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Sea Center Texas Anniversary | BioBlitz for Citizen Science | Photo Contest Entry | PBS Film Highlights Texas' Parks | Big Bugs Invading Orange

Sea Center Texas Celebrates 20 Years  

By Julie Hagen   

Founded in Lake Jackson in 1996, Sea Center Texas celebrated 20 years of operations as an aquarium and hatchery in March. More than 1.2 million people have passed through Sea Center’s doors since its opening. The center’s size, daily operations and free admission require a large volunteer base to support staff.

This year’s annual banquet honored these volunteers, including seven who have served since the beginning. Two volunteers have even worked the same Thursday afternoon shift together since 1996 — and have no plans of quitting anytime soon.

Volunteers of all ages come to Sea Center to not only give back to their community but also to have a little fun. While their primary mission is to educate visitors about marine life and the Gulf of Mexico, they forge many human connections as well. The greeters, tour guides and gift shop attendants are whom the visitors remember long after their visit is complete. They are the true face of the organization.


BioBlitz for Citizen Science

By Cullen Hanks

Celebrate the first nationally recognized Citizen Science Day by participating in a BioBlitz at Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park in Austin on April 16 and 17. The public is welcome to join in at any point during the day (the park is open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.), but the best time to arrive is between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Introductions and expert-led walks start at 9 a.m. You can meet members of different naturalist groups and learn about what is being documented at the park. At 1 p.m. there’s a discussion on the different habitats of Commons Ford and the notable species documented during the event.

Learn about local biodiversity and discover how you can contribute by reporting your observations. Meet experts from the Travis Audubon Society, Native Plant Society of Texas, Texas Master Naturalists, Native Prairies Association of Texas, Austin Herpetological Society, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and TPWD’s Texas Nature Trackers program.
Check out the BioBlitz page at inaturalist.org/projects/bioblitz-at-commons-ford.


Photo Contest Invites Entries

By Lydia Saldaña

This year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) is commemorating 25 years of supporting conservation projects across the state. A yearlong photo contest is part of the celebration, and you can be part of it by sharing your best outdoor photographs.

Winning photos will be featured on TPWF’s website and social media channels and the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine website. A different theme will be featured each month. April’s theme is freshwater fishing, and entries will be accepted until April 25. Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine chief photographer Earl Nottingham will select the winners and provide photo tips to the winning photographers. Winners will also receive a special prize from our sponsors and partners.

In early 2017, a selection of the best photos will be published in the pages of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Find out more about the contest at tpwf.org.


PBS Film Highlights Texas' National Parks

Texas is home to 16 National Park Service sites, and those special places are the featured attractions in the new PBS documentary The National Parks of Texas: In Contact With Beauty.

The film marks the centennial of the National Park Service and highlights the natural, cultural, historic and recreational significance of national parks in Texas. It will air April 26 on PBS stations across
the state.

Big Bend National Park was the first Texas site to become part of the National Park Service; others that followed include Padre Island National Seashore, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and Big Thicket National Preserve. In 2015, Waco Mammoth National Monument became the latest addition.

“Our country’s national parks are a remarkable achievement, preserving spectacular landscapes, special pieces of our shared history and unique species,” says Kierstan Schwab, Texas PBS executive director. “We are proud to have the opportunity to bring to our viewers this amazing celebration of the parks that are right here in Texas, right in our own backyards.”


'Big Bugs' Invading Orange

By Emily Moskal

The oversized fun of David Rogers’ Big Bugs will be featured at Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange through May 28. The exhibit includes 10 sculptures of larger-than-life insects and arachnids made from all-natural materials. After you check out the exhibit, stroll over to the Stark Museum of Art for a companion “Bugs” exhibit featuring Rogers’ behind-the-scenes work, an exhibition of rare natural history books and juried bug art by Texas students.

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