The Rio Brazos Chapter offers the public a variety of opportunities for learning about nature and Texas natural landscapes, expanding knowledge about natural resource ecology and management, and enjoying the outdoors. We host outdoor learning events throughout the year that are free, suitable for all ages, and fun! Some of the more popular services we offer are nature-related educational activities for public and private schools and homeschool students. We also have an exhibit and hands-on touch table that we can staff for community events, and members who can give presentations about the Texas Master Naturalist program or special nature-related topics at meetings of community and civic organizations.
Opportunities for teachers
The chapter’s Education Committee develops and maintains a collection of learning materials for use by members to assist teachers, camp hosts, and others in enhancing children’s knowledge about wildlife, mammals, birds, insects, plants and trees, rocks and fossils, soils, and more. In addition, members can lead nature walks, field investigations, and citizen science activities.
Our volunteers have a variety of presentations that focus on different parts of the natural world. We develop content linked to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) when possible. Presentations may be tailored to number of students, grade level(s), and lesson time available. Our most popular programs have general topics based on grade level with individual activities or lessons. Multiple activities and lessons for a single session are tied together under the general topic. Some of these activities are suitable and/or designed for outdoors. We offer many of our outdoor educational activities at Acton Nature Center. If you would like your program at ANC, please check Policies and Tips for Field Trips at Acton Nature Center (pdf document).
Nature-related educational topics and themes include (but are not limited to):
- Animals in Our Backyard.
- Habitats in Our Backyard.
- Nature hikes: Bird Bingo, Tree Bingo, Nature Bingo, Habitat Bingo.
- Monarch Butterfly programs: Migration, life cycle, tagging, habitats, butterfly symmetry, pollination, ecosystem and environmental Jenga games, puddlers (water sources), and more.
- Earth Day programs: Earth in a Bottle; land, water, and air ecosystems.
- Bird programs: Bird blind habitat, bird games, bird beak adaptations.
- How to attract birds and butterflies to your backyard.
- Insect programs: What is an insect? Insect pollinators, native bees, “Don’t Be Dinner” (how insects avoid being eaten).
- Plant People: Grow a “grasshead” mini-garden with personality.
- Mammals: What is a mammal? Mammal tracks, mammal skulls, and adaptations.
- Rocks, fossils, and soils.
Additional topics may be available or customized to meet your need – just ask!
Submit the Education Assistance Request Form to request nature-related educational assistance in the classroom or with a field trip. (The online form opens in a new window.) You may also contact Valerie Taber email@example.com for more information. Please try to submit assistance requests three months in advance, if possible. For programs early in the school year (fall months), we realize you may not be able to give three months’ advance notice, so please submit your request at your earliest opportunity. Please understand that we need adequate time to line up volunteers and assemble materials and may not be able to meet your need on short notice.
Opportunities for homeschool children
The chapter’s Education Committee hosts a homeschool science program at Acton Nature Center on the first Friday of each month from September through May. Classes are 2-3 hours long and cover nature-related topics, including rocks and soils (Earth science); wildlife, plants, and insects (bioscience); and the night sky (astronomy).
Contact Madison McGlathery firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about and/or participate in this program.
Chapter booth (exhibit and touch table)
The chapter has a booth featuring a backdrop and a touch table. The backdrop shows features of nature, such as birds, butterflies, rocks, flowers, reptiles, and our volunteer activities, including conducting training classes, teaching children, interacting with people at public events, putting up bird boxes, leading nature walks, maintaining butterfly gardens, and more. The touch table holds a variety of items from nature, including seeds, insect specimens, animal skulls, fossils, and more. The touch table engages the sense of touch to spark interest and prompt questions and stories. Chapter members staff the booth, providing information and answering questions about our Rio Brazos Chapter and the Texas Master Naturalist program. The chapter welcomes opportunities to provide outreach with our booth at community events.
A few of our chapter members can give presentations about the Texas Master Naturalist program or special nature-related topics at meetings of community and civic organizations and groups. Availability of speakers and topics is somewhat limited, but we are working on expanding our capacity to provide this service. Depending on the topic and time frame, we may be able to customize a presentation for your group, so please ask.
Contact Tessa Chenoa Ownbey email@example.com or 817-366-3126 about having a Texas Master Naturalist speak at your meeting or event.