Category Archives: Rockdale Intermediate School

Fun Activities for Young Texas Naturalists at the Milam County Nature Festival

The 2014 Annual Milam County Nature Festival has fun and free nature activities for kids of all ages

The 2014 Annual Milam County Nature Festival has fun and free nature activities for kids of all ages

It’s spring…yea!…bringing life to nature, including our native plants and…ugh!…invasive species too. Invasive species have both economic and environmental costs. They crowd out our native plants, including our beautiful Texas wildflowers, and compete with our crops. We’ve got to protect our native ecosystem!

Commander Ben and his Invasive Hunter Academy before the start of the 2013 Milam County Nature Festival

Commander Ben and his Invasive Hunter Academy before the start of the 2013 Milam County Nature Festival

Young naturalists, join me and I’ll show you how to become an expert Invasive Hunter with my Invasive Hunter Academy at the 5th Annual Milam County Nature Festival, April 11-12, 2014, at the Rockdale Fair Park in Rockdale, Texas. The event is free with lots of activities for kids of all ages!

Future invasive species hunters train with Commander Ben at the Invasive Hunter Academy during the 2013 Milam County Nature Festival

Future invasive species hunters train with Commander Ben at the Invasive Hunter Academy during the 2013 Milam County Nature Festival

I had a great time training young invasive hunters at last year’s festival. There were a lot of fun events in 2013, including a booth on crayfish. They’re fascinating invertebrates that I’ve always enjoyed and learned more about in my freshman high school biology class this year. (The Texas Crawdads exhibit will be back in 2014 too!)

Habitat conservation

The 2014 Milam County Nature Festival focuses on habitat conservation. In keeping with the festival theme, you’ll enjoy nature songs from “Mr. Habitat” Bill Oliver, the “Environmental Troubadour”, and you’ll find Mr. Doug Phillips with the US Fish and Wildlife service talking about wildlife habitat improvement, including a discussion of prescribed fires and vegetation management. Ms. Linda Ruiz-McCall, with UT Austin, will also be there to talk about water conservation with a ground water simulator that I’m sure will be fun to interact with.

In addition to the speakers, there will be tons of kids activities, including:

  • Angler education – Have fun learning how to cast for fish
  • Archaeology digs – I always enjoyed digging for treasures when I was younger
  • Knapping demonstrations – Making arrowheads is another fun activity
  • Mammal pelts and paws – Learn about Texas animals, see and touch their skulls and pelts, and create animal tracks with molds

And lots more!

Talking with kids about invasive species and dyslexia

Commander Ben talks about invasive species to kids at the Rockdale Intermediate School in 2013

Commander Ben talks about invasive species to kids at the Rockdale Intermediate School in 2013

Last year, I had a fantastic time talking with the kids at the Rockdale Intermediate School about my adventures as Commander Ben, “The Invasive Hunter”, and my experiences with dyslexia. This year, I’m really looking forward to talking with the students at the Milano Elementary School on Friday.

Thanks, Dr. John Pruett, for inviting me back to this year’s festival! I love working with all the master naturalists in the El Camino Real Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, and I especially enjoy having fun with all the kids.

Hope to see you there!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Doug Phillips, El Camino Real Chapter, Habitat conservation, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, John Pruett, Milam County Master Naturalists, Milam County Nature Festival, Milano Elementary School, Rockdale Fair Park, Rockdale Intermediate School, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Water conservation

Commander Ben Talks about Invasive Species and Dyslexia at Rockdale Intermediate School

Commander Ben talks to 350 enthusiastic students about invasive species and dyslexia at Rockdale Intermediate School

Commander Ben talks to 350 enthusiastic students about invasive species and dyslexia at Rockdale Intermediate School

Last month, I had one of the greatest experiences in my life when I went to talk about invasive species and dyslexia to 350 third through fifth graders at the Rockdale Intermediate School.  Dr. John Pruett, of the Milam County Master Naturalists, coordinated the event as part of the Milam County Nature Festival, which took place the next day on Saturday, April 13.

When I arrived at the school, Dr. Pruett met me at the entrance and then I checked in and got to meet Principal Kathy Pelzel and Ms. Susan Boyd, ACE Coordinator for the school. Before the start of my talk, I joined the other Milam County Master Naturalists, including Ms. Joyce Dalley, in a conference room where we chatted about invasive species, nature, and other fun stuff.

At 2:00 PM, Dr. Pruett introduced me to a cafeteria room full of excited students. They gave me an enthusiastic and thunderous round of applause as I took the mic.  I was humbled…and nervous!  But once I started to speak, I relaxed and had a wonderful time. They were a great audience!

Commander Ben talks about his "Ecesis Far Far Away" video and the invasive species Elephant Ear.

Commander Ben talks about his “Ecesis Far Far Away” Video and the invasive species Elephant Ear.

I talked to the kids all about invasive species, the Invasive Hunter Academy, my blog, my videos (and showed a few of them!), and my experiences with dyslexia.  With each video, I talked about the characters that I played and the invasive species that I featured. It was a lot of fun.  It was especially rewarding when the kids laughed and laughed while watching my The Amazing Invasive Hunter Man video, part of my Battle with Invasive Species video series.

After my talk, the kids had some great questions for me…including…Was I nervous? (Yes) How old am I? (14) What’s my favorite animal? (Dog – especially my dog Obi-Wan) What’s my favorite color! (blue, but green for plants too) And what are some of the toughest invasive species in Texas? (Giant Reed and Hydrilla)

Ms. Susan Boyd, Dr. John Pruett, Ms. Joyce Dalley, and Commander Ben show off their invasive hunter skills.

Ms. Susan Boyd, Dr. John Pruett, Ms. Joyce Dalley, and Commander Ben show off their invasive hunter skills.

Thanks Dr. Pruett, Principal Pelzel, and Ms. Boyd for inviting me to talk to the great students at Rockdale Intermediate School. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did. I know they’re going to be great future invasive hunters!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Amazing Invasive Hunter Man, Battles with Invasive Species, Dyslexia, In an Ecesis Far Far Away, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, John Pruett, Joyce Dalley, Kathy Pelzel, Milam County Master Naturalists, Milam County Nature Festival, Rockdale Intermediate School, Susan Boyd