CORPUS CHRISTI – If you’re looking for a fun, family activity to finish out the summer, check out this year’s Texas Nature Challenge.
The nature challenge is run by the Texas Forestry Service at the state level. Here in the coastal bend, it’s hosted by the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center.
There are 28 different challenges this year, and all of them are family-oriented activities.
“Everything from beach cleanups, to a couple different kinds of scavenger hunts and nature journaling that one of the sites is teaching,” said Sara Jose, director of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve. “One of the state parks is teaching how to use your cell phone to identify wildlife. The Conny Hager sanctuary in Rockport is going to talk about how to plant your own butterfly garden, and highlight some of their plants.
Some families just focus on earning digital badges for every challenge they complete, but others go all out and document every challenge in a big album.
Jose says her favorite piece of feedback was from a Corpus Christi mom who was born here, and couldn’t wait to move somewhere else.
“She’s like ‘You know, we’ve been saving and working to move out of Corpus Christi, and then I did the challenge with my kids and realized how cool it is,’” Jose said. “She ended up becoming a Corpus Christi mom blogger, because she felt like she needed to highlight what was here.”
Participants don’t have to do all 28 challenges; you can pick and choose the ones you want. If you do at least 2, you’ll be eligible for prizes.
“All our participating sites donate prizes. We have things like admission passes to the Texas State Aquarium and the maritime museum,” Jose said. “Often times, we get things like bug nets and coloring books and field guides that can help you continue to explore.
Jose says the two main goals of the challenge are to create some quality family activities and to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the environment.
“The Coastal Bend is a really diverse spot with our beaches and bays, our upland prairies. The challenges go all the way to Lake Corpus Christi, which supplies our drinking water as well as natural space for alligators and other things. There’s so much that lives here, Jose said. “We like to talk about polar bears and the Amazon, but you know, we live in a really cool part of the world, and we’d like to help people see what that looks like.”
If you’re interested, there are several ways to sign up. You can do it online at naturechallenge.tamu.edu or you can attended the opening ceremonies this Saturday at Camp Aranzazu at 5420 Loop 1781 in Rockport.