Staff & Camp Facilities
Dr. BENJAMIN HUTCHINS
Office: FAB 226A
Dr. Benjamin Hutchins has lived in San Marcos, TX since 2009. He received his PhD from Texas State University in 2014 studying groundwater biodiversity and subterranean food webs. For 5 years, he was employed as the state invertebrate biologist, prioritizing, facilitating, and conducting research and conservation on rare species across the state. He has continued to publish research on new species, ecology, and conservation in groundwater habitats. Ben has worked as an educator in public middle school classrooms and as a writer and presenter for audiences ranging from Boy Scouts to master naturalists, to natural resource managers. Ben is an avid caver and outdoor enthusiast along with his wife and daughter.
Katrina Shmidl is an Air Force Security Forces veteran who served 4 years in Italy, Germany, Spain, and Africa; guarding various Protection Level assets. Katrina is originally from Central Colorado, where she grew up snowboarding and playing soccer. Katrina is a creative writer as well as a drone entrepreneur and enthusiast. She has lived in the San Marcos area since 2016 when she began her undergraduate studies in Recreation Administration at Texas State University.
We pride ourselves in our awesome staff! We hire experienced science teachers from around the state to come and work with our campers. As a certified PD provider through TEA, TEEAC and TAGT, teachers receive continuing education credits for being a part of our camp (click here to learn more or apply to be a teacher - link to teacher page). Alongside our teachers, we also have fun and energetic counselors and activity facilitators that are Texas State University students majoring in Recreation Administration, Education, Biology, or other related fields. We also work with staff and faculty from other departments on campus to facilitate a variety of educational and recreational activities. Our staff are there to help your child have the best, safest, and most educational camp experience possible. Staff to camper ratio is one staff for every 5-6 campers. If you are interested in working with the Aquatic Science Camps, please contact Dr. Benjamin Hutchins to learn more about the application processes.
Most of the scientific discovery sessions will be held at the Freeman Aquatic Biology Building on the main Texas State University campus. FAB was built specifically to be a center for cutting-edge aquatic biology research. The grounds surrounding FAB feature a spring-fed creek, an artesian well, numerous ponds, and is located directly across the street from the headwaters of the San Marcos River and Spring Lake. FAB is home to the EARDC offices and many active research laboratories. Campers will have access to high-quality equipment and facilities to investigate the natural world around them
Located just across Spring Lake from FAB is the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and the historic Spring Lake Hall. Texas State University’s most famous attraction, the Meadows Center is home to the glass bottom boats that have taken visitors on tours over the crystal-clear water of Spring Lake for over 60 years. In addition to the glass bottom boat tour, campers will be able to explore the museum and aquarium, view birds and other wildlife from the wetlands boardwalk, and learn about water conservation from their knowledgeable staff. See more about the Meadows Center at www.meadowscenter.txstate.edu
The residence halls at Texas State are air-conditioned and feature common rooms with a TV and pool tables, free to use laundry rooms, vending machines, and a full kitchen. The rooms are equipped with 2 twin beds, desks, and chairs. Most also have a chest of drawers and a closet. Rooms are double occupancy with a shared hall bathroom. Boys and girls are separated by floor or wing depending on the hall layout. Teachers and staff will be assigned a private room on the same floor as the campers.
Overnight Campers will have the chance to spend the second half of the week at the beautiful University Camp, a property owned by Texas State University along the shores of the Blanco River near Wimberley. U Camp is about a 20 minute drive from the main Texas State campus. Campers will stay in one of two lodges, Beretta and Jeffersonian, (gender separated) with counselor supervision. Lodges are equipped with kitchens and climate control. Restrooms and showers are available in the lodge (Beretta) or in a separate bath house (Jeffersonian). Campers will need to provide their own bedding. While at U Camp, campers will enjoy the many amenities the 126-acre property has to offer including prime swimming areas, hiking trails, athletic fields, a natural water slide, and much more! Campers will also participate in age- and comfort level-appropriate activities on the challenge ropes course facilitated by Texas State University Outdoor Recreation staff, including zipline, climbing wall, balance course, and more.