HARLINGEN — The summer family nature challenge is ready to kick off for 2017.

The free RGV Family Summer Adventure Challenge this year will be held at 21 nature sites and parks, where families register to perform a series of quests in order to win awards and recognition.

Marisa Oliva, manager of the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center, is coordinator for what will be the fourth annual Valley family challenge. It is affiliated with the Texas Nature Challenge.

“These are fairly general challenges,” Olive said. “What we don’t want is for anybody to be left out.

“If you’re in Brownsville and only get around the Brownsville area, we want to make sure you have something to do there, like an outdoor picnic, take part in a night program, or identify four different bird species,” she said.

The RGV Family Summer Adventure Challenge is different than most such competitions across the state in that it is not site-specific. Instead, here in the Valley, 21 nature sites and parks are participating which gives folks a lot larger pool from which to choose their tasks.

Summer vacations are part of the plan, too.

“It’s not limited if they are traveling this summer,” Oliva said. “They can do challenges at other sites around the country, that counts, too.

“To qualify they have to do four Valley sites, but if they wanted to add in Big Bend or a refuge up north, they can do that, too,” she added.

The kickoff will be May 27, which is when the free competition journals will be available at any of the participating nature sites.

Oliva said families must do 10 or 12 of the challenges to qualify in the competition. Last year, 150 families participated and this year she said she’s hoping for 500.

“This is for parents and children to do things together and meant to use our resources — state parks, city sites, nonprofits — we’ve got all these area activities and resources in our own backyard,” she said.

The competition ends in August with families turning in their journals. Oliva said she hopes, like last year, to hold the wrap-up session at Bass Pro Shops in Harlingen.

Nature centers

South Padre Island Sealife Center

Coastal Studies Lab

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

Sea Turtle Inc.

Sabal Palm Sanctuary

Roma Bluffs World Birding Center

National Butterfly Center

McAllen Nature Center

Quinta Mazatlan and World Birding Center

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse and World Birding Center

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center

Frontera Audubon Society

Valley Nature Center

Hugh Ramsey Nature Park and World Birding Center

State parks

Falcon State Park

Bentson-RGV State Park and World Birding Center

Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center

Resaca de la Palma State Park and World Birding Center

National refuges and parks

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

Texas Nature Challenge


Last year’s challenges

Challenge 1: Birds

Challenge 2: Morning program

Challenge 3: Live Animal

Challenge 4: Night Program

Challenge 5: Plants and Trees

Challenge 6: Butterflies

Challenge 7: Dragonflies

Challenge 8: Outdoor Picnic

Challenge 9: Afternoon/Evening Program

Challenge 10: Reptiles and Mammals

Challenge 11: Bike Ride

Challenge 12: Water Feature Senses