This month I brought my Invasive Hunter Academy to the Plants and Play event—the first Nature Nights of the summer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center! This was the first time that a Nature Nights event was held outdoors at the Wildflower Center’s Luci and Ian Family Garden. I had a great time and here’s a collection of pictures from that night.
Lots of great kids came to visit with me to learn how to become invasive hunters. They especially enjoyed picking out a prize upon their “graduation” from the Academy.
It’s always so much fun to play the identification game with the kids where they have to guess whether a plant is an invasive or a native. Many times they guess right about identifying native plants, especially when it comes to the Texas Bluebonnet! Even the parents get involved and are often surprised that they have an invasive growing in their yard. And it’s often Elephant Ear!
As the kids and I progress through the Academy, I teach them the Taekwondo moves that they are going to need to take down those pesky invasives.
The final step of the Academy is where the kids get to create their own action diorama with their character battling an invasive plant species.
As I explained to the future invasive hunters how to make the dioramas, I described the invasive hunter character as a “he”…but then one of the girls piped up…”or a she!” How right she was. Anyone can be an invasive hunter and her enthusiasm proved it!
Thanks Mr. Justin Bush, invasive species coordinator for the Wildflower Center, for the invasive species books and brochures that I could pass out to kids. This young invasive hunter talked with me about the invasive species that he saw around Austin.
Our HEB supermarket chain is a generous sponsor of Nature Nights and of other Austin nature events for kids, including Earth Week at St. Edwards University.
I loved the creek at the Wildflower Center. It’s as much fun for kids to wander along (or play in) as the water features at the Austin Nature Center.
The waterfall in the Hill Country Grotto that’s part of the Wildflower Center’s Luci and Ian Family Garden is a great place to hide.
The bronze coyote statues were popular for kids to play on during the night. My Invasive Hunter Academy was set up near these coyotes, and I remember one boy telling his mom that Medusa was here.
I love dogs. Here’s my dog, Obi Wan.
When you visit the Luci and Ian Family Garden don’t forget to visit “The Nests”. They were one of the highlights of the new garden.
It was great to see Bill Oliver (“Mr. Habitat”) and his Otter Space Band performing at the Wildflower Center. I first met Mr. Habitat at this year’s Milam County Nature Festival.
Past Nature Nights at the Wildflower Center
Thanks, Ms. Julie Graham, Education Specialist at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, for inviting me to be part of my third Nature Nights. What a wonderful honor!
Here’s my blog post previewing my 2014 visit to Nature Nights:
And here are posts from my previous Nature Nights visits:
Young Recruits Join the Fight Against Invasive Species at the Wildflower Center
Kids Learn about Invasive Species and Become Invasive Hunters at the Wildflower Center
More adventures for Austin kids this summer
There are lots more Nature Nights to enjoy this summer through July 24 (with a break for the Fourth of July week). Here’s a full list of events, including tonight’s event on water, which should be lots of fun with the waterfall and Dinosaur Creek that’s part of the Wildflower Center’s Luci and Ian Family Garden.
- June 12: Plants and play
- June 19: Fossils
- June 26: Wondrous water
- July 10: Snakes
- July 17: Wildlife tracking
- July 24: Birds of Prey
Hope you’re having a great summer!