Archive for the 'Children in Nature' Category

Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017
Enjoying a nature scavenger hunt.

Enjoying a nature scavenger hunt.

This is Passport to Texas

Most of us will overindulge during the long Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of letting the family collectively slip into a food-induced coma, get outside for some fresh air.

And maybe even have some fun in terms of a challenge or game or scavenger hunt.

Richard Heilbrun is a wildlife biologist with the wildlife diversity program. Personally, I’m intrigued by the sound of the scavenger hunt.

One of my favorite things to do with young kids is to give them a set of objectives: I want you to find a bug. For older kids: I want you to find a butterfly; I want you to find a moth; I want you to find this kind of caterpillar; I want you to observe ten different types of songbirds and tell me what they eat by what kind of bill they have.

Be sure to have a few field guides for reference, as well as binoculars, a digital camera and even a sketch book.

When you give them a challenge, it becomes a game. And they get into it and they get excited. Then, before you know it, they’ve spent their whole day interacting with nature, searching, discovering, and developing a sense of wonder with wildlife. And it’s that sense of discovery that endears them to nature and wildlife and conservation as adults.

And it works up an appetite, too.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Trash to Treasure

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
It's Your World -- let's make it beautiful.

It’s Your World — let’s make it beautiful.

This is Passport to Texas

A project in El Paso, has HS students and the local art community turning roadside trash to treasure.

It’s called It’s Your World, and it’s a really, really cool project.

Nicole Roque, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife, based in El Paso, heard about El Dorado HS art teacher, Candace Printz who, with her students, created the project to improve their community.

She started It’s Your World, and what they do is they go into the community and they do cleanups. They adopted a portion of highway and they went out a few months and cleaned it completely. And they kept statistic on what they found, and then they took all this trash back to their school, they cleaned it up, they separated it, and then used it as art supplies.

It’s Your World compliments AmeriCorps’ mission of improving the human condition. Nicole partnered with the project to develop art workshops.

And they’ve created some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. They recently had an art exhibition; I went to go see it, and it floors you to look at some of these really amazing things [made from trash]. And one of my favorite things that Candace told me is they opened their portable where they had all the supplies, and local artists were coming in to collect supplies for their art, and people were fighting over the trash.

One man’s trash…. Learn more about It’s Your World…we have a link to their website at

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


Some of the students working on art projects made from trash collected along a two-mile stretch of road in El Paso.

It's Your World workshop.

It’s Your World workshop.


A Brighter Future Starts Outdoors

Monday, September 18th, 2017
Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

This is Passport to Texas

They say you can never go home again. Just don’t tell that to Nicole Roque. After graduating college, she moved back to El Paso; in March, she took a job as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

AmeriCorps is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty.

Headquartered at Franklin Mountains State Park, Nicole says a question she usually gets is:

How are you alleviating poverty [via] parks?

Research supports the theory that people who engage the outdoors 30 minutes to one hour a day are happier, healthier and smarter.

Kids do better in school, they have higher self-esteem. They’re just more confident in general. It’s more than just going out and hiking.

A solid education, a high level of confidence and good self-esteem are all tools that help people to move beyond barriers and to lean into success.

We’re definitely looking to help kids feel more welcome by environmental science careers and STEM careers in general – and strengthen them in that way.

Tomorrow Nicole tells us about a program where El Pasoans turn trash into art while learning about environmental stewardship.

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

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

Reconnecting Children with Nature

Friday, August 25th, 2017
Nature Rocks!

Nature Rocks!

This is Passport to Texas

In one generation, we’ve seen kids go from days spent outdoors in nature to days spent indoors with media.

Time spent outdoors by ourselves is where we [previous generations] found our creativity. It’s where we became problem solvers. Where we really shared in this long-running dialogue of imaginative play.

Jennifer Bristol, Texas Children in Nature Coordinator says excessive time indoors on these devices does not inspire kids to be healthier, happier and smarter the way nature play does; and parents are taking notice.

They wish that there was a space or a place that their children could experience that same sort of freedom. And disconnect from everything and play and come up with the games and revisit them over and over again.

The Texas Children in Nature program is a grassroots network that connects children and families with nature in Texas. One way is by creating nature play areas in state parks and community parks.

Government Canyon State Natural Area just installed a beautiful natural play area. They also combine it with having a discovery trail; and it’s really scaled to a child’s level. I really love that about it.

Visit the Nature Rocks website to find 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.

Think Globally, Play Locally

Thursday, August 24th, 2017
Getting kids outdoors makes them healthier, happier and smarter.

Getting kids outdoors makes them healthier, happier and smarter.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Children in Nature is part of the larger – global – children in nature movement.

The concept is that there is a disconnect that has been happening for the past few decades between children and nature.

Texas’ Children in Nature coordinator, Jennifer Bristol, says that disconnect is at the root of various health and wellness issues for our children. It also affects the future of environmental stewardship; but there is reason for hope.

Texas leads the way for the Children in Nature movement within the country. And we’re very excited about the work that we have done throughout the entire state. We have really created some system changes in the way that we think about how do we care for children in our places like schools and daycare centers. How are we helping them have a connection while they’re in those institutions, but also then – how are we looking at their play as a way to also help facilitate that connection with nature?

We’re seeing more nature based play areas at schools and parks. Educators and health care providers promote time in nature as a prescription to help kids become healthier, happier and smarter.

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

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