BORREGO SPRINGS – Betsy Knaak is proud to have
botanical illustrations by the late Henry R.
Mockel at the Borrego Desert Nature Center.
said she was struck by their beauty when she
visited the artist's widow in 1995.
these beautiful prints. This was something I
always wanted to do for the Natural History
Association, and now having the nature center,
we were able to do this."
is the executive director of the Anza-Borrego
Desert Natural History Association, which
operates the center.
exhibit of Mockel's work runs through June 27.
is going to be very exciting," Knaak said. "I
think people will respond to them . . . The art
is so pretty."
50, started working for the Natural History
Association in 1984 and was promoted to
executive director in 1990. She works out of a
spacious area that serves as offices, board room
and storage area for research materials, around
the corner from the Borrego Desert Nature Center
at 652 Palm Canyon Drive.
addition to arranging exhibits, Knaak is in
charge of planning for the association and
selecting merchandise for the nature center.
items for sale at the center relate to the
desert, and most books are published by the
local natural history association. There are
books about the area's history as well as guides
to birds and flowers found in the desert.
of Knaak's job entails answering tourists'
of people stop in at the center to find out what
there is to do in the desert," she said.
moved to Borrego Springs in 1978 for a seasonal
job at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. She was
studying park and recreation administration at
San Diego State University.
met the man who is now her husband, Manfred
Knaak, here when he was a supervising state park
ranger. They moved into the park residence at
Tamarisk Grove soon after they were married in
had no telephone, only the park radio," Betsy
Knaak said. "We trucked in drinking water.
Sometimes Manfred would have to drive to the top
of Yaqui Pass to call on the radio. We lived
there for 10 years."
son, Alexander, was born while they lived in
Tamarisk Grove. He is now 13.
Eventually, they moved into town to be closer to
were wonderful years," she said of Tamarisk
Grove. "There is wonderful bird watching in
Tamarisk Grove. In the spring, we could
bird-watch right from our breakfast room window.
Sometimes I would see 20 or 25 species just over
Manfred Knaak retired from the state park in
1997 and teaches anthropology at Imperial Valley
Knaak volunteers with other community groups.
She is active with Friends of Borrego Springs
Library, and she reads to students at the local
there once a week to read to the
fourth-graders," she said. "I started
volunteering at the elementary school when my
son was in kindergarten."
also was involved with starting the Borrego
Springs Children's Center, a nonprofit licensed
day care center, and she worked on the committee
that brought about the Boys & Girls Club of
weekends, Knaak teaches Sunday school at
Community United Methodist Church in Borrego
information about the Mockel exhibit, call (760)
Ruth Lepper is a freelance writer based in
Ramona. A town focus for Borrego Springs, Julian
or other backcountry towns is published each
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Contact Julie Pendray at (760) 737-7562 or
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