Fun with Fishes at Sea Center Texas

November 14th, 2019
Sea Center Texas

Sea Center Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Located in Lake Jackson, Sea Center Texas is a marine aquarium, fish hatchery and education center providing creative learning opportunities throughout the year.

Right now, the main educational opportunity that we have are Summer Camps. This year were doing “Wonderful Wetlands,” where they’ll go to dip-net and learn all about the species that live out there. And then, we have “Aquaria-mania, where they will learn what it’s like to work at an aquarium and, they will get to take a behind-the-scenes tour.

We spoke with Juliana Moore this past summer, before the camp started. She is an information specialist at the center.

We have three public fishing events during the year. There’s one in June one in September and the other one is in February. And, those are youth fishing days so, anyone 17 and younger, accompanied by a parent can come out and fish.

And you can have fun with the fishes this holiday season.

We have a big Santa Clause show and Santa Claus actually scuba dives in the tank. So, one of our volunteers will dress up as Santa and gets in there with his elves and they put on a little Christmas show.

Now that’s something you’ve got to see. you can find more Sea Center events on our website; just click on the Parks tab and select Sea Center.

We record our series at The Block House in Austin, and Joel Block engineers our program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

A Walk on the Wild Side of a Backyard

November 13th, 2019
Amy and Caleb Maxwell

Amy and Caleb Maxwell

This is Passport to Texas

Your backyard is a wild place filled with wild things. To see them, slow down, look and listen. My colleague Randall Maxwell’s children, 17-year-old Amy and 14-year-old Caleb shared their thoughts on backyard nature during a stroll with their dad on the family’s property in Dripping Springs. Here’s Amy.

[Amy] What I like most about being outdoors is the fact that there are just so many creatures out here that are just being themselves—being peaceful. There’s just so much tranquility out there that we’re missing out on just because we don’t spend much time out in nature. Like the creeks nearby our home. I like to walk down to those sometimes and just take a look at all the creatures just flitting around; the little frogs nearby. The little water bugs on top of the creek. What I Find interesting about water it keeps on flowing down to wherever it decided to go. And it’s just really interesting to think about where it could be and what happens to it.

[Caleb] When I’m walking on the trails in nature, I love to think about the origin: when everything got here, you know…

That’s Caleb.

[Caleb] Just seeing all the plants and the rocks and definitely the animals. It’s life…living in this area. That we’re walking on right now. See, we’re wandering here just like they were. They have their own ecosystem and their own community just like us. They just live in the wild while we live in the cities and farms.

Kids say the smartest things…they know Life’s Better Outside.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Passion for Water and Woodworking = New Career

November 12th, 2019
Surfing at South Padre

Surfing at South Padre

This is Passport to Texas

As a kid, Tony Smith loved knowing how things worked and creating with his hands; he also had a passion for water.

We grew up in Houston and so we would go down and go fishing—my brothers, my parents. All the time. We just loved being around the water. Later in life, in college, I started surfing and really fell in love with that. Hence, wanting to build paddleboards and surfboards in the first place.

Today Tony handcrafts paddleboards and surfboards in a warehouse using sustainably harvested wood, reclaimed lumber and recycled foam. He built boards for personal use in his free time while working a finance job he loved. His hobby became a business; he had a foot in each world

I came here on my lunchbreak one day. Did a little bit of work, zipped back to the office, and my Admin said, ‘Dude—you have sawdust all over the back of your suit.’ And I knew then, it’s time to make that decision to go for it and haven’t looked back since.

Now he spends his days handcrafting unique paddle and surf boards, under the name Jarvis Boards. Boards that, help people enjoy their time outdoors.

It’s really taken me aback how much I’ve enjoyed connecting with the individuals that have purchased our boards. And literally seeing on Instagram somebody in California, or Michigan or Switzerland out paddling with their family and making those family memories. It’s really cool for me personally because I feel like I’m a small part of that.

Learn Tony Smith’s story at jarvisboards.com

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wet and Wonderful Paddling Trails

November 7th, 2019
Paddling Lady Bird Lake in Austin

The Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail is approximately 11 miles long and features multiple public access sites and recreational opportunities. The Lady Bird Lake Paddling Trail provides an excellent venue for the novice and experienced paddler alike.

This is Passport to Texas

Nature tourism fostered the development of many trails statewide. On land and water.

Parks and Wildlife has the Texas paddling trails program we kicked off in 2006 with our first inland trail.

Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife

Here we are now in 2019 and we have 76 trails throughout the state of Texas. We have coastal trails, inland trails. Some are on rivers. Some are on ponds or bijous. Some are on bays. We give information about the local canoe and kayak rentals or who provide a shuttle if you have your own. So, we try to make it as easy as possible to get out on the water and enjoy nature from a different perspective.

Canoeing and kayaking offer distinct benefits over traditional hike or bike trails.

Paddling on a trail just gives you a different view of nature. You’re quieter, you’re able to sneak up on the animals a little bit so they don’t fly off as much or run away and you can see things in their natural habitat.

The nature tourism movement has made a positive impact on both rural and urban communities throughout the state

Paddling trails aren’t just at state parks. We have them all over. They require community partners so, they’re in stretches of river outside small towns like Seguin or lulling. Austin has one. San Antonio has one called the Mission Reach and it goes right through the cultural district around the missions.

Find Texas paddling trails on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Variety Defines Nature Tourism

November 6th, 2019
Preparing for a star party, image Chris Oswalt, TPWD

Preparing for a star party, image Chris Oswalt, TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

The term “nature tourism” has evolved to include a diverse range of outdoor activities. Advancements in new tools and technologies enhance the outdoor experience.

Nature tourism is any kind of tourism that allows people to connect with nature and provide economic impact to the local economies of rural communities especially but it can be big cities as well and this would include things as varied as camping, wildlife photography, wildlife viewing and birding, stargazing, any number of things that are a way to connect to nature.

Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife

The things I think are possibly new to nature tourism beyond birding which everyone is fairly familiar with would include wildlife photography and butterflying. I think both of those have become really big. One thing with butterflying is, butterflies stay still, unlike birds. They do flit around but they stay in one area. You can have your field guide right in front of you.

In addition, access to smart phones and apps like iNaturalist allow explorers to snap photos and get immediate help identifying their observations.

Butterflying is easier than birding in many ways and it’s a great introduction to noticing the outside world.

Start planning your next outdoor adventure with the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.