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.
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
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
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