Setting up the Invasive Hunter Academy with samples of edible invasive plant species
It was wonderful bringing the Invasive Hunter Academy to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Thursday, June 11, 2015, to help teach kids about invasive species as part of this summer’s Nature Nights events.
What a hit they were! The Taro chips went fast, but many agreed that the Bamboo was an acquired taste.
Here are some pictures from the event:
Lots of plant activities for kids during Nature Nights 2015
The young Austin naturalists found a great spot near the academy table to sample invasive plant species and work on their Invasive Hunter action diorama.
Remember that to become an Invasive Hunter, you need to learn the action moves to take down your opponent.
I enjoyed talking with kids about invasive species as they picked the invasive plant they wanted to battle for their action diorama.
Thanks, Ms. Julie Graham, Wildflower Center Education Specialist, for inviting me to bring my Invasive Hunter Academy back to Nature Nights this year! We had a lot of Austin kids graduate as Invasive Hunters, ready to protect their native ecosystem from non-native plants.
Nature Nights in July
There are more opportunities to enjoy the Wildflower Center this summer! Nature Nights continues with more fun, family-friendly events in July:
Thank you Mr. Hance, Mrs. Kuhlken, Ms. Addie Broussard with the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, and all the conference organizers for inviting me to be part of this outstanding event. I look forward to talking more with the many wonderful naturalists and nature leaders that I met during the event.
Commander Ben checking into the Children and Nature Network Conference 2015
Wow! What an exciting evening yesterday at the Children and Nature Conference 2015. I talked with so many great naturalists and nature enthusiasts during the reception at the Hyatt Lost Pines last night.
Here’s a video preview of my Adventures with Invasive Species presentation and fellow speakers Andy Kuhlken and Sahil Shah for our Kid Talk panel today, April, 7, 2015.
Here’s a video interview with my fellow presenters, Andy Kuhlken and Sahil Shah. Andy will be talking about “Minecraft and Biophilic Design”, and Sahil Shah will be talking about “Who Is a Scientist? A Fifth Grader Finds a Voice Through iNaturalist”.
I’m thrilled to be speaking on a panel with them! Join us today at the conference!
This conference brings together worldwide leaders to learn about what visionaries, policy makers, scientists, naturalists, and technology enthusiasts are doing to promote nature and nature-rich communities for children and families.
There’s no question technology is important to our everyday lives. Since I have dyslexia, I use technology on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac everyday to help me learn in high school, take pictures, research topics, enjoy entertainment, and keep up with current events.
But it’s important not to lose our love of nature. There’s nothing that can replace exploring the animal and plant life in our streams and waterways, walking through the majestic Redwood forests, and seeing our beautiful Texas wildflowers. Kids need technology to help them be successful in their everyday lives, but we don’t want them to lose their love of and appreciation for the natural world.
Adventures with Invasive Species
I’m part of the Kid Talk panel during the first day of the conference. During my “Adventures with Invasive Species” presentation, I’ll talk about how I battled with invasives by bringing together technology and nature through my blog commanderben.com and my YouTube channel. My blog posts and Battles with Invasive Species video series entertain and teach kids of all ages about nature by helping kids learn about and how to stop the spread of invasive species.
As part of my presentation, I’ll also share my experiences in the digital world, as a citizen scientist with the Invaders of Texas Program, which is part of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
With the Invasive Hunter Academy, kids can learn about invasive species through visual means, actions moves, and physical crafts. With my dyslexia, I have a special fondness for the academy because it helps kids with different learning styles learn in different ways.
As part of the panel, I’m with two innovative kids who will be talking about how they’re bringing together technology and nature:
Minecraft and Biophilic Design – Andy Kuhlken will talk about how biophilic design principles can be incorporated into Minecraft. He’ll also show examples of how nature can be involved while playing a computer game. Andy is an eighth grader at the Austin Montessori School.
Who Is a Scientist? A Fifth Grader Finds a Voice Through iNaturalist – Sahil Shah will talk about his eight-week ecology-based service learning project, where his interests led him to iNaturalist and how he realized the value of his own voice. Sahil is now a sixth grader at Canyon Vista Middle School.
These are going to be great presentations! Creating biomes in Minecraft is a lot of fun and a great way to learn about ecosystems. iNaturalist let’s you record what you see in nature, meet other naturalists, and learn about the natural world around you.
Keynote speakers at the Children and Nature Network Conference 2015 (Image credit: Children and Nature Network)
There will be a lot of outstanding speakers at the conference, including:
Richard Louv, Chairman Emeritus for the Children & Nature Network and author of many books, including the Last Child in the Woods, will talk about “The Case for Nature in a Virtual World”. Mr. Louv coined the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder”!
Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa, Founder and Board Chair of 8-80 Cities, will talk about “The Nature-Rich City: Creating Vibrant & Healthy Communities for All”.
Melina Gerosa Bellows, Chief Education Officer for the National Geographic Society, will talk about “Raising Tomorrow’s Explorers”. Ms. Bellows is also a best-selling author of children and adult outdoor adventure books.
A tsunami of Yellow Bastard Cabbage flowers threatens to overwhelm Texas wildflowers
What are those tall plants with yellow flowers in your pictures with Texas Bluebonnets? The invasive species Bastard Cabbage is taking over Texas wildflowers, but there is a way we can fight back. Watch my latest Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers YouTube video.
The war rages on. The Texas Bluebonnet, Indian Paintbrush, and other Texas wildflowers are still battling it out with the Bastard Cabbage since I created the Native Plant Avengers YouTube video.
Commander Ben invites you to join the fight against the Bastard Cabbage
There are still a lot Bastard Cabbage invasive plants out there, but the good news is that more people know that the tall plant with yellow flowers is not native to Texas, and they can take steps to stop the spread of the invasive Bastard Cabbage and plant more native Texas wildflowers.