Mind, Body, & Spirit

The blessings of the San Marcos River run deep for TXST students 

By Matt Joyce

above and below a river
Spring Lake, headwaters of the San Marcos River and home of TXST's Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

Ask a student what sold them on Texas State University, and many Bobcats will mention the Hill Country setting. Rolling hills and greenery characterize the San Marcos Campus, which slopes gently down to our crown jewel — the San Marcos River. The river and its headwaters at Spring Lake provide myriad opportunities for students, from serving as an educational resource to offering a metaphorical jumping off point for graduates who leap into the river wearing their caps and gowns to celebrate commencement. The river also provides a respite from the rigors of college, a place to unplug and relax with a swim, a nap in the sun, or a float downstream. Here we visit with four students who find solace in the river and know they can count on its crystal-clear waters for a healthy reset of the mind, body, and spirit.

Xzavier Ayure

man in a kayak on river

Xzavier Ayure describes his kayak as an extension of his body. On a good summer day, he’ll spend 10 hours paddling and fishing on the San Marcos River. After drifting down the river casting for bass, Ayure paddles back upstream to his vehicle, pulling his kayak over the rapids. Along the way, he watches for wildlife and snaps photos with his phone.

“One of my favorite spots is a five- or six-mile stretch between Martindale and Staples,” says Ayure, a senior from Houston who’s majoring in history and minoring in education. “The banks through there are private property. You can’t enter or exit the river in that area, so there are no tubers, and it’s very clean.” 

“I like to find the uncharted areas and go have quiet time by myself, no cellphone connection. It feels good to hear the wind and just the sounds of nature. It’s a clear, spring-fed river, so it feels really good to take a dip in the water when it’s 101 degrees outside.”

Celeste Medrano

womans face behind multiple glass canisters filled with water

Studio art major Celeste Medrano didn’t spend much time around water as a child in El Paso, a city surrounded by the desert. Coming to Texas State, she found something different and new in the San Marcos River. 

Medrano, a senior, has painted multiple abstract landscapes around the San Marcos Campus, including interpretations of the river. She takes pictures of her subjects and then paints them in the studio at the School of Art and Design.

Medrano says she also likes visiting the river to watch the turtles, which remind her of her box turtle pets at home. “It’s interesting to see the water turtles,” she says. “They’re cute.”

“I’m very interested in color. I remember when I went to the river for the first time, there were so many different colors. I was really drawn to paint the grass in the river — it’s such a vibrant shade of green that I had never really seen before.”

Lisa Fields

woman in water holding goggles on top of head

Lisa Fields, a senior majoring in geographic resource and environmental studies, has an enviable perspective on Spring Lake. As assistant dive coordinator with the Meadows Center, Fields dons her scuba gear to explore the headwaters of the San Marcos River about once a week. Her underwater jobs include cleaning the glass on the glass-bottom boats and culling invasive plants, such as hydrilla, to maintain a viable habitat for the lake’s protected species.

Fields is also an officer of the Bobcat Stream Team, a student group that monitors water quality on the river and trains others to do the same. “People from the community come to learn about how they can take care of the river,” she says. “I’ve met a network of people who care about the environment through the river.”

“Diving in Spring Lake is very meditative in the way it forces you to be present, focusing on your breath and taking in the beauty of the lake. I feel privileged to be able to dive down there. It makes me feel like I’m in the right place.”

Eros Baua

man looking into aquarium tank

Environmental education comes naturally to Eros Baua, a junior who’s majoring in wildlife biology with minors in sustainability studies and nature and heritage tourism. As a high school student, Baua participated in a Houston Zoo program to promote animal conservation. When he arrived at Texas State and found himself on a Spring Lake glass-bottom boat tour, he knew that was the job for him.

Baua has worked as an environmental interpreter at the Meadows Center since his freshman year. He leads glass-bottom boat tours, kayaking and stand-up paddleboard tours, and educational tours for visiting schoolkids. He also works as an aquarium technician in the Meadows Center’s Discovery Hall. On his downtime, he likes to snorkel in the river to relax and refresh.

“We live in an environmentally sensitive area, and it’s important that we all take care of it. On Spring Lake and the San Marcos River, I’m able to share my passion for conservation education and for how much I love the area that I’m in.”