Loading…
Join the Texas Children in Nature network at the annual Summit and Champions Luncheon. The Summit will bring together leaders from the conservation, education, health, faith and built-environments to share best practices and new innovations that will inspire others to take action.

Texas Children in Nature (TCiN) is a program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TCiN supports the network of over 500 partner organizations who are dedicated to creating equitble access to nature for children and families. Research shows that children who learn and play in nature are healthier, happier and smarter. Join us this year at the Summit and find out why Texas continues to lead the children in nature movement to connect over 3 million children with nature each year. 

Location:  Holiday Inn Corpus Christi Downtown Marina, 707 North Shoreline Boulevard, Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Register for this event by clicking on the Ticket button below. Once you are registered you can manage your schedule and networking events.

Registration includes: Access to all sessions, breakfast on Dec. 6 & 7 and access to the Champions Luncheon.

Sign up or log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Thursday, December 6
 

7:30am

Breakfast / Networking
Please come and enjoy a breakfast taco buffet and network with your friends from around the state. 

Thursday December 6, 2018 7:30am - 8:00am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

8:00am

Welcome
Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Bristol

Jennifer Bristol

Coordinator, Texas Children In Nature
Jennifer Bristol is the coordinator for the Texas Children in Nature Network, which brings the conservation, health, and education communities together to connect children and families to nature.  She is the former Program Director for Camp Fire Central Texas where she developed... Read More →
avatar for George Bristol

George Bristol

http://aapra.org/pugsley-bios/george-l-bristol


Thursday December 6, 2018 8:00am - 8:10am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

8:10am

Making the Impact of Nature on Children Politically Relevant
Speakers
avatar for Dr. John Crompton

Dr. John Crompton

Professor, Texas A&M University
AwardsRecipient of the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Research Award (NRPA)NRPA Distinguished Professional AwardNRPA National Literary AwardTTRA Travel Research AwardNational Park Foundation's Cornelius Amory Pugsley MedalThe SPRE Distinguished Colleague and Teaching AwardsTRAPS... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 8:10am - 9:15am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

9:30am

Driving Change Through Community Engagement
Driving Change through Community Engagement The Children & Nature Network convenes and trains young leaders, municipal leaders, and grassroots leaders in effective community engagement as a method for creating equitable access to nature. Through an the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) model, we emphasize the building of relationships in order to gain trust, develop community knowledge, and engender a sense of empowerment to bring about change. Learn from case studies of cities who have effectively co-created plans for equitable access to nature with youth and residents, develop an understanding of the ABCD principles and apply the principles with handy resources to inventory your community and create programs and strategies that are co-produced by you and the populations you seek to engage. The session is a mix of presentation, group discussion, and exercises that utilize C&NN co-developed community engagement tools and resources.

Speakers
avatar for Monica Lopez Magee

Monica Lopez Magee

director, cities and nature, Children & Nature Network
Monica is dedicated to developing programs, policies, and partnerships that advance equity, academic achievement, and children’s health while fostering a love and stewardship of the natural world. She currently serves as the Director of Cities and Nature for the Children & Nature... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Padre Island C

9:30am

Outdoor Educating in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster
In an ever changing environment, it is vital to be prepared for the worst.  How would you continue to reach your target audiences if your facility is damaged, inaccessible, or closed?  How would you continue to reach your target audience while they are also recovering from natural disaster related damages?  Join The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Mission Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Rockport Fulton ISD as we explore the challenges of continuing educational programming in the aftermath of a natural disaster.   We will also briefly share some of the unique stories of our facilities and programming before and after Hurricane Harvey.

Speakers
avatar for Martha McLeod

Martha McLeod

5th grade science lab instructor, Aransas County ISD
NP

Nicole Poulson

Education Specialist, The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve
avatar for Amanda Taylor

Amanda Taylor

Education Specialist and R/V Katy Naturalist, The University of Texas Marine Science Institute and The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve


Thursday December 6, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Marina View

9:30am

Getting Your Feet Wet - Aquatic and Natural Resources Youth Education Opportunities
There are a variety of modalities to engage youth in natural resources education – from classroom lessons and field activities to multi-day camps.  This session will provide an overview of current efforts in the aquatic realm, and how you and/or your organization can create new programs, collaborate in current programs, and campaign for statewide youth to become involved.  Programs highlighted are Texas Wildlife Association’s Discovery Trunks and Trinity River Watershed Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Angler Education Program, Texas Brigades’ Youth Leadership Programs, and Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited’s Youth Trout Camp.  Programs are supported by partner organizations such as Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, along with hundreds of statewide volunteers.

Speakers
DG

Dakus Geeslin

Policy and Education Program Team Leader, Coastal Fisheries Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,
KM

Karen Marks

Aquatic Education Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept
Karen Marks is Aquatic Education Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The program goals are to increase participation in recreational fishing, and uses a volunteer train-the-trainer model to teach fishing to youth and adults – these volunteers along with a small staff... Read More →
avatar for Kassi Scheffer

Kassi Scheffer

Director of Education - Outreach Programs, Texas Wildlife Association
Kassi Scheffer is the Director of Education - Outreach Programs for the Texas Wildlife Association.  Since joining TWA in 2008, she has been working to increase the capacity of their statewide stewardship programs to include Discovery Trunks of hands-on materials and resources, live... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Padre Island B

9:30am

Using Nature to Activate Learning on Your School Campus
Nature is an effective teaching tool and it is often a neglected part of a child’s formal learning experience and more and more it is even a neglected part of their up-bringing. Join the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Partners for Education, Agriculture and Sustainability (PEAS) to learn a multitude of ways to connect children to nature on your school grounds and engage them in effective learning across the curriculum. We will share successful statewide examples of how teachers are using the natural world to make learning meaningful, relevant and fun while also helping students grow socially and emotionally and achieve high standards academically. Think TEKS. Think Outdoors. Realize Success. Realize Wonder and Awe!

Speakers
avatar for Marya Fowler

Marya Fowler

Director of Education - Outreach Programs, National Wildlife Federation, South Central Region
avatar for Lauren Zappone Maples

Lauren Zappone Maples

Executive Director, (PEAS) Partners for Education Agriculture and Sustainability
Lauren Zappone Maples is the co-founder and Executive Director of PEAS (Partners for Education, Agriculture, and Sustainability), a nonprofit operating in Austin, TX.  PEAS educators partners directly with teachers and their classes in local schools by leading outdoor lessons that... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Padre Island A

9:30am

Taking Autism Outdoors
Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders, referred to by some as an “epidemic”. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 1 in 68 kids falls within the Autism spectrum. Taking Autism Outdoors (TAO) is an afterschool "camp" that took place in local parks over 10 sessions in Spring 2018. It was designed to provide data on the mental, social, and physical benefits of nature on kids with autism. It also sought to provide an easily replicable template for others interested in offering similar programs, to create a stewardship ethic and love for the outdoors in the lives of participants and their families, and to introduce families to free, safe parks close to home in hopes they will continue to regularly spend time in nature. This session will provide a basic 10-session program template/resources, tips on collaborating with local school districts, a synopsis of successes and lessons learned (there were alot), and reassurance and guidance to those interested in working with special needs populations. Plans for TAO camp for Fall 2018, the value of meetup groups, and greatest achievement of the program - friendships - will also be discussed.

Speakers
avatar for Liz Geisler

Liz Geisler

District Special Education Instructional Specialist, East Central ISD
Education is Liz's second career and she has been with ECISD for all of her 10+ years in service. She gets to spend her days supporting teachers who serve students receiving special education services, Pre-K to graduation. She appreciates the creative, open minds at EC which allow... Read More →
avatar for Niki Lake

Niki Lake

Education Manager, Audubon Texas / Mitchell Lake Audubon Center


Thursday December 6, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Padre Island D

10:45am

Creating Natural Connections: Building and Bonding
Through a series of partner and team activities, participants will investigate and explore various aspects of the natural world. These activities will be linked to environmental studies lessons and will accommodate multiple learning styles to excite participants. Thought provoking reflection cues will be used to enhance the discussion and to empower the participants' personal agency. A professional team building facilitator and outdoor educator will guide the discussions using Socratic technique and sentence stems. Participants will compare and contrast natural structures and forms and use metaphor as a means to explore connection to nature, self, other participants, as well as diversity and commonalities within populations and the world at large.

Speakers
PO

Patrick Olsen

Parks Program Coordinator, Lower Colorado River Authority
Patrick Olsen loves ideas that inspire.  He loves to create new connections for people and feels inspired to share his love for the Earth.  Patrick is a program coordinator for LCRA Parks, and also manages the team building program.  He holds a degree in psychology, and spends... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 10:45am - 11:00am
Padre Island C

10:45am

How to Institutionalize Outdoor Learning
This session will focus on how to support the institutionalization of Outdoor learning within a school district and City.  We will dive into how you can successfully establish relationships and leverage the strengths of various partners.  Case studies will focus on the Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Pharr- San Juan- Alamo ISD, and The National Wildlife Federation and the successes and challenges that have been faced in creating a groundwork for connecting children to nature.  

Speakers
avatar for Marya Fowler

Marya Fowler

Director of Education - Outreach Programs, National Wildlife Federation, South Central Region
avatar for Anne Muller

Anne Muller

STEM Team, AISD
Anne Muller is the Outdoor Learning Specialist for the Austin Independent School District. She works to connect children to nature through supporting the district curriculum, facilities use for green schoolyard features, professional development, field trips to the district demonstration... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 10:45am - 11:45am
Marina View

10:45am

Virtually Wild Texas! A Tech Bridge to Wildlife and Conservation Careers
Connecting children to nature has many barriers. One of the greatest barriers is the proliferation of technology. This has led many environmental educators to complete eschew the use of technology when teaching about nature. Yet, there are appropriate and constructive uses of technology to link an increasingly indoor population of students. This presentation will explore the Virtually Wild Texas! program which is co-delivered by The Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Katy Prairie Conservancy, and Region IV Educational Resources Center. This program presents live from the field programs for elementary students across Texas and focuses on wildlife stories and careers in conservation. Each episode is both TEKS-correlated and interactive and lasts 45-minutes (and also includes pre and post-session activities and resources). During this summit presentation we will discuss the uses of technology in the TCiN movement, how we deliver the Virtually Wild Texas program, how this program fits into the goals of its partnering groups, and our aims for the program.

Speakers
avatar for Jaime González

Jaime González

Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Jaime González serves as the Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas (TNC). He is part of TNC's new North America Cities Network, which is working collaboratively, with a diverse suite of partners, to create healthier cities, safeguard biodiversity... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 10:45am - 11:45am
Padre Island B

10:45am

The Most Accessible Camp in the World
The journey of the Austin YMCA Camp Moody: From raising the funds to facility design, something to chew on and something for everyone! Come learn about our plans for the newest (and most accessible) urban YMCA camp in the world from a financial, geographic and physical standpoint. We'll share how we're improving access to nature through built environments and how public/private partnerships have paved the way to make this possible. Learning from our  Conservation and Management Plan will be shared and advice solicited from the audience!
The YMCA of Austin is a $28M non-profit located in the Austin, Texas area. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the YMCA is addressing critical community issues such as drowning prevention and childhood obesity. With eight full-facilities and over 20 community program sites, the YMCA of Austin is the largest YMCA in the country without an overnight camp. Beginning in 1999 with the donation of 100 acres of land, a fundraising campaign was launched in 2015 after extensive market and feasibility studies to develop the case and scope for the project. After engaging hundreds of stakeholders, significant community leaders, and project partners, the YMCA is poised to complete fundraising in 2019 and open fully to the community in 2020.

Speakers
LA

Luke Austenfeld

Luke Austenfeld graduated from Emporia State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Education and a major in Art. Luke received his Masters of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Non Profit Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College in... Read More →
avatar for Megan Arnold, CFRE

Megan Arnold, CFRE

Sr. Director of Development, YMCA of Austin
Megan is an experienced development professional with a demonstrated history of working in the Nonprofit sector. Megan has seventeen years experience with the YMCA, eight of those years working in Development helping to connect peoples passions and their philanthropic dollars with... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 10:45am - 11:45am
Padre Island A

10:45am

Making Nature a Health Care Strategy
The concept of connecting time in nature with better physical and mental health is one of the hallmarks of this movement. But how well are we engaging the healthcare community and how well are we communicating the health benefits to different audiences? Most of us aren't in the health care field, but don't be intimated--healthcare professionals are likely more receptive than you may think and there are straightforward health messages that we can use to raise awareness, find new allies, and advance the movement. More research than ever before now documents the health benefits for children and families who spend time outside and in nature. After an overview of successes and approaches from around the country, participants will roll up their sleeves and help strategize ready-to-implement state and local actions to elevate nature as a health care strategy.

Speakers
avatar for Nancy Herron

Nancy Herron

Board Member, C&NN and TCiN Board
Nancy Herron is a co-founder of TCiN and a board member of both Texas Children in Nature and the Children and Nature Network. She is co-chairing C&NN's health action strategy with Dr. Stephen Pont. Nancy retired after 23 years at Texas Parks and Wildlife and serving as their Outreach... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Stephen Pont

Dr. Stephen Pont

Office of Science and Population Health, Department of State Health Services
After nearly a decade of practicing general pediatrics in primarily Spanish speaking safety net clinics, co-founding Dell Children’s childhood obesity center, and serving as the Medical Director for Austin Independent School District, Dr. Pont joined the Texas Department of State... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 10:45am - 11:45am
Padre Island D

11:05am

Viva Las Vistas!
AmeriCorps is a federally-funded program whose goal is to fight poverty in the United States. AmeriCorps’s approach to doing so can take several forms, but this session will discuss the VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) program. A VISTA member takes pride in enhancing indirect community service such as long-term community development and growth, outreach, and partnership collaboration. Within the Texas Children in Nature community and State Parks, VISTAs explore how creating a positive connection with nature helps individuals rise out of poverty. In this presentation, we will highlight some of the VISTA projects that exemplify this mission.

Speakers
avatar for Kenneth Saintonge

Kenneth Saintonge

VISTA, Texas Parks and Wildlife- VISTA
avatar for Walter Stankiewicz

Walter Stankiewicz

AmeriCorps - VISTA, Texas Parks and Wildlife- VISTA
AmeriCorps is a federally-funded program that finds solutions to alleviate poverty in the United States. AmeriCorps’s approach to doing so can take several forms, but this session will discuss the VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) program at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 11:05am - 11:20am
Padre Island C

11:25am

The Magic of Mentoring and Outdoor Experiences
The Explore Austin program equips underserved youth with the life skills needed to succeed through team-based mentoring program components that take place in an outdoor adventure environment. This session will demonstrate how the Explore Austin program has successfully recruited and engaged local volunteers who have committed to a six-year role as a Mentor.  From annual Mentor Summits that provide skills-based trainings and resources for all of the Mentors, to how we promote the Mentor program. and identify qualified, dedicated Mentors who will become the core of the program and Explore Austin experience. We will also share tips on how we have creatively tapped into the natural resources and outdoor spaces to develop a rich, adventure-based program that has monthly activities and a weeklong annual Summer Wilderness Trip that will take the 270 Explorers and 90 Mentors thru National and/or State Parks in six states. In this session, Explore Austin will also teach its techniques for the two main components of the Explore program – the first of which are monthly adventures called “Saturday Challenges” for the Explore Teams which help build skills and expose the youth to the wonders & benefits of nature while imparting specific curriculum goals and life skills. Each school year, Explore Austin coordinates Monthly Saturday Challenges for the eighteen Explore Teams which connects Explorers and Mentors thru local outdoor adventures. The second component is a weeklong Summer Wilderness Trip that combines all the outdoor skills practiced throughout the year into one rugged, backcountry adventure. Every activity allows our highly trained Mentors to implement Explore Austin’s ACES leadership framework that teaches Explorers to be Action-Oriented, Courageous, Excellent Teammates, and Strong Communicators. These are the skills that equip youth to navigate not only the rocky landscape of the outdoors, but also the unpredictable terrain of life.

Speakers
JF

James Faerber

Program Director, Explore Austin


Thursday December 6, 2018 11:25am - 11:40am
Padre Island C

11:45am

Champions Awards Luncheon
Winners of the Texas Children in Nature Champions of Children in Nature:
Health: 
Department of State Health Services (DSHS): For their Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE!) Texas initiative to improve the outdoor spaces of childcare centers to facilitate more active play and increase a child’s connection with nature. DSHS brings together other state agencies and non-profits to engage childcare centers, landscape designers, and the community to offer trainings and technical advice to improve children’s health and wellness through an increased connection with nature.
Education: 
Flour Bluff Independent School District: For their outstanding work to engage students with conservation education via the Junior Master Naturalist, Citizen Science programs, Birding Clubs, and Nature Clubs. The district embraces learning outdoors with natural classrooms and play areas that connect students, teachers, and the surrounding community to local nature.
Community: 
Coastal Bend Bays Foundation: For their efforts to bring the community together at events such as Earth Day, Bay Day, Adopt-a-Beach and other programs that highlight the value of the Coastal Bend ecosystems. CBBF programs give children and families a sense of place through a connection with the near-by nature.
Access: 
City of Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department: For providing equitable access to the outdoors at over 190 parks, with a special focus on a connection with natural areas at the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center, Hans & Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge and Blucher Park. Programs at the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve provide children and families a chance understand the wildlife and ecosystems they live with.


Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Bristol

Jennifer Bristol

Coordinator, Texas Children In Nature
Jennifer Bristol is the coordinator for the Texas Children in Nature Network, which brings the conservation, health, and education communities together to connect children and families to nature.  She is the former Program Director for Camp Fire Central Texas where she developed... Read More →
avatar for Rodney Franklin

Rodney Franklin

Division Director for State Parks, Texas Parks and Wildlife- State Parks
Rodney Franklin is the Director for State Parks. Rodney started his career with TPWD working as a seasonal employee at a small historic site in Paris, Texas – the Sam Bell Maxey House. After graduating from Texas A&M, he went on to manage that site and was later promoted to Lake... Read More →
avatar for Haily Summerford

Haily Summerford

Executive Director, Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center
avatar for Gail Sutton

Gail Sutton

Associate Director for Institutional Initiatives, Finance and Administration, Harte Research Institute


Thursday December 6, 2018 11:45am - 1:15pm
Texas Riviera Ballroom

1:45pm

How to Encourage Synaptic Activity with Nature: Lessons Learned from The Parish School
Located in Houston, The Parish School has educated children ages 2-12 who have communication delays and learning differences since 1983. In June of 2018, the newest addition to their campus, Little Acorn Park, an outdoor learning environment, was completed. Through a case study of The Parish School’s Little Acorn Park, Meade Mitchell (Principal with landscape architecture firm TBG Partners) and Terri Garth (Director of Integrated Arts and Sciences at The Parish School) will walk session attendees step-by-step through the effort involved with creating a nature-focused Outdoor Learning Environment for the school.  Meade and Terri will discuss key takeaways and lessons learned, encompassing the entire process of bringing Little Acorn Park to life; from the initial fundraising phase, through consensus building, to master planning and detailed design, through contractor selection and implementation of the project. Attendees will learn invaluable tips for how to bring outdoor learning environments to their city, school or local park.  

Speakers
avatar for Terri Garth

Terri Garth

Director of Integrated Arts and Sciences, The Parish School
avatar for Meade Mitchell

Meade Mitchell

Principal, TBG Partners
A Principal landscape architect based in TBG’s Houston office, Meade Mitchell has more than 20 years’ experience working on a wide range of project types throughout the design and construction processes. He provides steady leadership for his teams and manages multifaceted projects... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Pardre Island B

1:45pm

Texas Alliance for America's Fish and Wildlife
Nature education and outdoor recreation programs are often on a shoestring budget, with little long-term certainty.  Despite their importance, where is the real, tangible financial support for these programs? New legislation has emerged that could provide transformative changes in how these programs are funded.  It would also mean transformative change for the landscape, and fish and wildlife populations. This bipartisan bill, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, aims to address our nation’s declining wildlife crisis by providing dedicated funding for conservation, education, and recreation.  The Texas conservation community could receive more than $63 million annually to recover declining wildlife and their habitats, improve nature education, and promote/enhance nonconsumptive outdoor recreation. Passage of this bill would be a game changer in helping us realize our shared vision of healthy Texas communities and families who benefit from the full host of services nature and biodiversity provides us.  A combined 30% of this annual funding could be used for conservation education and outdoor recreation programs which increase connections with, and access to, wildlife and their habitats. From pocket prairies, wild urban spaces, and neighborhood nature, to new outdoor learning environments, recreation and citizen science opportunities -- please join us to learn more about this landmark opportunity, the types of programs that could be implemented and expanded through the Texas Children in Nature Network, and how your organization can support the national movement.

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Bristol

Jennifer Bristol

Coordinator, Texas Children In Nature
Jennifer Bristol is the coordinator for the Texas Children in Nature Network, which brings the conservation, health, and education communities together to connect children and families to nature.  She is the former Program Director for Camp Fire Central Texas where she developed... Read More →
RH

Richard Heilbrun

Conservation Outreach Program Leader, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Richard Heilbrun is the Conservation Outreach Program Leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  He is a wildlife biologist by training, and has worked throughout the state on projects that conserve wildlife, manage wildlife habitat, and help people connect with natural resources... Read More →
RR

Rachel Rommel

Statewide Coordinator, Texas Alliance for America's Fish and Wildlife
Rachel credits a combination of childhood and adult experiences, special places & people, and continued education as key determinants for her personal connection to nature & wildlife. In her role as the Statewide Coordinator for the Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Padre Island D

1:45pm

Engaging pre-K kids and Their Parents in Outdoor Exploration – at the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve
We began a weekly morning Growing up Wild program at our learning center.  Structurally it was simple to plan as the well-constructed curriculum is already written. Our modification was that we required the parents to participate.  We did not use it as a half day ‘mother’s day out” program, instead we made it dual function to engage the kids and work with the adults as co-instructors.   The program is an incredible success.  We expanded the times to include an afternoon session on the same day to accommodate demand.  Now we are discussing if we’ll add an entire day to the program next year.  The key to our program is that I try to address the adults as much as the kids.  If we play a game, the parents are always part of the game as the predators or prey.  When we catch grasshoppers, they work with their child.  When we do crafts, while we keep them age appropriate, a step might require the parents.  The curriculum comes with home connections sheets, which we edit and make into at home follow-up activities and encourage them to share their completed activities next week.  The whole idea is to get a kid interested in the natural world AND to mentor the parent as their long-term instructor with a foundation of how to explore and enjoy the outdoors with their kid.  I would like to share with you  the successes and challenges of our program.  As a broader discussion we will explore the ideas of introducing families with little outdoor experience to outdoor play.  What are the barriers?  How can we address their concerns and build a value of nature in families with little prior nature connection?

Speakers
avatar for Caleb Harris

Caleb Harris

Education Coordinator, Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve
I was almost sad one day, but I decided to be awesome instead. True story


Thursday December 6, 2018 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Padre Island A

1:45pm

Exploring Nature Connection Through Research: The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
The Meadows Center is headquartered at Spring Lake on the Texas State University Campus – an environmentally, culturally and archaeologically significant resource which serves as a living laboratory, community center and irreplaceable educational resource. We engage approximately 32,000 school children annually in outdoor experiential education programs. This session will highlight three exciting educational research projects that are currently underway at The Meadows Center. These research initiatives are innovative and inspiring as they explore and inform nature connection in children and young adults. Exploring mindfulness in environmental interpretation: Mindfulness is a theoretical, conceptual and practical way to understand and engage with interpretation. Mindfulness practice facilitates heightened noticing and awareness of one’s self and surroundings. Connection to the environment through novel distinction is central to effective interpretation. This study employs mindfulness interventions with environmental interpreters. The purpose of the research is to explore and understand the relationship between mindfulness, nature connection and interpretation. Connecting Interest in and Awareness of the Environment with an Informal Experience Solving global environmental problems will require more people pursuing STEM careers to discover solutions and a scientifically literate society that is interested in and values the environment. The purpose of this study is to test the effect of participation in an informal learning environment on college students’ interest in science by looking at the impact of a glass-bottom boat tour has on a student’s interest in science, interest in STEM careers, and environmental awareness. Children’s Perceptions of Nature Through Maps and Map Making Our newest educational field trip activity, called Mapping the Meadows, looks at the children’s perceptions of nature and their understanding of spatio-temporal characteristics of maps through the maps they create of their field trip.  These maps are the largest data set of their kind and are a part of our research data hub.

Speakers
RD

Rob Dussler

Chief Education Officer, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
MW

Miranda Wait

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environmen


Thursday December 6, 2018 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Padre Island C

1:45pm

Slow Down, Look Around, Capture the Moment
In our fast paced world it is rare that we take a moment to slow down and truly appreciate the beauty around us.  During this hands-on session participants will take time to examine the natural world and learn how to use a variety of art mediums including watercolor painting, pencil drawing, nature journaling, print making and digital photography to capture the moment.  This session is designed as an outside watercolor program.   Participants will leave the session with a postcard watercolor painting.  Our painting session begins with a line drawing defining the horizon line and a few natural elements that we observe around us such as flowers, trees, grass or water.  We will use watercolor painting techniques such as dry brush, wet graded wash, wet-in-wet watercolor technique, flat color wash and lifting excess paint off the picture to create our 10 minute postcard.  Using this process participants leave with a memento of their time in a park or natural area.  This is a great activity for families and youth programs.  

Speakers
LR

Lisa Reznicek

State Park Interpreter, TPWD


Thursday December 6, 2018 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Marina View

3:00pm

Living Playgrounds
This workshop focuses on the importance of natural playgrounds (Why, What, How) as well as the selection and placement of plant material that will support purposeful play and design while maximizing educational principles needed for any playground. Choosing plant material tends to be overlooked or discounted during the design process but it’s an important feature for any outdoor space. Participants will learn the what, where and why of planting shrubs, trees and soft plantings in the playground.  The right vegetation provides shade, opportunities for play, engages our senses, assists with the flow of traffic and provides an inviting space to gather and connect.  Join us for a hands-on workshop that will reinforce the importance of good, sound, design principles.  Thoughtful placement of plant material will support the maintenance and success needed for all playgrounds.

Speakers
avatar for Jeff Lindstrom

Jeff Lindstrom

Creative Director / Senior Designer, BIENENSTOCK NATURAL PLAYGROUNDS
As the Creative Director and Senior Designer at Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, Jeff is an energetic and knowledgeable designer with a diverse background in comprehensive planning/design and child development, and nature-based play spaces. Jeff’s work has brought him around the... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Padre Island D

3:00pm

Opportunities Within TPWD
Participants will hear panelists discuss opportunities for participation in a variety of TPWD programs. Where applicable, panelists will describe certifications that will make possible greater participation as well as allow participants to teach others how to become more involved in the outdoors and in activities requiring outdoor skills. Specifically, panelists will discuss how one can:
-Become an Angler, Boater, and/or Hunter Educator,
-Become a Project Wild trained teacher or workshop facilitator,
-Learn to camp and/or teach others how through our Texas Outdoor Family program
-Become a Texas State Park Ambassador,
-Become a Texas Waters Specialist, and
-Receive trained and/or certified in Archery    
- Get involved with TCiN and use Nature Rocks Texas


Speakers
avatar for Kendrick Gray

Kendrick Gray

Community Archery Training Specialist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept
avatar for Johnnie Smith

Johnnie Smith

Director of Outreach and Education, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept
LT

Louisa Torrance

Ambassador Program Coordinator, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Padre Island A

3:00pm

Collaboration and Community in Urban Green Spaces
Collaboration can lead to great outcomes, especially when it involves community, nature, outdoor education, and health. In 2016, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center and Travis Audubon partnered to activate Travis Audubon's 10-acre nature sanctuary in East Austin, a historically underserved part of the city. Their idea focused on providing nature experiences to the predominantly Hispanic and African-American communities that surround the Blair Woods Nature Preserve. The two organizations submitted their plan to the Call for Ideas program at the Center for Place-Based Initiatives (CPBI), an organization at the Dell Medical School that works to find local solutions to local problems. The Call for Ideas program focuses on community-sourced ways to improve health. The program’s review team, composed of community members, and faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin, UT’s Dell Medical School, and UT School of Public Health, selected the Blair Woods revitalization plan for project development. CPBI, Travis Audubon, and Westcave worked to activate the space in several ways. CPBI and Travis Audubon developed relationships with community members and organizations. They held Family Nature Days to introduce the community to the sanctuary and educate them about Texas wildlife and ecology. They used a built environment assessment and led walking focus groups to make decisions about revitalizing the space for community use. Westcave engaged nearby elementary schools and adapted afterschool and summer camp programming for the students at the nature preserve.  This session will tell the story of building community, working to activate a green space in an urban area, partnering with nearby schools, and what each partner gained from the collaboration.

Speakers
avatar for Nitakuwa Barrett

Nitakuwa Barrett

Program Manager, Dell Medical School
avatar for Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens

Executive Director and CEO, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
avatar for Caley Zuzula

Caley Zuzula

Program and Education Coordinator, Travis Audubon Society


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Texas Riviera Ballroom

3:00pm

Engaging Community Partnerships for K-8th Grade Student Nature Experiences
San Antonio TCiN partners are innovating with their program, Project A.C.O.R.N. (Area Children Organized to Replant Natives). In this session you will learn about the program, how it is adapted at each campus, community collaborations and the technology tools students use to collect environmental data on and off campus. Project ACORN is a place-based, interdisciplinary environmental education program. It is standards based and incorporates TEKS from science, social studies, and math. In various districts it is being used at the elementary and middle schools. Project ACORN is giving the tools to students to become citizen scientists and stewards of earth’s natural resources for life which is hands-on and highly engaging for students and teachers, while also involving the greater community. Project ACORN depends on community partners and this session will also discuss how some of those partnerships were developed, have evolved and how each entity benefits.

Speakers
PC

Peggy Carnahan

Our Lady of the Lake University
Peggy Carnahan has devoted her career to the teaching of science and the teaching of science teachers. A former science teacher at Jay High School and secondary science supervisor for the District, Carnahan served Northside for more than 20 years. Her contributions to the District... Read More →
avatar for Amalia Sollars

Amalia Sollars

Northside ISD/CCCN San Antonio
Amalia Sollars describes her job as "getting to help awesome teachers keep being awesome.” As Northside ISD's Project ACORN Coordinator she works to support teachers who sponsors this place based environmental education program on over 30 campuses. She has a B.S. in Environmental... Read More →


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Padre Island B

3:00pm

There’s Nature in My Nature - Campus Nature Clubs
There’s Nature in my Nature! Getting students scientifically enriched through a Nature Club at your campus. Are you Curious? Are you full of wonder? Are you happiest when you are outside? Would you like to share this with your students? Begin a Nature Club at your campus and you don't even have to be an expert to do it. In Nature Club we come to observe nature and make discoveries. We practice using our senses to make observations, respect plants and animals, and become guardians of the environment.

Speakers
KO

Kimberly Ogden

Teacher, CCISD
avatar for Blyth Swartsfager

Blyth Swartsfager

Teacher, Odem ISD


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Padre Island C

3:00pm

Plays Well With Others: Why Collaboration, Data, and Design Are Vital to Promoting Healthy Communities Through Parks
Local parks and trails provide enormous community health benefits. Their use has been shown to lower stress, blood pressure, and the risk of chronic health issues. In addition to providing opportunities for physical activity, parks strengthen communities by creating social spaces and connecting people to nature. Parks also create healthier environments, combating urban heat islands and improving air quality. Despite this connection, there is a frequent lack of collaboration between experts in the public health field and local park planners, and parks and recreation staff seldom pursue health-focused grants to fund local park development. Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties have some of the highest levels of health disparities in Central Texas. As part of their mission to address the health and equity challenges facing the region, St. David’s Foundation has decided to support local park development and improvements. In order to prioritize the park projects that will have the greatest impact on community health, the foundation funded the Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties. Led by The Trust for Public Land, Asakura Robinson, and TBG Partners, the project will utilize GIS analysis and community and stakeholder input to identify the park investments that will maximize community health and equity. Local experts and stakeholders from the fields of park planning, health, environmental science, and equity have formed a multi-disciplinary Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Team that guide the project's process and results.  Project outcomes will include health-focused design standards for various park typologies, conceptual park designs, a summary report, and an interactive online story map. The Healthy Parks Plan will also develop a web-based decision-support tool that combines park and health data with community perspectives to help local partners identify opportunities for community investment

Speakers
KC

Katie Coyne

Senior Associate Planner, Asakura Robinson Company
avatar for Amy Rampy

Amy Rampy

Senior Associate, TBG Partners
KW

Kristen Weil

The Trust for Public Land


Thursday December 6, 2018 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Marina View

4:15pm

Leading the Texas Children in Nature Movement
Hear from the Texas Children in Nature regional leaders on how they organize their communities to champion the movement.  Each region seeks to find local solutions to the ever growing and changing issues surrounding the disconnection between youth, families and nature.  They will share what projects have been successful, how they over came challenges, and continue to recruit, retain and reactivate their volunteers and community partners. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with regional leadership or consider how to start a regional collaborative in their community. 

Speakers
avatar for Jaime González

Jaime González

Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Jaime González serves as the Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas (TNC). He is part of TNC's new North America Cities Network, which is working collaboratively, with a diverse suite of partners, to create healthier cities, safeguard biodiversity... Read More →
avatar for Marisa Oliva-Rodriguez

Marisa Oliva-Rodriguez

Manager, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands & World Birding Center
TP

Thea Platz

Outdoor Education Director, North East ISD
NP

Nicole Poulson

Education Specialist, The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve
avatar for Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens

Executive Director and CEO, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
avatar for Haily Summerford

Haily Summerford

Executive Director, Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center


Thursday December 6, 2018 4:15pm - 5:15pm
Texas Riviera Ballroom
 
Friday, December 7
 

7:30am

Breakfast / Networking
Please join us for breakfast taco buffet and networking with your regional leaders. 

Friday December 7, 2018 7:30am - 8:30am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

8:30am

Connecting to the TCiN Network
Start the morning off with a guided discussion to engage with attendees from your region and from your community of practice. This fast moving networking opportunity will also cover the mission and goals of Texas Children in Nature and help each person understand how they fit into the movement.


Friday December 7, 2018 8:30am - 9:15am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

9:30am

Cities Connecting Children to Nature
Find out how you can better influence change in your city so all children and families have equitable access to nature.  This session will explore the valuable work being done with the Cities Connecting Children to Nature projects in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Participants will hear from leaders in the project, work in small groups to explore ideas, and participate in a larger discussion to come up with tangible actions. We all have the ability to influence how children and families connect with nature in our rapidly growing urban areas.  

Speakers
avatar for Jaime González

Jaime González

Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager, The Nature Conservancy in Texas
Jaime González serves as the Houston Urban Conservation Programs Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas (TNC). He is part of TNC's new North America Cities Network, which is working collaboratively, with a diverse suite of partners, to create healthier cities, safeguard biodiversity... Read More →
avatar for Margaret Lamar

Margaret Lamar

Children & Nature Network
TP

Thea Platz

Outdoor Education Director, North East ISD


Friday December 7, 2018 9:30am - 11:15am
Padre Island B

9:30am

Green School Parks
Green School Parks is an initiative that started with the national Children & Nature Network and is being championed and pioleted in Texas by Austin Independent School District and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The initative rethinks campuses to embrace the idea that learning can happen from sidewalk-to-sidewalk and not just inside the building. Green School Parks also engage the community to rethink the school grounds as park land during out of school time.
This deep dive will learn about the Austin project, then breakout into small groups to discuss opportunities and ideas so participants can take action in their communities.

Speakers
avatar for Melody Alcazar

Melody Alcazar

Program Coordinator - CCCN, City of Austin - Parks & Recreation Department
Melody Alcazar joined the City of Austin - Parks & Recreation Department in July 2018 as the new permanent, full-time coordinator of the CCCN initiative. She has over a decade of experience working to connecting children and families to nature and serves on the Children in Nature... Read More →
PB

Patric Beyer

City of Austin
avatar for Anne Muller

Anne Muller

STEM Team, AISD
Anne Muller is the Outdoor Learning Specialist for the Austin Independent School District. She works to connect children to nature through supporting the district curriculum, facilities use for green schoolyard features, professional development, field trips to the district demonstration... Read More →


Friday December 7, 2018 9:30am - 11:15am
Padre Island C

9:30am

Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE!) Texas
This session will take a deeper dive into the Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE!) Texas project that seeks to improve childcare center.  OLE! Texas is a collaborative effort being lead by the Department of State Health Services  to offers children a daily connection with nature, while also providing spaces for active play that is key to obesity prevention. Through community engagement and collaboration childcare centers can rethink of how children spend their time while in their care.
In this session participants will learn about the project and work in facilitated small groups to explore tangible ideas to share with their communities to help increase the number of centers participating in the movement.

Speakers
avatar for Melissa Alderson

Melissa Alderson

Conservation Education Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife
MB

Michelle Bertelsen

Ecologist, Lady
Michelle Bertelsen oversees the on-site land management research program and provides project management and ecological support to consulting projects. She has experience in ecological restoration, geospatial analysis, including trail suitability analysis, facilitation, ecological... Read More →
KC

Katie Chennisi

Public Health Analyst, Harris County Public Health
Katie Chennisi is a Public Health Analyst at Harris County Public Health (HCPH). Katie oversees various chronic disease prevention activities, including components of the Healthy Living Matters collaborative. Prior to coming to HCPH, Katie was the Coordinator for the Texas Early Childhood... Read More →
LW

Linda Welsh, PhD

President, Child Inc Head Start Board of Directors, Child Inc Head Start
Dr. Linda Welsh serves as the board president for Child Inc, the Austin area Head Start agency. Believing in the value of nature play for young children, Linda is spearheading an effort to create two OLÉ play environments at Child Inc centers with a goal to transform all of the outdoor... Read More →


Friday December 7, 2018 9:30am - 11:15am
Marina View

9:30am

Telling the Story of Nature
Many of us have great programs, amazing staff and wonderful facilities, but how do we get our message to the public? Texas Parks and Wildlife Department social media coordinator and magazine editors share strategies for effective, eye-catching, inspirational communications, both in print and online. Communication always starts with considering your audience and your call to action, which then helps determine word count, imagery and platform. Learn how to tell your story in the most relevant, concise way and how to grab your readers’ attention. Use information graphics and “listicles” to make your information more reader-friendly. Learn what species and places garner the most interest. Drive readers to your website or print publication through social media and blogging.

Speakers
WB

Whitney Bishop

Social Media Coordinator, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Whitney Bishop manages social media for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Under Whitney’s tenure, the agency has developed over 150 social channels with 1 million+ confirmed fans and among the top drivers of traffic to the agency website. Agency social media posts have been... Read More →
avatar for Louie Bond

Louie Bond

Editor, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept
avatar for Russell Roe

Russell Roe

Managing Editor, Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine


Friday December 7, 2018 9:30am - 11:15am
Texas Riviera Ballroom

11:30am

Collaborating for a Nature Rich Future
Friday December 7, 2018 11:30am - 12:00pm
Texas Riviera Ballroom

1:30pm

Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) Grant Workshop
Click here to register for the workshop.
Looking for a way to fund your program to get children in nature? The CO-OP grant might be your answer. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) grant provides funding to tax-exempt organizations for projects that involve under-served populations in environmental, conservation, or outdoor recreation programs.  CO-OP supports such activities as field-investigations, environmental education, hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, fishing, orienteering, geocaching, canoeing/kayaking and outdoor cooking.
In this workshop, CO-OP staff will discuss program requirements, provide an overview of the application process and answer questions from applicants. Workshop is FREE. Grants range $5,000 to $50,000 for a one-year project.  
Workshop: Friday, December 7 
1:30 pm to 4 pm
Marina View Room 
Click here to register for the workshop. 
This workshop is free, but you must click the above link to RSVP. 
 

Speakers
CB

Carly Blankenship

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
CS

Cappy Smith

Coop Grants, TPWD


Friday December 7, 2018 1:30pm - 4:00pm
Marina View