Interactive Outdoor Classrooms
At Bob Jones Nature Center, we are dedicated to improving children’s health – one green space at a time. “We have a growing body of scientific literature that is showing us that we can reduce diabetic A1Cs, we can improve asthma outcomes, we can reduce weight, increase our wellness… with spending more time outside in green, natural settings.“
– Dr. Robert Zarr
Dr. Zarr is a pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, DC and the founder and director of DC Park Rx, a community health initiative to prescribe nature to patients and families. Listen to them discuss these new reasons to get kids outdoors on The Diane Rehm Show.
Our newest green space for children is an interactive outdoor classroom adjacent to the big red barn –a pollinator garden. The garden features Texas native plants, trees and flowers – all of which bring native butterflies, bees and birds which are currently dwindling in population. Not only will children improve their health in this space, they will be learning naturally – from the basics of colors, shapes and counting to more complex ideas about how they are integrally connected to the natural world.
The Tarrant County Master Gardeners have diligently and passionately worked for years on the perennial gardens which surround the Nature Center. In these gardens, children and adults learn about Texas native plants, the Monarch lifecycle and migration, song birds, lizards, worms and how these plants and wildlife fit into our local Texas history.
Our home school and preschool teachers both utilize the edible gardens to teach students about caring for a living thing over time, watching the lifecycle process up-close and understanding how crops become dinner. Planting, watering, mulching, weeding and harvesting all provide specific learning lessons about science, nutrition and nature.
Hiking the Nature Center’s trails provides a multitude of lessons – persevering when tired, obtaining muscle memory, observing ecosystems, appreciating the beauty of nature, learning hobbies that don’t involve a screen, staying hydrated to name to a few. We use the trails for home school, preschool, spring break camp, summer day camp and mommy & me classes.
Local Ponds & Streams and Lake Grapevine
Our teachers often incorporate a fresh water source into a hike – the Bluebird Pond at BJNC, the fishing pond at Bob Jones Park, the wet-weather stream near the equestrian trails or Lake Grapevine. Students participate in field experiments at the sites as well as collect specimens to be studied later when back indoors. From dragonflies, frogs and turtles to water grasses, sand and the water itself, there are endless learning opportunities.
Charlie’s Composting Corner
Charlie Shiner, Master Gardener, Master Composter and “The Compost King of Tarrant County” founded the composting program and workshops at Bob Jones Nature Center. His composting corner is used to teach children and adults alike about the mixing of organic matter to form humus which can be added to garden beds and lawns. The composting process is a great starting point for discussing topics such as recycling, reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills and artificial fertilizers that run off into local streams, ponds and lakes.