Parks and Recreation

Lick Creek Nature Center to be unveiled Saturday

By Hallie Kutch, Marketing Staff Assistant

Many people consider the 515-acre Lick Creek Park to be the crown jewel of College Station’s park system.

On Saturday, that precious jewel takes on an even shinier gleam with the grand opening of the long-awaited Lick Creek Nature Center. From 9 a.m.-noon, we cordially invite you to enjoy education stations, guest speakers, and guided tours through the 2,400-square-foot facility and the park’s many trails.

The free event begins with a welcome ceremony and ribbon cutting, followed by guided tours every half hour starting at 9:30 a.m. We’ll serve light refreshments, and dogs on leashes are welcome. Horses and bikes are not permitted.

Residents overwhelmingly approved the $2.1 million Lick Creek Park Nature Center as part of the 2008 bond election. The design was approved in 2014, but construction was delayed until an adequate water line could be installed for fire protection.

The nature center serves as the focal point of the picturesque park, which is located at 13600 Rock Prairie Rd. As the area’s premier nature preserve, the park displays a variety of native plant and animal species, including the endangered Navasota Ladies Tresses. It offers five miles of marked trails and provides ample opportunities for hiking, cycling, bird watching, equestrian activities, and nature study.

The facility features a meeting room, restrooms, indoor and outdoor classrooms, and an amphitheater available to rent for receptions, classes, meetings and more. Additional improvements and amenities have enhanced one of College Station’s favorite recreational areas and made it more accessible — and enjoyable — for young and old alike.

The nature center’s mission is to provide exceptional experiences while educating and inspiring visitors to explore, respect, and protect the natural world. The Parks and Recreation Department is teaming with community partners and organizations to host educational classes, programs, and events for all ages to enhance appreciation of the environment and encourage wildlife conservation and stewardship.

The nature center officially opens to the public on Nov. 1. Operating hours will be weekdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays from 1-6 p.m.

Paid classes already are underway. A few of the offerings include:

  • Outdoor education field trips.
  • Weekly Saturday programs such as birdhouse building contests, campfire building demonstrations, storytelling, survival tips, etc.
  • Saturday Showcase: once-a-month traveling education exhibits.
  • Self-led nature walk/wildlife identification scavenger hunt.
  • Birding 101 and guided nature walks.
  • Sunrise and sunset yoga classes.
  • Wild Wednesday: weekly hands-on programs to get you up close and personal with native critters and plants.
  • Friday Family Hikes: bring a picnic and hike before dinner with your family.
  • Little Ag Producers: youth learn how to identify, grow, harvest and prepare local vegetation.
  • Sunday Safety Series: learn snake and insect identification and bite protocol and outdoor and trail bike safety.

For more information on classes, special events, and facility rentals, go to cstx.gov/parks.

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About the Blogger

Hallie Kutch is in her third year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.


 

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Oct. 7 event makes racing in diapers superb family fun

By Virginia Godwin, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

Friendly competition never goes out of style — especially when the competitors are still in diapers.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, young crawlers, stumblers, walkers and runners from across the Brazos Valley will get together for the Toddler 2K and Baby Crawl at Wolf Pen Creek Park. The fun-filled event will also feature vendor booths and health and wellness activities that families can enjoy together.

Youngsters will compete on their developmental level and will be divided by age into early crawlers, strong crawlers, early walkers, strong walkers, and toddlers. Crawlers and early walkers will have a short distance race with one parent or caregiver at the starting line and one at the finish line. Walkers and toddlers will compete in a 2K race and may be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. Participants will be given complete instructions after they check-in starting at 9 a.m.

College Station Parks & Recreation and Fit4Moms are also offering a free family workout from 9-9:45 a.m. Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and anyone else is welcome to participate and model healthy activities for the little ones.

Children five-and-under must be kept in a stroller during the workout but will be entertained throughout. If you have not participated in a recent Fit4Moms class, please arrive early to complete a waiver form.

The cost is $5 per child, and registration ends Oct. 5.

Call 979-764-3486 for more information, or go to rectrac.cstx.gov to register.

 


About the Blogger

Virginia Godwin is in her fourth year as assistant recreation supervisor/youth services. A College Station native, she previously served as staff development specialist for Kids’ Klub, the College Station Independent School District’s after-school program.


 

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Get ready for the October monarch migration

By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

After enduring the summer heat, fall is always a welcome relief in Texas. It’s also an ideal time to sow nectar plants for the monarch butterfly migration and to prepare your gardens for the spring.

Texas is an important stop in the journey since it’s situated between the butterflies’ main breeding grounds in the north and their wintering areas in the south. The monarchs funnel through the Lone Star State in both fall and spring.

Monarch Garden Tips

The butterflies are expected to pass through the Brazos Valley in early October, according to Jane Cohen, the A&M Garden Club’s butterfly chair. She recommends growing nectar-producing plants to benefit the monarchs. The blooming flowers provide a sweet liquid that provides energy for the insects as they travel.

Here are 14 nectar plants to consider for your garden:

  • Black-Eyes Susan
  • Zinnia
  • Plumbago
  • Cassis
  • Goldenrod
  • Pipe-Vine
  • Purple Mist
  • Passion Vine
  • Senna
  • Sunflower
  • Hollyhock
  • Purple coneflower
  • Lantana
  • Joe-Pye Weed

Cohen says it’s best to plant in locations with plenty of sunshine since adult butterflies typically prefer to feed in the sun.

Vibrant colors such as red, yellow, orange, pink and purple tend to attract adult butterflies the most, and they also are drawn to patches of the same plant or color of flowers. It’s a good idea to incorporate continuous-blooming annuals in islands of color, or clusters of nectar plants and is beneficial to include milkweed either nearby or mixed.

You should also be mindful of the flower’s orientation. It’s important that flower blossoms are flat-topped or clustered to make a platform for the butterfly to land and walk. Butterflies need nectar throughout the adult phase of their life span, so plant for a continuous bloom so that when one plant stops blooming, another begins.

More About Milkweed

Milkweed is the only plant the caterpillar eats and is where butterflies lay their eggs. That makes an abundance of milkweed vital, especially in the spring. Milkweed can be planted in early fall, but the seeds are best planted in November when it’s too warm for the ground to be frozen, but too cool for the seeds to sprout until spring.

Tropical milkweed is a primary monarch food source, but it should be cut back to the ground in late fall to encourage the butterflies to continue their journey to Mexico.

An excellent way to start your garden is to pick up two free Butterfly Retreat seed packets from our Central Park office at 1000 Krenek Tap Rd. Each pack covers more than 20 square feet and contains a wildflower mix that’s perfect for creating a butterfly habitat.

Educational Opportunities

  • Butterflies in the Brazos Community Meeting: Share your ideas and plans to promote monarch butterflies and other pollinator habitats on Wed., Sept. 27 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Brazos Center. The free gathering includes education about local groups and their efforts to increase awareness about butterfly preservation, native plants for butterflies, and other pollinators. We will also explore ways to involve residents and identify community partners for networking along with an overview of basic gardening tips. The program will feature speakers from the A&M Gardening Club, Texas Master Naturalist, Keep Brazos Beautiful, Native Plant Society, Master Gardeners, Monarch Gateway, the USDA/TAMU Future Scientist Program, and the College Station Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Landscaping and Plants for Butterflies: Ann Boehm of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Master Gardeners and Butterflies in the Brazos will give an overview on landscaping and plants for butterflies. The free class will be Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. at Producers Ag Center (1800 N. Texas Ave.) in Bryan. You don’t need to RSVP.

We also invite you to visit our community demonstration gardens that were created by local community organizations:

For more information, go to cstx.gov/monarchs.

 


About the Blogger

Hallie Kutch is in her third year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.


 

Photo Copyright: xkardoc/123RF Stock Photo

 

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Navy Cruisers to perform Saturday at Veterans Park

By Gabby Salazar, Tourism Events Supervisor

With Texas A&M being one of only six senior military colleges in the country, College Station has always been proud to honor those who serve our country. We prominently display our appreciation for the military in local museums and memorials, especially Veterans Park & Athletic Complex.

That makes Veterans Park the ideal venue for Saturday’s free concert by the United States Navy Band Cruisers, the Navy’s premier contemporary entertainment ensemble. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Before the show, guests can take pictures with military and first-response vehicles, tour the Veterans Memorial, enjoy kids’ activities, and more. (more…)


Youth sports programs offer volunteer opportunities

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

Without dedicated volunteer coaches, our local youth recreation programs couldn’t grow and prosper. Coaches teach fundamentals and help kids develop skills while instilling the time-tested value of hard work, practice, sportsmanship, and teamwork.

College Station Parks & Recreation offers more than 20 youth sports programs – with over 1,200 participants – throughout the year. If you’ve ever considered coaching, we provide opportunities for you to encourage, guide and train young athletes in flag football, basketball and girls volleyball. (more…)


Promoting safety with the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

By Bridget Russell, Interim Aquatics Supervisor

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of setting a world record, here’s your chance.

On Thursday, June 22, you are invited to join College Station Aquatics at Adamson Lagoon for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. The free 50-minute lesson begins at 8 a.m. and will cover safe-swim topics for all ages and experience levels. Preregistration is not required.

Since the World Waterpark Association introduced the event in 2010, the City of College Station has helped the organization set world records while promoting water safety and raising awareness about the importance of learning to swim. The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson brings together tens of thousands of individuals around the world to participate in the same lesson in a 24-hour period.

Last year, more than 40,000 kids and adults participated in WLSL events in 24 countries, including 50 at Adamson Lagoon. Aquatic facilities from Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston to schools in India taught the lesson with one message in mind — swimming lessons save lives.

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is among the top five causes of death for people from 1-14 years of age. Research shows the risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent if children participate in formal swimming lessons between ages 1-4.

That means drowning is preventable, and swimming is a vital life-saving skill.

In addition to lessons, we offer these tips to keep your kids safe at the pool this summer:

  • Never leave children unattended. Parents are the first line of defense in keeping kids safe in the water. If your child is in the water, you should be, too.
  • Follow posted safety rules and warnings. Teach kids that being safe in and around the water is a personal responsibility — yours and theirs.
  • Teach your children to always swim with a buddy and never alone or in unsupervised places.
  • If you or a family member is a weak or non-swimmer, wear a life vest. College Station pools provide them at no cost.
  • Keep toddlers in shallow play areas.
  • Don’t use air-filled swimming aids such as water wings in place of life jackets. These items provide a sense of false security and may increase the risk of drowning. Swimming aids and other inflatables aren’t allowed in College Station pools.

For information about swim lessons, visit cstx.gov/swim.

 


About the Blogger

Interim Aquatics Supervisor Bridget Russell has served as pool manager for the City of College Station every summer since 2012 and is a certified lifeguard instructor. She also teaches in the Bryan Independent School District. A native of Torrance, Calif., Bridget earned master’s (2012) and bachelor’s (2011) degrees in sport management from Texas A&M.


 

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