By Morrigan DeVito
Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean there’s no more nature in Las Vegas. And families are looking for ways to keep their kids connected to nature in the summer, which is why Red Rock Audubon Society (RRAS) teamed up with some of our community partners to host summer youth programs. Read on to learn more about ways kids explored the urban desert this summer.
Bird Summer Camp at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
RRAS contributed to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve’s Bird Summer Camp program in June, which hosted eight eager students from ages 7-10. Alongside staff from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, who taught students about reptiles in the Mojave Desert, we talked about bird adaptations and behavior. We compared Gambel’s Quails and Burrowing Owls and students learned about different ways desert birds survive in the heat. Their favorite bird of the class was the Gambel’s Quail with their silly topknots and funny sounds. Another highlight of the rainy day were Woodhouse’s Toads hopping around the pollinator garden, showing just how much the desert comes alive in the rain.
Eco-Explorers at Clark County Wetlands Park
We collaborated with Clark County Wetlands Park to create youth programs throughout June and July. Classes booked up and even had a waitlist with each class hosting kids ages 3-8 and their parents. The families learned all about the many forms of life found throughout Clark County Wetlands Park, from birds and reptiles to pollinators and plants. We even had a special guest partner, Jacqui Ver Loren van Themaat from the Xerces Society, teach a special class about native bees and other pollinators. Students were enthralled by ants and dragonflies as we explored around the visitor center, and they even played a scavenger hunt game to match seed pods to honey mesquite, catclaw acacia, and screwbean mesquite trees. After spending time outside, we came indoors for art activities, like bird coloring pages created by artist Myranda Bair, a create-your-own reptile activity, and coloring butterfly masks.
Leaders of the Future at Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center and Hollywood Recreation Center
Leaders of the Future is a Clark County leadership development program for students ages 13-17, teaching skills in team building and leadership. RRAS was invited to lead four classes in total at the Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center and Hollywood Recreation Center in June and July. We talked to students about urban birds and bird conservation, including ways to make homes more bird-friendly by keeping cats indoors, planting native plants, and having bird-safe glass. Students were surprised to learn about how many bird species can be found in the Las Vegas Valley. At the Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center, we showcased our native plants demonstration garden and had students collect penstemon seeds after searching for pollinators in the garden. At Hollywood Recreation Center, students chased grasshoppers alongside grackles and roadrunners to better understand the grasshopper’s role in the food web and to see their details up close. Students also created nature journal entries after the second session of our programs about what captured their attention the most in nature that day. The highlights? Pigeons, grackles, and lots of grasshoppers.