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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Nature is a Childhood Learning Experience

We all love to be in nature, and North Texas certainly has more than its share. Fortunately, there are opportunities for children to not only enjoy the bounty, but learn something about our precious environment at the same time. We spotlight three examples here; Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary and John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, to show how government can work with the nonprofit and private sectors to benefit us all.

The nonprofit Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is dedicated to the conservation of species in peril. They conduct scientific research, train future professionals and educate the public on the management of natural resources and wildlife and provide diverse, compelling, learning experiences that inspire positive change in the way people think, feel and act toward nature.

A breeding center dedicated to the recovery of species in the wild, the center comprises 1,800 acres of protected Texas hill country, including a 9.5-mile scenic drive to interact with more than 50 exotic and endangered species roaming the open pastures, plus a children's animal center. Visitors can book private or public guided tours, overnight lodging, educational programs and more. They even have giraffes.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

2155 CR 2008, Glen Rose

254-897-2960 •

The goal of the nonprofit Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, in McKinney, is to connect kids and nature to inspire within them and their parents, families and teachers a deeper appreciation for the environment. The sanctuary is the result of Bessie Heard's vision for the future and her commitment to North Texas. Founded in 1967, The Heard consists of a 289-acre wildlife sanctuary and natural science museum with a threefold purpose of education, conservation and preservation.

Programs include zipline/ropes courses, birding, scouting, summer nature camps, and The education department offers innovative activities designed for all age groups, interests and abilities, such as guided nature trails, live animal presentations, a preschool program, homeschool science classes, adult and teacher workshops and more. Field trips and laboratory workshops are available by reservation. They also have a butterfly house.

Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary

1 Nature Place, McKinney

972-562-5566 •

Located in the 2,000-acre East Fork Wetland Project, the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, a public/private partnership, provides education and research opportunities pertaining to water conservation, wetland systems and wildlife management. It serves as the hub of environmental and social interest of manmade wetland habitats, and includes an additional 1,200 acres of bottomland hardwood forest restoration as part of the Bunker Sands Mitigation Bank.

The center has partnered with wildlife and conservation organizations, research institutions and regional school districts to develop premier environmental education programs specializing in middle school and high school field studies. Educational programs focus on wetland and river ecosystems, bird migrations and water conservation. Research conducted at the Wetland Center encompasses wetland ecology, riparian ecology and watershed modeling. The unique environmental education programs are hands-on field experiences, giving students an opportunity to observe and collect data for research projects.

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center

655 Martin Lane, Combine

972-474-9100 •