Blanco State Park was a beehive of activity on Friday May 11th when 49 third graders from Blanco Elementary School descended upon the park for the 3rd annual Kids Day Out Program. The weather had everyone worried initially because over three inches of rain had fallen the previous night – but the day brought nicely cooler temperatures with overcast skies and no precipitation to interfere with the activities.
The Kids Day Out Program is a day for the third graders to experience nature firsthand outside of the tradition classroom. They are exposed to a wide array of subjects and are provided hands-on opportunities to learn about various aspects of wildlife and the environment. The program this year was supported by 23 volunteers – most of whom were Highland Lakes and Hays County Master Naturalists (the Highland Lakes Chapter covers Blanco, Llano and Burnet Counties).
Throughout the day, the third graders moved through a series of learning stations which focused on different species of mammals, bats, birds, and fish. They also participated in an interactive game where they explored the habitat needs of different species and how species compete for resources in order to survive. A scavenger hunt helped demonstrate how nature inspires art, and a watershed model addressed topics such as pollution, erosion and the impact of humans' actions on the water around us.
The day concluded with a presentation by local herpetologist Jared Holmes who shared his cache of snakes with the kids, ensuring that they understood the importance of snakes to the ecosystem and helping them to develop a respect and appreciation for them.
Organizer Mary Alice Partain, Park Interpretive Ranger, reported that departing comments from the children, teachers, parents and volunteers indicated that a fun and rewarding time was had by all.