May, 2021
Texas Children in Nature Network Quarterly Newsletter
This spring has been an exciting one for Texas Children in Nature Network. We have been hosting lots of workshops and webinars, working with partners across the state and releasing our new 2021 Strategic Plan.

With this plan we are also rolling out a more formalized partner model. In order to become an official partner of Texas Children in Nature Network we are asking for organizations to read our strategic plan and sign on to support our mission, no fees involved. As a partner organization you will be eligible to attend partner networking events, share resources, your logo will be displayed on our website, and more!

I hope your organization will become a partner of Texas Children in Nature Network. We are looking forward to an amazing next three years and can’t wait to get started! You can sign on as a partner by filling out this google form: https://forms.gle/hB2FegBj84q78MXZ6

This quarterly newsletter will show off all the great work going on around the state as well as share some resources for all as we strive to encourage children and families to spend more time in nature.
Save the Date!

Join us for our 2021 Summit on December 2-3 in Fort Worth. We are busy lining up great keynotes and planning a wonderful Summit.

A Request for Proposals for Summit Sessions will go out on June 1st, so keep an eye on your inbox.

We have sponsorship opportunities available.
Join our Next Webinar
AWE-SOME: What Adults Can Learn from Children in Nature

June 2 at 2:00 and 7:00

Austin
Author Amy Jackson with Starry Sky Austin has launched her new children's book "Cassandra and the Night Sky." It tells the story of a nine-year-old princess who grows up in a land without stars, a royal tea party and the magic and mythology that lends its voice to the explanation of the legends of the starry night sky. Author Amy Jackson hopes that "Cassandra and the Night Sky" will inspire kids to make up their own star stories to tell, and more importantly, to connect with the cosmos above and develop a lifelong love of space. Go to http://www.theastronomylab.com  to learn about live, online classes for ages 9-13 starting this June and how you and your family can connect with the night sky.
Dr. Robert Bullard
The TCiNN Equity Strategic Area team is bringing this feature in every newsletter. A highlight of a nature hero who is a person of color.
 
This newsletter we highlight Dr. Robert Bullard, currently Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University. Dr. Bullard is considered the “father of environmental justice’ by scholars in the field. Environmental justice embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. He has been a leading campaigner against environmental racism, as well as the foremost scholar of the problem, and of the Environmental Justice Movement which sprung up in the United States in the 1980s.
 
Dr. Bullard conducted the first comprehensive study of ecoracism in 1979, finding that toxic waste sites in Houston were disproportionately located in black neighborhoods. Over the 1980s he widened his study to the whole American South. He has written eighteen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, disasters, emergency response, and community resilience, smart growth, and regional equity. Dr. Bullard also played a key role in the organizing of the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991.
 
He has received many awards and honors; notably in 2014, the Sierra Club established the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award to honor individuals or organizations doing outstanding work on environmental justice.
 
Coastal Bend
Over the last month students from several schools in the Coastal Bend were able to participate in the Youth Category in the Great Texas Birding Classic. This year we had a record 8 youth teams competing in the Great Texas Birding Classic sponsored by TPWD.

Fulton 3-5 Learning Center
Over 10 years ago, Martha McLeod created a youth birdwatching program at Fulton 3-5 Learning in Rockport-Fulton, Texas under the tutelage of Bron Rorex Carrier and the Aransas Bird and Nature Club. About a dozen R-F Middle School and R-F High School students continue to return to the birding program and join weekly co-teaching the younger grades 3-5 birding team students. The students practice every Wednesday morning before school starts at 7AM with monthly field trips to birding hot spots. 

Check out a power point to see more about what they did.
Coastal Bend - Birding Continued

Olsen Elementary
The Olsen Elementary TOSoaring Seagulls are a Youth Birding Club that got re-started April 1 (after about a year hiatus). The Youth Birding Club is an after school program sponsored by Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE), Port Aransas Parks & Rec, and the Port Aransas Nature Preserve. The Great Texas Birding Classic team was sponsored by the Texas Ornithological Society. The team chose to complete in the Big Sit division and participated from the tower at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center.
Resource Alert!
Eddie McKenna is a member of the Texas Children in Nature Network steering committee. He is with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Marketing team and he works with many in the department on translating materials from English to other languages. He shared a great resource and a bit about how he uses it:

Hello friends,
I have helped coordinate translations at Texas Parks and Wildlife for most of the 21st century. Most of the projects have been in Spanish and English, but at times we have also offered resources in Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. Some of these resources have been in print. Others have been more web-based. They have included public information, basic health and safety efforts, visitor orientation panels, and much more. Today, for example, we are testing bilingual resources within our newest state parks reservations system.
 
I find the guidance at link below from USAGov very helpful. Featured here is a quick “top ten tips” overview, but I also wanted to share the entire guide, in case other TCiNN newsletter readers find it helpful too. Enjoy!

Pineywoods
During the Summer of 2021, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine PEER Program is offering an exciting educational outreach opportunity! PEER stands for “Partnership for Environmental Education and Rural Health.” The PEER program is designed to promote STEM education in the Texas community by providing resources for educators. The website contains free teaching aids such as lessons, videos, worksheets, and activities that you can download and use however you would like. PEER is funded by federal grants from NSF and NIH, so these materials are provided at no cost to you or your students.
 
PEER can also come to your location to host an outreach event! If your organization prefers a virtual platform that can also be provided. Programs are available any time from May 10th to August 6th, 2021.
 
Schedule your visit today and learn more: cvmpeer@cvm.tamu.edu
North Texas
Faced with rethinking summer camp the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and Fort Worth Botanic Gardens have come up with a create approach to engaging families this summer. Cheryl Potemkin, their Early Childhood Program Manager shares all about their new Adventure Day Kits program.

An alternative to drop-off camps…
It was December 2020, and like any other year, we were beginning to plan out summer camp logistics. We have a small camp compared to many – 3 age groups spread out over four weeks in all, with capacities under 20 per age group at most. Our shade is limited, our water fountains are off, and the indoor spaces are critical in the afternoon heat. With registration for camps opening in February, we had a decision to make: to plan camps with the hopes of a normal summer or to invest the same amount of time planning a new summer program with less risk. We invested. We called thought partners and found common ground.
We saw this opportunity as a chance to answer a lot of requests we get about camp, but often cannot accommodate: what about evenings and weekends? Camp hours that do not work with all schedules? Keeping siblings together? Acknowledging our audience helped as well: It is difficult enough to get the family to the destination without planning and packing activities. Our program emerged. This summer, BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden will be offering camp-inspired kits to explore the Garden – hopefully in new ways for visiting families. Adventure Days in the Garden will give children a backpack full of activities and supplies – enough to spend a STEAM filled day exploring our spaces, plus more to continue the learning at home. All activities and supplies in the backpack are for the children to keep and continue using. Activities come from our well-known camp favorites that pack well, ideas we’ve been waiting to try for a year, and some adapted lessons from our summer exhibit – Nature Connects. The LEGO brick based exhibit, Nature Connects, was too much fun to ignore. It opened up the chance to partner with a local, family owned and run brick store that makes and sells custom brick sets. Now, along with activities, children will receive a custom designed nature themed LEGO set. Parents can register to pick up their kit as they enter the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, in a will-call system that allows families to schedule their visit during any open hours. Admission for the child and parents are included with each Adventure Kit purchase. 
Cities Connecting Children to Nature Austin

CCCN Austin is excited to add a new initiative this spring, Nature Smart Libraries. This initiave is off to a great start as the department has launched the planning of gardens at select library sites, the planting of trees, staff training with Project Learning Tree and so much more.
Access Spotlight - Green School Yards
The month of May is dedicated to celebrating Green Schoolyards across the globe. In communities where there are no parks or green spaces this effort is trying to convert traditional school grounds to places with plants, rain gardens, pathways, and places for the community to connect with nature.

Several communities in our state are pursuing this initiative to add more nature areas to their towns. Lots of resources of how to start your own Green Schoolyard can be found at Green Schoolyards America.
Partner Spotlight - Alveole Houston

Pollinators are an essential part of our ecosystem, a part that is in decline. Alvéole Houston is doing their part to increase pollinators in the city of Houston through engaging the community with urban bee-keeping. The organization places bee hives on the roofs of buildings across the city and offering educational programming for local students.
Equity Resource Spotlight - On Belonging in Outdoor Spaces Webinar Series

This webinar series features a group of speakers sharing their experiences in the outdoors and how we can work towards creating more welcoming spaces.

TCiN Partner Job Postings
As many of our friends and partners are looking for their next opportunity we will share some postings that have been shared with us.

Botanic Research Institute of Texas - looking for a Education Operations Specialist https://brit.org/about-us/careers/

Cibolo Center for Conservation - is looking for teachers for their NEST nature school and summer camp staff: https://cibolo.org/about/staff

Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge - is looking for a new Executive Director: lyn@firendsofbalcones.org

The City of San Antonio - is looking for an Urban Forester: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/sanantoniotx
Upcoming Regional Meetings
  • Austin: email Kathy to find out more
  • Coastal Bend: email April to find out more
  • Next meeting July 15
  • Houston: email Amanda to find out more
  • Meetings are on hold or the Summer, will start to meet again in September
  • North Texas: email Dustin to find out more
  • May 26
  • Rio Grande Valley: email Bianca to find out more
  • San Antonio: email Thea to find out more
  • May 25
Announcements
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