Archive for the 'Education' Category

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.

TPW Magazine — Texas Brigades

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Brigades is a wildlife and natural resource focused leadership development program for youth, 13 to 17.

Texas Brigades has been around for 25 years. It started out as Bobwhite Brigade back in 1993, and then it just kind of morphed.

It’s morphed into is eight summer camps, each with a different conservation focus. Aubry Buzek [Byu-zik] wrote about the Brigades for the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

What was really interesting is that these camps are not necessarily about learning about one particular species. At Bobwhite Brigade, they were learning a lot about quail—and they had biologists there teaching them about quail. But that wasn’t the overall goal of the program. It was about being comfortable with public speaking, comfortable talking with their peers. Debating.

These five-day intensive camps incorporate military marching and cadence, and introduce students to experts and activities that challenge and

I talked to a lot of parents after graduation and they were like, ‘Who is this kid?’ I saw it too. That confidence. A lot of parents said they didn’t expect their kid to know just so much. But, in addition to that knowledge, these kids are loud, and they’re marching, and they make a lot of friends. It really is a transformative camp.

Read Aubry Buzek’s story about the Texas Brigades in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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

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 texasstateparks.org.

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 http://www.star-telegram.com.

Image courtesy http://www.star-telegram.com.

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 tpwf.org.

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