Mansfield Living

Oliver Nature Park offers education programs for all ages

In many of the camps and programs, nature education specialist Sam Kieschnick uses crafts including track molds to supplement nature lessons.
In many of the camps and programs, nature education specialist Sam Kieschnick uses crafts including track molds to supplement nature lessons. Courtesy photo

Oliver Nature Park offers programs for people to enjoy the outdoors this summer.

The park has several mini camps for younger nature enthusiasts, night hikes and educational programs through the summer.

“Each season has changes and the summer has a lot of changes too,” Nature Education Specialist Sam Kieschnick said. “If you've been there recently the sunflowers are just popping out there, they are just exploding, they are just so vibrant, each season has its unique organisms that come out.”

There will be three morning camps for children ages 7-12 that explore the organisms in the park. The first camp, which runs from June 15-18, will focus on birds, the July 13-16 session highlights plants and Aug. 10-13 will feature bugs.

Kieschnick said the camps provide an opportunity for children to explore the the living things around them. He said there are 679 different species of animals, plants and fungi at the park.

“I tell people why go to the rainforest when you have this diversity right here in our own backyard, which includes almost 90 species of birds and 380 species of plants.”

The camps run from 9-10 a.m. for four days. Costs are $25 per child, or $23 with a MAC card. Fees include a T-shirt.

Kieschnick said the park will continue its Little Naturalists program for children ages 3-5 every other Wednesday starting June 24 where participants will make nature crafts while learning.

The park will also have regular Night Hikes with a Naturalist on the last Saturday of each month from 8:30-9:20 p.m. Kieschnick will lead hikers on a journey through the park.

“I lead the group and we explore our senses,” he said. “We use our ears, we use our fingers, we use our nose, we do use our eyes but they’re not quite as active as they are in the day.”

Cost is $7 per person or $5 for those with a MAC card. Other night hike times are from 8:15-9:15 p.m. June 27 and July 25.

Free single-day events include Moth Mania on July 17 where attendees will learn about moths from an expert, and Radical Reptiles on Aug. 8 where participants will learn about reptiles and amphibians.

Kieschnick said those who come to the park can also learn about the environment on their own. He said educational signage is posted around the trails and some have QR codes that allow smart phone users to explore even more. He shared one example that allows users to see photos of native birds and hear their calls.

“It all goes back to our little tag line: Educate. Appreciate. Preserve,” he said. “With each one of these programs you get the first two verbs, you learn a little bit and you appreciate what’s around you and then I hope you can take those two actions and lead to the third.”

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770

Twitter: @dustindangli

Summer Programs at Oliver Nature Center

Summer camps are from 9-10 a.m. for children ages 7-12 with $25 registration cost per child.

Bird Business, June 15-18

This camp will explore birds including their feathers, nests and more. The lessons are supplemented with crafts and experiments.

Plant Power, July 13-16,

Campers will learn about the plants at the park and how seeds grow into trees and plants.

Bug Bonanza, August 10-13

This program will showcase bugs and insects at the park including the 28 different species of dragonflies.

Little Naturalists, every other Wednesday June 24-Aug. 19

Children ages 3-5 can learn about nature with crafts and other activities.

Nike Hikes, for $7 participants will explore the park at night.

8:15-9:15 p.m. June 27

8:15-9:15 p.m. July 25

7:45-8:45 p.m. Aug. 29

Moth Mania, July 17, 8-9:30 p.m., free.

This event will teach attendees all about moths, including why they are important to the environment and the various species.

Radical Reptiles, Aug. 8, 10-11 a.m., free

The Crosstimber Connections will bring animals including snakes and turtles to teach participants about reptiles and amphibians.

Registration for events is available online and at the Mansfield Activities Center, 106 S. Wisteria.