Archive for the 'Education' Category

Wisdom of the Owl (pellets)

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Barred Owl

Barred Owl

This is Passport to Texas

Owls symbolize wisdom – and we can learn much from them when pick their… pellets.

It’s more dignified than digging through poo because you’ll be digging through vomit.

Amy Kocurek and I have different ideas about what’s dignified, but this interpretive ranger at Martin Dies Jr. SP, in East TX does know how to keep visitors engaged.

The kids especially, they love it. Little furry, tin foiled wrapped up presents, that they get to unwrap and see what sort of mysterious surprises await inside.

Wrapped in foil? Yes, because you can order them online.

Most of them are from barn owls that people will collect from in their bars where owls just hack up these pellets; they’ll collect them and sanitize them and sell them for teachers, mostly.

Whether pellets are fresh or sanitized for your protection, those small, furry capsules have secrets to reveal.

Because it contains these almost perfectly preserved pieces of bones and beaks and different things the owl ate, researchers can see what their man food source is in the area that they’re living, if that food source is changing seasonally…. But also, if you’re doing population studies on small mammals that will allow you to see how many different types of mammals are being eaten by owls. So, it can give you an all-round general idea of the population of animals in that ecosystem.

Dissect pellets with Amy Kocurek April 15 at Martin Dies Jr. SP; details at

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

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

Archery in Schools: The Great Equalizer

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
Bernie Kessner teaching archery to teachers.

Bernie Kessner teaching archery to teachers.

This is Passport to Texas

Archery—the original shooting sport—fell out of favor as a component of physical education in public schools some years ago. But, now, thanks to the National Archery in Schools program, interest in the sport is growing fast.

The National Archery in Schools program certifies teachers as instructors. Educators learn the program just as they will teach it to their students.

It’s an all day workshop to become a certified instructor. They learn with the same equipment and the same method.

Burnie Kessner is archery coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We use international style archery. It’s bulls-eye target faces, Olympic size. We use Olympic whistle commands, and they learn the same way worldwide.

Kessner says while certified instructors prepare students for tournaments, the successes a child experiences extend beyond the bulls-eye.

So, when a kid is shooting archery, and they’re on the shooting line—they’re all the same. So, it doesn’t matter what kind of home they go home to after the tournament, when they’re at the tournament, they’re the same as everyone else. So, that’s the self-esteem building piece; it’s standardized.

Learn more about bringing the Archery in Schools program to your district on the Texas parks and Wildlife Website.

Our series receives support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program… working to increase fishing, hunting, shooting and boating opportunities in Texas.

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

Control Breeding Sites to Control Mosquitoes

Monday, June 27th, 2016
Image courtesy

Image courtesy

This is Passport to Texas

Apply sunscreen this summer, and while you’re at it, apply products with DEET or essential oils that repel Aedes aegypti, a mosquito, suspected of spreading Zika virus.

It’s an introduced species, and it is most common around the eastern half of Texas.

Austin-based entomologist, Mike Quinn, says one way to lessen exposure to Aedes aegypti is based on the time of day you’re out and about.

The Aedes aegypti is a day biting insect, so it’s a little different [than other mosquitoes].

While reports of the virus in the US are travel related, pregnant women are encouraged to use caution, as zika has been linked to neurological issues in newborns. Quinn says the insects breed in standing water.

The Aedis isn’t a long distance flyer. So, controlling breeding sites on our property can be a very effective way to reduce the mosquito. And, it’s what we call a container breeding mosquito. And it’s in pots and barrels and toys and bottles; it can breed in a very small amount of water—a tablespoon or less even. But, it takes about a week under optimal conditions to go from egg to adult. So, doing a weekly cleanup of property—checking for water sources; changing out the birdbath water on a weekly basis is a good way to keep the population down locally.

Find links to more information about Aedes aegypti and the zika virus on the passport to Texas website.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series and helps keep Texas wild with the support of proud members across the state. Find out more at

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

The Next Steps: Hunting 101 Classes

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
Learning to shoot during Hunter Education

Learning to shoot during Hunter Education

This is Passport to Texas

Would-be hunters born on or after September 2, 1971 must successfully complete a Texas Hunter Education training—where they learn firearm safety—in order to legally hunt. But the learning doesn’t have to stop there.

In our advanced hunter education efforts, [you’ll learn] everything from dove hunting, to deer hunting and turkey hunting—and all the kinds of hunting that goes on in Texas. You can learn more about the species, about its habits, behaviors. Where to go hunting and the time of year to go hunting for those species.

Steve Hall is hunter education coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Hunters have an opportunity to expand their understanding of the species they hunt.

We’re launching a Hunting 101 program that enables folks to really learn more about individual species or methods, such as bow hunting and muzzle loading.

The new Hunter 101 program will launch this summer.

We’ve been testing dove hunting 101, turkey hunting and hog hunting 101workshops already. So, we’re going to launch this summer 2016 –mostly for dove hunting, in preparation of the dove hunting season. And we’re doing that in partnership with the Texas Dove Hunter’s Association. All of these Hunting 101’s will be in partnership with conservation organizations. All of them, of which, are located in Texas as well.

Find hunter education information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Should Texas Worry About the Zika Virus?

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Zika infographic courtesy of

This is Passport to Texas

According to the World Health Organization: Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947.

It’s one of these tropical diseases that was known in the literature, but there weren’t any outbreaks until more recently.

Mike Quinn is an entomologist in Austin who’s been following reports of the virus and its carrier, often called the yellow fever mosquito.

The consensus is that it’s Aedes aegypti that’s the main culprit. The Aedes aegypti being people specific is an effective vector in that it can bite one person with the disease virus, and then bite another person and transmit that virus.

The World Health Organization tells us: Substantial new research has strengthened the association between Zika infection and the occurrence of fetal malformations and neurological disorders. We’ve seen this most markedly in Brazil, with an increase in microcephaly in newborns of infected mothers. Do we need to worry in Texas? Is this mosquito in our midst?

It’s an introduced species. And it is most common around the southeastern gulf coast states, but it’s in the eastern half of Texas.

Direct infection by a mosquito has not occurred in Texas. Reported cases have been in people who traveled to zika hot spots. Tomorrow: what we can do to manage mosquitoes around the home.

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