Museum will open on October 5 with a ribbon cutting at 9:15am and special grand opening activities from 10am to 1pm. Grand opening activities will include seed-planting in the Historic Village and various activities throughout the museum throughout the day.

The Backyard Ecology Hall is a new long-term exhibit area which will offer an immersive exploration of ecosystems in the Waco area, providing hands-on learning experiences for visitors. It is specially designed to reach fourth through sixth grade level visitors but also offers engaging content appropriate for learners of all ages. “The development of the Backyard Ecology Hall is a major addition to the Museum’s permanent exhibits and represents a significant investment from many individuals, families and supporters to bring this vision to life,” says Charles Walter, Mayborn Museum Director.  

The Hall includes four discovery rooms, each with its own theme that connects to the ecology found in our own backyards. The four discovery rooms include the Amazing Abilities space, the Forms with a Purpose space, the Brazos River Gallery and the Living Together room. Each of the rooms have interactive components, specimens from the Baylor research collection and live animals. 

Created specifically for the Mayborn Museum, the Backyard Ecology Hall will feature Monarch butterfly migration, “snake squeeze” and video microscope interactives as well as a Brazos River-themed water table, a honeycomb-shaped climbing structure and a Baylor Research Station focused on current projects. “The Mayborn Museum is committed to engaging our community and inspiring lifelong learning,” Walter said. “Our new Backyard Ecology Hall is educational, visually stunning and absolutely engaging. We are thrilled to unveil it to the public and to provide hands-on learning experiences for visitors.”  Entrance into the new Hall will be included in the price of museum admission.

General admission for adults is $9, $8 for seniors, $7 for children ages two to twelve. Baylor students and members are free. 

The museum’s hours are:  Monday-Saturday 10 am-5 pm, Thursday 10 am-8 pm,  Sunday 1 pm-5 pm.

The museum is open all year long except for Baylor University home football games and the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday through Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  The museum is located at 1300 S. University Parks Drive, Waco, Texas 76706.  

Can you learn from confessions? Baylor’s Confessions of an Entrepreneur speaker series invites local business owners to campus and lets them dive right into their confessions.

By Kathy Carr

I confess.

I drink too much coffee. I eat too much popcorn, specifically dill pickle popcorn. I have full conversations with my dog. I am a Grey’s Anatomy super fan. Seriously.

There’s nothing exceptionally juicy there and you really didn’t learn anything life changing. Well, if you’ve never had dill pickle popcorn you are now destined to try it for no other reason than pure curiosity.

But for those of you who crave a little more dirt or something with a skeletons-in-the-closet effect, then maybe Confessions of an Entrepreneur (COE) is just for you. Admittedly, COE isn’t quite as salacious as Luke finding out the identity of his father or the whole “we were on a break” debate. However, there really is a lot of good stuff jam packed into these one-hour COE events.

Not familiar with COE? COE is a lunch-time speaker series (12:30 pm – 1:30 pm) on Baylor Campus, hosted in the Hankamer School of Business by the Baylor Entrepreneurship Department. The purpose of COE is two-fold: to promote local businesses and to show the audience that there is more than one path to successful entrepreneurship.

COE is now in its fifth semester, and we’ve had such an eclectic group of local business owners take the mic. We’ve heard confessions of hitting rock bottom, redirecting a family business and simply changing career paths. So many different journeys to entrepreneurship.

We’ve learned the specific details of operating a non-profit, running a coffee house, owning a juice bar and promoting Waco tourism. Have there been hurdles? Absolutely. Have there been doubts? You bet. Have there been sleepless nights? For sure. Do they all think Waco is the coolest place to have a business? Well, duh. We’ve learned so much from these entrepreneurs.

The fine points of each story have been diverse, to say the least. But there is one overwhelming characteristic of each entrepreneur that will grab you and have you on the edge of your seat… PASSION.

Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd was known to say “it’s a beautiful day to save lives” before his surgeries.

I can only imagine the COE speakers going to work each morning and saying things like it’s a beautiful day to blend the perfect smoothie or it’s a beautiful day to brew the best happy-in-a-cup or it’s a beautiful day to delight with did-you-know Waco facts.

The COE talks are both informational and entertaining wrapped together in a beautiful green and gold bow. Will the speaker confessions completely change the direction of your life? Probably not. But they will certainly leave you with a I-never-thought-of-that moment or two.

There are typically two COE events a semester. They are always free of charge and open to the public. The next COE will be Tuesday, October 1. Catherine Ballas and Angela Beeler of REFIT Revolution will take the mic and confess. This talk will not be boring. In case you missed it the first time, this talk will not be boring.

You can almost hear Catherine and Angela say something like it’s a beautiful day to share the love of fitness!

Stop by, grab a snack, pick your chair and enjoy the talk. It’s confession time.

Confessions of an Entrepreneur with Catherine Ballas and Angela Beeler of REFIT Revolution

Kathy Carr is a Program Manager in the Baylor John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise. She enjoys sipping a good cup of coffee and exploring all of the lovelies that Waco has to offer.

Got stuff?

By Anna Dunbar

I occasionally hear some folks express disappointment about recycling options in Waco. I find this surprising and I want to challenge that thought with some ideas about what each of us can do to reduce waste that goes to the landfill.

If you want to reduce your waste in and around Waco, here are some suggestions to try:

Curbside Recycling:  Waco residents can get 1 or 2 blue carts for curbside recycling and 1 or 2 green yard waste carts (effective October 1) for no extra fee. Please call (254) 299-2612 with questions or to request a blue or green cart on Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.  Para informacion en Espanol: (254) 299-2612.  You can also go to and complete a request form.  On the website you will find information about the recycling program including a calendar with “blue cart weeks” and “green cart weeks”.  You can also request a printed calendar be mailed to you. 

Drop-off Recycling: Anyone from anywhere can visit the Cobbs Convenience Center to recycle. You can bring the following items at no charge regardless of residency.   Please rinse items which have contained food or drink.                                        

  • Plastics #1 and #2. Due to changes in the plastics market, lightweight plastics such as fresh strawberry containers and plastic cups, and are not being recycled by Sunbright Recycling. We cannot accept Styrofoam for recycling.
  • Glass bottles and jars, clear, brown, blue and green.
  • Metal, including steel or “tin” cans, aluminum cans, and aluminum pie plates.
  • Paper, such as magazines, phone books, cardboard, junk mail, printer paper, envelopes with windows and stapled paper.
  • Cooking oil (liquid only, please no solid grease)
  • Household batteries and “curly bulbs”.

Drop-off recycling for Waco residents only: scrap tires (fee), appliances with Freon (fee), latex paint, used oil, antifreeze, oil filters and electronics can be taken to the Cobbs Recycling Center. Some items may have a fee. In addition, many electronics (except TV’s) can go to Goodwill. Best Buy accepts electronics for recycling from anyone; Best Buy will charge a fee for electronics with glass, such as TVs and monitors.

Organic waste: Become a part of the “blue bucket brigade” and divert your organic waste from the landfill! Mission Waco is asking for food waste for composting and is making buckets available for the process. One can obtain a blue bucket at the greenhouse, located on the corner of North 15th Street and Colcord Avenue, next to Jubilee Food Market. Instructions are available to help you with diversion of your organics for composting.

Landfill: If you are not a Waco resident, you can take appliances with Freon to the Waco landfill; there will be a $15 per appliance fee. You can also take clean brush for grinding and diversion from landfill disposal. You will pay a tipping fee according to weight.

Building Materials: The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Waco takes used and new building materials. All donations must be in excellent physical and working condition whether new or gently used. ReStore is located at 1224 Franklin Ave in Waco  and normal business hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-3pm. Please drive to the back of the store where you will find the donation receiving area. Please check beforehand to be sure your donation will be accepted

Batteries and bulbs: Batteries Plus Bulbs on Waco Drive offers recycling of all kinds of batteries and bulbs. There may be a fee for some services.

Latex paint: If the paint is completely dry, it can be put in your trash. If you’d like to dry it out quickly, try kitty litter, mulch or sawdust. You can also purchase a paint dry product on-line.

Household Hazardous Waste: The cities of Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Waco and Woodway have held joint hazardous waste days in the past. There will tentatively be a Household Hazardous Waste Day in the spring of 2020. In the meantime, keep your unwanted materials in a safe place, preferably in the original containers. Leaking containers can be put in a second, larger container, then surrounded by kitty litter. Keep all materials out of the reach of pets and children.

Happy Customer at KWB Teacher’s Closet

School supplies or teacher supplies: Keep Waco Beautiful has a wonderful teacher’s closet for teachers to “shop” for no charge. Keep Waco Beautiful accepts donations of usable items. Just call (254) 339-1077 or email

Tools: there is a new opportunity at the Tool Shed, a thrift shop that benefits Friends for Life. It is located at 430 Lake Air Drive. The store accepts new, used or broken tools for resale at a greatly discounted price. The store can also arrange pick-up of donations if needed.

Still have questions? I am happy to assist you. Please contact me at or (254) 299-2612. Thank YOU for keeping Waco clean and green!

Anna Dunbar is the Solid Waste Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a Baylor University alum who works at Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. Anna is an active member of Keep Waco Beautiful and The Central Texas Audubon Society.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Top 10: The Tool Shed thrift shop: a new Waco store to benefit Friends for Life

Top 10  “Most Opened” Blog Posts of 2019: # 7

By Easton Preston, MSW

Friends For Life (FFL) has opened a thrift shop to help fund our programs serving the elderly and people with disabilities. Instead of a normal resale shop with clothing and furniture, the Tool Shed refurbishes and sells used tools of all kinds. FFL got the idea of the Tool Shed Thrift Shop from one of our most helpful volunteers, Kevin Lane. Kevin and his wife recently moved to Hewitt and came to FFL’s January open house.

After hearing Inez Russell’s stories about FFL, Kevin approached Inez and her husband, Bill, about a Tool Thrift Shop in Fairport, New York that raises money for a charity that serves the elderly. That volunteer-staffed store collected tool donations and sold them for 50-90% off retail price. (Learn more about them here: It was such a great and unique idea that we decided to bring it to Waco. With a lot of help from Kevin and the Thrift Shop in New York, we moved forward on this idea this past March. Between March and August, we started advertising and collecting donations and volunteers. The soft opening was on August 14th and it has been going great ever since. In the past four weeks, we have customers that come in weekly to check out the new tools we have at great prices. 

Over 100 people attended our grand opening celebration including Jimmy Don, who has done work for Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper. Jimmy Don made and donated a metal sign of our logo that is displayed at the shop. Some of the festivities included raffle prizes including tickets to Baylor football, basketball, soccer, volleyball tickets, a Common Grounds gift card, a $50 gift card from Waco Custom Meats, a Magnolia gift bag and tour, a necklace from Waco Jewelers, gift cards to The Tool Shed, and a $50 Academy gift card. There were coffee and donuts donated by Dunkin Donuts and hot dogs donated by Super United IGA in Hewitt. Paul Catalina from ESPN came out for remote broadcasting and interviews.  We even had an online silent auction of vintage, unique, and antique tools. Thank you to all who came out, donated, and helped us celebrate our official opening! 

The Tool Shed depends on the community to help keep us running. Donations of old, new, used, or broken tools and hardware, volunteers to help, and shoppers are always needed. We need volunteers for a wide variety of things. Volunteers can help run the cash register, collect donations, paint, clean tools, fix tools, stock shelves, price tools, sort hardware and even help educate customers. Knowledge of tools is not needed. Volunteer hours are flexible. Come for two hours once a month or come every week, whatever fits in your schedule. Donating is easy! Stop by the Tool Shed to drop off a donation between 2 and 6 PM Wednesday through Friday or Saturday 10 to 3. Because of the help from Texas Junk Removal, we can also pick up your donated tools if that is easier for you. Contact Easton at the Tool Shed to arrange pick-ups or another drop off time.

The Tool Shed is located at 430 Lake Air Dr.  It is currently open for customers Thursday and Friday, from 2:00-6:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00-3:00. We hope to see you all there!

 Easton Preston is the Communications Coordinator & Tool Shed Manager at Friends for Life. In 2017, Easton moved to Waco from Dowagiac, Michigan, to attend Baylor’s Diane R. Garland School of Social Work with a community focus and in 2018 graduated with a Master of Social Work. In her spare time, she loves all types of crafting including quilting, making custom cups, home decor and more.  Contact Easton at or 254.772.8100 ext. 501 

We Need your Support to Maintain KWBU, Waco’s National Public Radio Station

By Joe Riley

For more than nineteen years now (twenty in July!), KWBU has brought National Public Radio to greater Waco. Prior to 2000, McLennan County had been the largest metropolitan market in the country without National Public Radio service. Since then, Waco has grown, and KWBU has grown with it, enhancing its schedule with the highest quality news, talk, entertainment and music from around the world. Also, with the help of volunteers, the station provides more locally produced programming than ever (including Act Locally Waco!). And KWBU now has the largest audience in its history. Every week, some 15,000 faithful listeners tune in to learn about our world and our community. That’s up 50% from just five years ago.

Some of the growth in audience is due to the relocation of the station’s transmitter in 2014, providing a clearer, more consistent signal to previously unreached parts of the county. Another factor has to do with politics and the news. During the last presidential election season, many new listeners came to KWBU to keep track of the rapidly changing political and cultural landscape. Trustworthy journalism is essential to a healthy democracy.

KWBU brings this service to Waco – every hour of the day, every day of the year – with a staff of six and a cash budget of about $750,000. Some might think the station is taxpayer funded; in fact, KWBU receives only about 15% of its annual budget as a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All the rest of the funding is local. About half comes from Baylor University (the station is licensed to the Brazos Valley Public Broadcasting Foundation, a subsidiary of Baylor); another portion comes as program support from local businesses; the remainder is donated by individuals – financial support from listeners is the most important source of revenue for Waco Public Radio.

But here’s the odd thing: while listenership is higher than it’s ever been, the number of donors has actually declined. Some have moved away, some have passed away, others have seen changes in their financial situations. Now fewer than five out of one hundred listeners support the KWBU financially. And, as with all organizations, expenses continue to increase every year.

In calculating what this means for the station, here are a couple of important facts:

  • First, the money KWBU receives from the CPB and from Baylor provides a consistent foundation of support, with the expectation that those who use the service will donate money on an annual basis to assure the on-going health and growth of the station. There is no expectation that funds from CPB and Baylor will increase.
  • Second, station expenses go up, on average, about 3½% per year.

To keep up with increases in expenses, funding from individuals and local organizations must grow at an even higher rate – about 7½% per year. This will require a broader base of support – more individuals joining in with the 5% who already give.

Build the Base is a new initiative to strengthen KWBU/Waco Public Radio’s base of support by adding at least six new donors per month.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but over time it will reverse the trend of declining membership. And it’s catching on – since the beginning of the fiscal year in June, more than thirty first time donors have signed up. Your support will help maintain the momentum toward a truly sustainable base of support.

So what can you do? Here are a few ideas:

KWBU is a vital part of the Waco community, providing compelling, trustworthy journalism and intelligent cultural programming and entertainment. Your support really does make a difference. Thank you!

Joe Riley has been President and CEO of the Brazos Valley Public Broadcasting Foundation/KWBU since 2009. Prior to coming to Waco, he worked many, many years in broadcasting in Maine, Tennessee, Alaska, and the Carolinas. He holds a BA (in English!) from Furman University. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.