Archive for the 'Education' Category

Using Nature to Nurture Young Minds

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Learning is even more meaningful when it happens at a state park.

This is Passport to Texas

Nature and nurture join forces when home-schooled children use state parks as their classrooms.

I started doing home schooling because I like to keep my job challenging.

Amy Kocurek is an Interpretative ranger for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Children aren’t the only ones who enjoy class.

After doing the second home school class, I just started noticing how rewarding it was. I felt just so incredibly, I guess, thankful that I was doing these classes. And, I felt like I was making a really positive impact on these children. Who knows if they would have learned the importance of conservation and preservation in addition to all of these other topics that I’m teaching them.

And, it reminds me that’s the point of being an interpretative park ranger is that your making these impacts on people every time that you talk to them. You don’t always think about and sometimes you forget about it if you’ve been doing the job for a long time. Then you have these moments and you see the light kind of ignite.

When students use the parks and the ranger’s expertise in learning, bonds develop between staff and students.

For me, for the home-schooled class, I can see this light in their eyes and I just know I’m making them think about things that maybe they would never have thought about before, I know that I’m making a difference, an impact. And, it’s just incredibly rewarding.

Life…and learning…is better outside.

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

The Outdoor Classroom

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
homeschool

A homeschool student enjoying his outdoor classroom.

This is Passport to Texas

Imagine a classroom without walls; one that, instead, is in the middle of nature. You don’t have to imagine. State parks welcome a growing number of home-schooled children annually.

I try to do at least one or two home school programs a month

Amy Kocurek is an Interpretative ranger at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. She says students who come to her park do more than sit, listen and memorize.

[We are] a little more hand on. That’s how I think students really learn. When they do something themselves or they experience it in nature. That’s what I try to facilitate – having that one on one experience.

Rangers like Kocurek create learning opportunities where students work on their own and with classmates to explore and understand the complexities of the natural world.

A lot of programs I do for them are programs that I do on the weekend. But, with the home schoolers, you can add a little bit more of an educational sort of classroom component and you can take a lot longer with them.

Classes range from one to three hours and, when possible, make use of the park’s unique features. Topics are wide-ranging and may include reptile studies, Monarch butterflies and fall leaf chemistry.

It’s a little different from regular park visitation or field trips. The home schoolers keep coming back. You build bonds with these kids.

Life… and learning… is better outside. We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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

Mentored Hunts for Adults

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Ralston Dorn [background] on mentored hunt.

Ralston Dorn [background] on mentored hunt.

This is Passport to Texas

Interested in hunting but don’t have hunters as friends or family to guide you? Some state parks and wildlife management areas conduct mentored hunting workshops for first-time adult hunters. The program is designed to educate and introduce beginners to the hunting experience.

For the last twenty-one years, no one in my immediate family has ever hunted.

Ralston Dorn is a Dallas paramedic and enthusiastic new hunter

I want to break that cycle. So, I found this through Parks and Wildlife and signed up for it.

Justin Dreibelbis is Ralston’s mentor for the day.

This is an opportunity to come out and, take part in a hunt, learn from experienced hunters and, take skills back to their friends and families so they can go hunting.

[ Ralston] Before taking the shot my adrenaline started pumping. I told Justin, my heart is racing. And, he goes alright slow down.

 [Justin] She’s broadside. When you’ve got a good shot, take it

[Rifle shot / Justin] Good shot, man. Great shot.

[Ralston] Had I gone hunting with my uncle, I’m sure I could have gotten a deer but, I don’t think I would have learned nearly as much after the shot, or before the shot, as I did here it.

Learn more about mentored hunting workshops on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

Safe Zone of Fire

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
Illustrating a safe zone of fire.

Illustrating a safe zone of fire.

This is Passport to Texas

Before you discharge a firearm, ask yourself: what is my safe zone of fire? Not knowing can have devastating consequences. But how do you determine your safe zone?

It’s easy to find your safe zone of fire.

Heidi Rao is a Hunter Education Specialist for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Start by focusing on an object ahead of you like a tree, hold your thumbs up and slowly bring them to the side of your body until your thumbs disappear from your vision. This is about a 45-degree angle and the area where you can safely take a shot. This is your safe zone of fire.

If you’re hunting with other people, never swing outside of your 45-degree safe zone of fire.

Another thing to think about is to be aware of is target fixation. When a bird flushes, you could easily forget about your surroundings and your safe zone of fire. If you’re excited and only focusing on your target, you can quickly lose track of your safe shooting zone. You can even lose sight of buildings and roadways. This is very dangerous.

Remember: firearm safety is your responsibility.

So, always be aware of your safe zone of fire, even when you’re excited.

View our hunter education video on Safe Zone of Fire, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel; just search Safe Zone of Fire.

Our show receives support from the Wildlife Restoration Program.

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

Firearm Muzzle Control

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Heidi Rao, demonstrating firearm muzzle control.

Heidi Rao, demonstrating firearm muzzle control.

This is Passport to Texas

Developing and reinforcing hunter safety skills must be a lifelong pursuit for every hunter. The first principle when hunting with a firearm: always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

This is basic safety.

Heidi Rao is a Hunter Education Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. She says even when alone in the field, hunters must remain aware of muzzle direction.

There could be other hunters or even a building near where you’re hunting. And you never want your firearm pointed at anything other than your intended target.

Until you’re ready to shoot, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction with the safety on, and your finger resting outside the trigger guard.

When you are hunting with two or more hunters you need to be aware of where the other hunters are at all times. You really must talk and let the others know where you are.

The way you carry your gun matters.

You always want to carry your gun in a way that there is no way possibility for the muzzle to be pointed at any other hunter.
One of the safest ways to carry your firearm is known as the two-handed carry or the ready position. This carry also provides the most control over your firearm and it gives you a quick setup for a shot.

Find hunter education videos on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our show.

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