The spider inventory at Lick Creek will give researchers a baseline for further studies on biodiversity and the impact of humans on the environment, Henderson said.
Henderson's studies have allowed her to continue a childhood interest. She remembers being intrigued by insects and tarantulas when she was young. "My parents wondered why I liked eight-legged creatures," Henderson said. "Mom couldn't stand it at first."
But her parents allowed her to keep her collection as long as the tarantulas and spiders didn't get out into the house, she said.
As an undergraduate, Henderson took her parents, who lived in Brenham at the time, to some of her classes.
"Her enthusiasm for spiders was backed by the hard work required for her to become proficient in their identification and to study their biology," Harris said.
In all of her collecting and studies, Henderson has never been bitten, although she has had a skin irritation caused by a rosehair tarantula flicking off some of its abdominal hair, she said.
Henderson hopes her studies will be a stepping stone to a new career when she graduates in May. "There are few arachnologists," she said. "But that (knowledge) comes in handy when someone gets bitten or you have major spider problems."
The City of College Station has a long-term commitment to inventory the park, which has diverse plant and animal populations, for changes in habitat, she said. The park has areas for hiking, bird watching and horseback riding, and is one of the areas that has Navasota Ladies'-Tresses, an endangered orchid. More information on the park can be found at http://www.cstx.gov/docs/111946232004lick_creek_brochure-04.pdf.