Archive for the 'Children in Nature' Category

TPW Magazine — Nature Play

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017
Children with dip  nets in woods at outdoor family workshop in Georgetown near Austin. Image from Texas Children in Nature

Children with dip nets in woods at outdoor family workshop in Georgetown near Austin. Image from Texas Children in Nature

This is Passport to Texas

While all play benefits children, experts agree that nature play is best. Yet, we’ve seen kids disconnect from it.

And that disconnect has resulted in a myriad of different health issues, wellness issues – and then even [affects] becoming the next stewards to take care of our natural spaces and wild things.

Jennifer Bristol coordinates the Children in Nature program. The concept of nature play isn’t new, but the collaboration to ensure children have access to it via a “playground” experience is.

Landscape architects, the childhood development people, and the playground designers all came together and said: ‘Okay, let’s create this space where children can interact with nature, but on a much smaller scale.’

Bristol said studies showed parents like playgrounds because they exist within defined boundaries, and parents can keep an eye on their kids.

Looking at that concept, the playground designer said, ‘Okay, let’s validate what the parents are feeling and that they need, but let’s make the elements that they’re playing with out of natural materials. Or, replicate things that they would find in nature, and use those to help them grow, develop their gross motor skills, problem solve, and then all the other elements when children actually are being active and playing in the outdoors.’

Jennifer Bristol wrote an article about the growth of Nature Play in Texas for the July issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The website lists all the parks, nature centers and activities where you can play, explore and connect with nature near you.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Bust a Move Outdoors for Better Health

Monday, May 15th, 2017
Getting outdoors does a body good.

Getting outdoors does a body good.

This is Passport to Texas

We have more than a million acres of parks and outdoor spaces in Texas, which means recreational opportunities abound, as do the health benefits of being active outside.

It’s recommended adults get a full 30 minutes a day … and children a full hour. Benefits of regular activity include: better overall bodily health as well as improved mental health.

Local and state parks offer something from everyone: from hike and bike trails, to swimming, rock climbing, paddling, and geocaching.

The opportunity for outdoor play is limited only by your imagination!

Being outside means breathing fresh air… and the varying terrain offers challenges to a workout you can’t get from a treadmill at home.

Side stepping puddles, leaping up rocks, and traversing up and down hills exercise your balance and stability in addition to the cardiovascular system.

The outdoor alternative is also more affordable than the gym, as many state parks offer low-cost admission. So go ahead and get out, because life’s better outside.

Find a park or scenic trail near you at

That’s our show…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

A Natural Area With a Place For Play

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Government Canyon State Natural Area’s new Naturescape.

This is Passport to Texas

As San Antonio families with young children discover the close proximity of Government Canyon State Natural Area to their homes, more of them visit the site.

We were here, and folks just didn’t realize it. Now, we are being discovered. Folks are coming out from the local neighborhoods—and the word’s getting out.

Superintendent Chris Holm says the site offers 40 miles of rugged trails for hiking and biking. Yet, during periods of heavy rain, staff close the trails until they dry out. What’s a family with kids to do? Since March, they’ve enjoyed a new ADA accessible playscape.

Being that we are a natural area, we went more for not the regular swings and slides and monkey bars kind of playground—we wanted something that blended more with the natural area. And so, being able to offer things like logs and big boulders and rock steps and a little creek bed that kids can play in. It’s been real popular.

Last month Government Canyon State Natural Area also opened an all-weather, one and a quarter mile accessible interpretive nature trail.

You can take a wheelchair on it. We don’t allow bikes or dogs back there. Over the next year, we’ll be adding in interpretive education signing to the trail as well. It’s a really nice trail.

Find more information about Government Canyon State Natural Area at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Green Habits to Begin This Earth Day

Monday, April 17th, 2017
Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day every day.

This is Passport to Texas

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment…and thus began the annual celebration of the planet called Earth Day.

2017 marks the 47th Anniversary of Earth Day, and millions of people worldwide are gearing up for it. It’s more important now than ever before to take personal responsibility for the care of our environment.

What kinds of things can you do to pay it forward for Mother Earth? Pick up and dispose of trash you find in parks or other public places. That’s simple. Plant native plants that use less water; they also provide food and shelter for wildlife. You could always properly dispose of monofilament fishing line so it doesn’t harm aquatic life.

When camping, leave your campsite in better shape than you found it. Or, your stewardship goal might be to spend time with your family outdoors instead of inside with the television—because a butt print in the sofa cushion offers no value to nature.

Mix it up, and regularly add new earth friendly activities to your list. As for me, I am going to do better with respect to composting kitchen waste and repurpose newspaper and cardboard as a weed barrier in my garden beds.

What will you do?

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Spending Time Outdoors is a Smart Move

Thursday, January 5th, 2017
That's right, just spending time outdoors like this can make you smarter.

That’s right, just spending time outdoors like this can make you smarter.

This is Passport to Texas

Did you know time spent outdoors can make you smarter? Outreach & Education Director Nancy Herron says when we say “smarter”, we don’t necessarily mean increasing one’s IQ.

Being outdoors helps you with focus, and concentration – it clears your mind in a little different way. So when you come back inside, you’re actually more ready to work. And they have neuroscientists who talk about the importance of before an important meeting … a job interview …something you anticipate is going to be stressful: take a walk around the block. Get outside. It clears your mind a little bit. I don’t think you can find a more fertile ground for creativity than nature and outdoors. So, if you want to spark wonder – and that’s the key to learning – that’s getting outside in nature. Put these things on your calendar. Make a commitment to that in those resolutions sop, once a day you’re getting outside to be a little healthier. Once a week you’re going to do something that will help reduce that stress. And once a month get out there – put it on the calendar – you can do this. And they’re fun. They’re really fun resolutions to have.

Here’s to your best New Year ever!

We record our series at the Block House studio in Austin, and our healthy, happy and smart engineer is Joel Block.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.