Education & Outreach
KPC’s education programs, which take place on the prairie and in town, provide an opportunity for young and old alike to learn about the prairie's history, its rich biodiversity, and its role in shaping our region and culture. Visitor amenities such as KPC’s Wildlife Viewing Platform at Warren Lake and the Ann Hamilton Trail at KPC’s Indiangrass Preserve enable the public to experience the Prairie first-hand.
The Katy Prairie attracts birdwatchers, nature viewers, and hunters from all over North America, as well as local hikers, bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts. KPC offers a variety of educational and recreational opportunities for visitors to explore the prairie. In addition to hosted events, the public is welcome to visit the Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Platform at Warren Lake and the Indiangrass Preserve (hours here).
KPC is spearheading a regional initiative with other federal, state, local, and nonprofit conservation groups to create a one stop online shop for environmental teaching materials. These materials will inspire local formal (school) and informal (nonprofit staff and volunteers) educators to teach about Houston’s unique ecosystem, wildlife, and environmental issues.
KPC’s Prairie Builders Schools + Parks program is a signature KPC program which engages public schools and public spaces, often located in economically depressed areas, to establish on-site pocket prairies. These prairies become bridges for learning about prairie science, history, culture, economics, and global environmental stewardship. Further, these prairies energize school communities and preserve a lasting location where students can interact with the land.
To date, 10,000 students have participated in educational programming through this project. KPC has also assisted 6 public parks in creating native grasslands habitats. KPC has more recently worked with colleges and universities. In the spring of 2016, KPC partnered with the University of Houston to create a pocket prairie on its campus for student research; KPC worked with the University of St. Thomas and collaborated with Rice University to plant pocket prairies in 2017.
PRAIRIE DISCOVERY BOXES
These comprehensive educational kits contain a prairie-based curriculum, biological specimens, literature, videos, sound recordings, and educational resources that allow teachers to bring the prairie to life in their classrooms. KPC has collaborated with the Cy-Fair ISD’s Science Center to educate over 15,000 students with these boxes over the last three years.
PRAIRIE 101 TEACHER WORKSHOPS
KPC offers two teacher workshops yearly to local school teachers and volunteers. Educators received in-depth training and material for teaching prairie science, history, and land uses.
KPC Rangers (volunteers) lead hikes of discovery as participants explore life on the prairie, learn about preserve restoration, how KPC accomplishes its acquisition goals. Ranger Treks are offered monthly.
Summer Science Nights enrich students’ understanding of science in the best laboratory of all — the great outdoors. Each session includes an evening class that is designed with hands-on, minds-on activities and a hike on one of KPC’s wildlife-rich preserves. A sampling of previous Summer Science Nights topics include Buzz on Bees, Frog Hunting, Wild Wetlands, and Pioneering. During the winter holidays, KPC invites families to the prairie to learn about winter on the prairie and to make conservation crafts.
KPC’s Unplugged Adventures offer opportunities to urban students and families to learn about the native prairie through hands-on activities. One of our most popular Unplugged Adventure offerings is our annual Ranch Roundup, which features professional cowboys rounding up cattle. Participants also have a chance to test their lassoing skills, act out a Texas tall tale, snap a photo with a horse, and take part in other fun and educational activities. Other Unplugged Adventures give children and families an opportunity to fly kites under a big Texas sky, attend a nighttime predator prowl, camp out and watch a meteor shower, and many other unusual activities on different topics.
KPC is co-coordinating a virtual field trip program with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Region 4 Educational Service Center to bring the wild into classrooms and hospitals throughout the State of Texas. These events are broadcast live from nature centers, animal rehabilitation facilities, and wildlife preserves throughout the Greater Houston Region and capture some of the great wildlife and conservation stories from our area. Virtually Wild field trips are typical offered one to two times monthly.
WILD WEST TOURS
Wild West Tours are a great way to get an up-close look at some of the best places and wildlife on the Katy Prairie in a small group format. Well-known local naturalist Glenn Olsen leads these adventures typically 5-8 times yearly. Wild West Tours have varied foci throughout the year and have focused on wildlife photography, waterfowl identification, bird migration, winter birding and other topics.