Shinara Weathersby hosting an NPS table at Rancho de las Cabras. March 12, 2020
Shinara Weathersby is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio, Texas with the Stewards VISTA Program. San Antonio Missions’ work consists of working with the Facilities Division helping with condition assessments and creating a detailed portfolio of the Park’s historic assets, partially with the Interpretation Division assisting with community engagement projects and the volunteer program.
The Interpretation Division is one of the more important initiatives, to make sure ensuring the communities that San Antonio Missions is serving have access to the resources the Park manages. Shinara’s work documenting these resources supports this initiative and the division to develop an education program for Rancho de las Cabras in Floresville, TX. This is the site of the ranch belonging to Mission Espada, and currently there is no interpretation media at the site and no visitation access.
Rancho is one of the parks underused and rarely visited areas, and the work Shinara is doing is helping the San Antonio River Authority to bring more awareness to this historic site.
The work Shinara is performing with San Antonio is to develop a program that would highlight the important resources such as the river, the ranching culture that began there, and the archeology. Shinara is documenting the Park’s assets
and historical resources at Mission San Juan, including documenting some of the unique features of this Mission, such as farmlands and old mill ruins near the San Antonio River. Working alongside the Facilities Division, Shinara is using this information to complete the condition assessments for the park that will be formally reported to the Washington offices. She is working in conjunction with the San Antonio River Authority to achieve this goal. Shinara started her VISTA service in July 2019 and finds it very encouraging to see how important the documentation work she does for San Antonio Missions is for the park in order to continue the assessment process. Shinara’s VISTA service with Stewards is in a unique situation. She is a graduate student at Texas Tech University pursuing a master’s degree in Heritage Management and Museum Science. Texas Tech graduate students are required to complete a research project or gain outside experience in the field in order to receive their degree at the end of their schooling. Shinara thought it would be a good idea to get out in the park and do heritage projects through a VISTA program. She is using her VISTA year as part of her requirements on her master’s degree. When she completes her service year with Stewards, she will go back to Texas Tech University for a presentation on her VISTA projects and what she will do with her career after completing her master’s program. Shinara says she wants to work in museum education in the Texas area and has already applied to a few opportunities.