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Katy Prairie Conservancy

KPC_opossum baby.Tony Wear With youngsters home for the holidays, Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) offers a perfect opportunity to get them out of the house and engaged with nature through its upcoming Winter Camp. “Backyard Beasts” takes place at KPC’s Indiangrass Preserve December 29 – 31 from 9 a.m. – noon and promises exciting adventures for children ages five through eight.
Our neighborhoods are home to raccoons, opossums, woodpeckers, squirrels, and even more backyard “beasts.” Winter Camp allows children to learn about the fascinating lives of these animals and discover how they are connected to wildlife on the Katy Prairie, as well as to continents near and far. Activities include playing games, doing crafts, conducting simple experiments, and taking fun-filled hikes to peer into the animals’ secret world.
“Winter Camp is one of our most popular events for children,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, KPC’s executive director. “Parents appreciate getting their children outdoors doing something constructive after the holiday hoopla. In turn, kids love the diverse activities that make learning both stimulating and fun on the Katy Prairie.”
KPC_raccoon.Eric IsseleeChildren may register for one, two or three days. Cost is $7 per student per class. Students should dress appropriately according to the weather, including wearing close-toed shoes and warm layers. It can get cold and windy on the prairie.
To register for Winter Camp, go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.” If you have a knack for working with children and are interested in volunteering, contact Jaime Gonzalez at 713-523-6135. Indiangrass Preserve is located at 31950 Hebert Road in Waller, just west of Houston. Directions are on our website.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Two Wild West Tours and One Unplugged Adventure All Involve Birds

With the holidays soon upon us, Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) offers a varied menu of

1.The LeContes Sparrow and other types of sparrows are the focus of Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Wild West Tour “Wintering Sparrows” on Dec. 7 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Photos by Greg Lavaty
1. The LeContes Sparrow and other types of sparrows are the focus of Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Wild West Tour “Wintering Sparrows” on Dec. 7 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Photos by Greg Lavaty

fun and engaging nature events for all ages on the Katy Prairie in December. Winter is one of the most spectacular times to visit the prairie, as there is an abundance of hawks, eagles and other migratory birds; pleasant weather; and vibrant sunsets.

On Dec. 7 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., KPC kicks off with its first Wild West Tour, “Wintering Sparrows,” on Indiangrass Preserve, 31950 Hebert Road in Waller, led by Master Naturalist and birding expert Glenn Olsen.  Join Olsen and others interested in birding as they seek out various species of sparrows that call the prairie home in winter.

The second Wild West tour organized by Olsen is “Owl Prowl” on Dec. 12 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., also at Indiangrass Preserve. After a light dinner, the group will look and listen for elusive owls as these birds of prey hunt for their own dinner. Participants in both Wild West Tours will also explore preserves usually closed to the public.

The cost for each Wild West Tour is $50 per person, and a portion of that fee goes toward funding KPC educational programs.  The events require advance registration. Walking shoes, clothing layers, gloves and a hat are recommended, since the prairie tends to be chillier and windier than an urban setting. Participants are also encouraged to bring water, cameras, and snacks, if desired.

Adults and children are invited to come out to the prairie for the Unplugged Adventure “Gifts for Nature” on Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., which is a perfect outing for the entire family.  Cost is $3 per person. The holidays are a time of giving, and this is a way to give back to nature.  Join us for a morning of gift making as participants create feeders and homes for wildlife on the prairie. We will also take a short hike on Indiangrass Preserve to share our gifts with birds, insects, and other animals.

“Birding continues to be incredibly popular, and each of these activities focuses on birds in some way,” says KPC Executive Director Mary Anne Piacentini. “Last year, KPC’s preserves were designated a Global Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, recognizing how critical our prairie and wetlands are to bird preservation and conservation.”

“The two Wild West Tours and our Unplugged Adventure offer ideal opportunities for people to appreciate the diversity of birds that inhabit the Katy Prairie,” Piacentini continues. “We especially hope that parents will bring their children out for ‘Gifts for Nature,’ which combines education, entertainment and the joy of giving back.”

To register for these KPC activities, go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.”  If you are interested in volunteering for “Gifts for Nature,” contact Christine Mansfield at 713-523-6135.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all. 

KPC_KingRail1_greglavaty
The King Rail can be found on the Katy Prairie. Sign up for Katy Prairie Conservancy’s September Unplugged Adventure “Rails in the Rice” on Sept. 20. Photo by Greg Lavaty.

Help the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) kick off the fall season with its Unplugged Adventure: “Rails in the Rice” on Sept. 20 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Nelson Farms Preserve on the Katy Prairie in far west Houston. KPC’s Unplugged Adventures are designed to get folks outside to explore the prairie.
Rice farms and rangelands are home to thousands of species of wildlife, including the rail, a bird which moves silently through rice paddies, thriving in marshy conditions. During this Unplugged Adventure, you might also spy egrets seeking insects among cow herds and frogs patiently waiting for prey along drainage ditches.
“September holds the promise of cooler weather and a host of fun outdoor activities,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, executive director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy. “Join us for ‘Rails in the Rice’ as we explore rice fields and cattle pastures looking for the colorful, amazing, and secretive lives of the wildlife that thrive in these landscapes. It’s a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening with friends or family soaking up nature not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Houston.”
Cost for the event is $3 per person. Guests are encouraged to bring water, insect repellent and cameras to capture nature shots. Suggested attire is close-toed shoes and long pants.
Pre-registration is required for “Rails in the Rice.” Go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.”  Directions to Nelson Farms Preserve can be found on the website. If you are interested in being a volunteer group leader for this event, contact Jaime Gonzalez at 713-523-6135.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

GGOAmericanBasketflowerKPCStaffSummer is here, which is the perfect time to help the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) with its Great Grow Out (GGO) program, a citizen conservation project involving scouts, schools, garden clubs, families, and individuals. GGO is expanding its efforts for 2014, and individuals of all ages can participate.
“People may not know that bees and monarch butterflies are rapidly vanishing from our ecosystem,” says Christine Mansfield, conservation education specialist with Katy Prairie Conservancy and coordinator of GGO. “Native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs are critical to the survival of these amazing creatures, along with many other types of wildlife on the prairie, as they provide food, water and shelter.”
With seeds provided by KPC, folks from kindergarteners to retirees can grow and nurture native plants at home that will directly benefit our insect and animal friends. Plants will be used in restoration projects on the Katy Prairie, as well as at local pocket prairies and the Prairie Builder Schools and Parks program.
KPC will be distributing seeds for the Great Grow Out now through September. You can select which seeds you would like to plant from a list on the GGO web page, where instructions for the project are provided. Contact Mansfield at KPC at cmansfield@katyprairie.org or 713-523-6135 to request seeds.
Currently, KPC has American Basketflower, Rattlesnake Master, Rosinweed, Silver Bluestem, and Texas Coneflower seeds available for the Great Grow Out. Volunteers provide water, soil, pots, and time during the “grow out” period. “Another benefit of the program is that we encourage our growers to keep some plants for their yard or garden to invite butterflies and other colorful native pollinators to their home habitat,” says Mansfield.
After a few months of growing, the plants are returned to the Katy Prairie Conservancy for future replanting. Volunteers can choose to participate in various planting days on the Katy Prairie or at a public park or a local school.
“What an excellent opportunity for people to become fully invested to help enhance prairie conservation in the entire Houston region,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, executive director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy. “This is a project that can be done at home, requires minimal maintenance but tender care, and yields tangible benefits for our environment. It is also an excellent educational experience for children outside of the classroom.”
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Registration is Open for Summer Science Nights and Wild West Tour’s “Photographing Wildflowers”

KPC_SSN_CMansfieldAs summer fast approaches, Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) offers some fun and creative options for children ages five to 10 during Summer Science Nights, while adults with the photography bug can indulge their passion on the Wild West Tour “Photographing Wildflowers,” all scheduled for June.
Summer Science Nights are a perfect way to enrich a child’s understanding of science in the best laboratory of all — the great outdoors. Each session includes hands-on, brain-stretching activities and a hike on one of KPC’s wildlife-rich preserves. Classes are June 11 (Catching the Sun), June 18 (Rebuilding Earth), and June 25 (The Prairie Games). Sign up for one, two or all three classes, which are held from 6 – 8 p.m. at Indiangrass Preserve, 31950 Hebert Road in Waller.
With the wildflowers in bloom, now is the perfect time to capture the beauty of the Katy Prairie on camera.

On June 21, plan to get out early (7 a.m. – 11 a.m.) with our Wild West Tour: “Photographing Wildflowers,” where Master Naturalist and photo enthusiast Glenn Olsen will conduct a lively tour of some rarely visited KPC preserves. He will educate participants about local flora, allowing for some unique photo opportunities. Registrants will meet at the KPC Field Office, also at Indiangrass Preserve.
“We have a wonderful lineup of activities in June to appeal to all ages,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, executive director of Katy Prairie Conservancy. “Summer Science Nights will open up new horizons for many of these children with engaging, interactive experiences. With the Wild West Tour, adults can experience the amazing array of wildflowers on the Katy Prairie that are rarely seen by the public, while also perfecting their nature photography.”
Summer Science Nights has a registration fee of $7 per child for each class. The Wild West Tour, for adult learners only, costs $50 and includes a snack. A portion of the registration fee goes toward supporting KPC educational programs.
Pre-registration is required for both Summer Science Nights and the Wild West Tour. Go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “event. Directions to Indiangrass Preserve are available on the website. Call 713-523-6135 for more details.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Caracaras are one of the many birds seen on the Katy Prairie.
Caracaras are one of the many birds seen on the Katy Prairie. Photo by Greg Lavaty

Bird lovers, there is still time to register for Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) “Unplugged Adventure: Tropical Travelers” at Rock Hollow Creek on Warren Ranch May 10 from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Participants will hike in search of hummingbirds, caracara, and brightly colored buntings, which all call the Katy Prairie home.
These avian world travelers also spend part of their year in Central America or South America. The hike and related activities will shed light on the fascinating connections between the Katy Prairie and our neighbors to the south.
“Tropical Travelers” is a wonderful way to introduce children and teens to birding,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, KPC executive director. “The event combines hiking, bird watching, and hands-on activities, which is a perfect way to spend a spring day. Our Unplugged Adventures are designed to get people off of the couch, out of the house and onto the prairie.”
Cost for the event is $3 per person. Guests are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and also cameras to capture shots of birds in action.
Pre-registration is required for the Unplugged Adventure. Go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.” Directions to Warren Ranch can be found on the website. If you are interested in being a volunteer group leader for “Tropical Travelers,” contact Jaime Gonzalez at 713-523-6135.

Bird lovers, there is still time to register for Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) “Unplugged Adventure:

Hikers will search for the Caracara, among other birds, at Katy Prairie Conservancy's Tropical Travelers event May 10. Photo by Greg Lavaty
Hikers will search for the Caracara, among other birds, at Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Tropical Travelers event May 10.
Photo by Greg Lavaty

Tropical Travelers” at Rock Hollow Creek on Warren Ranch May 10 from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Participants will hike in search of hummingbirds, caracara, and brightly colored buntings, which all call the Katy Prairie home.

These avian world travelers also spend part of their year in Central America or South America. The hike and related activities will shed light on the fascinating connections between the Katy Prairie and our neighbors to the south.

“Tropical Travelers” is a wonderful way to introduce children and teens to birding,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, KPC executive director.  “The event combines hiking, bird watching, and hands-on activities, which is a perfect way to spend a spring day.  Our Unplugged Adventures are designed to get people off of the couch, out of the house and onto the prairie.”

Cost for the event is $3 per person. Guests are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and also cameras to capture shots of birds in action.

Pre-registration is required for the Unplugged Adventure. Go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.”  Directions to Warren Ranch can be found on the website. If you are interested in being a volunteer group leader for “Tropical Travelers,” contact Jaime Gonzalez at 713-523-6135.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

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Registration is Open for Wild West Tour’s “Firefly Friday” and Unplugged Adventure’s “Tropical Travelers”

With spring in full swing, Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) offers a varied menu of fun and engaging nature events for all ages on the Katy Prairie during the first two weekends in May, with registration now open online.

On May 2, KPC kicks off with Master Naturalist Glenn Olsen in charge of the Wild West Tour “Firefly Friday,” from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Indiangrass Preserve, 31950 Hebert Road in Waller, where guests will search for the elusive firefly and other creatures that sparkle in the night. After a light dinner, Olsen will lead the tour onto restricted preserves for an evening outing.

“Glenn Olsen has a knack for entertaining while educating, and Firefly Friday will be no different,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, executive director of Katy Prairie Conservancy. “Fireflies are becoming rarer in Houston and on the Katy Prairie, disappearing from marshes, fields and forests here and all over the country,” says Piacentini. “Most researchers cite development and light pollution as major factors. However, the Katy Prairie is still an important habitat for these small creatures.”

Then May 10 brings “Unplugged Adventure: Tropical Travelers” at Rock Hollow Creek on Warren Ranch from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. where participants will hike in search of hummingbirds, caracara and brightly colored buntings, which all call the Katy Prairie home. These world travelers also spend part of their year in Central America or South America. The hike and related activities will shed light on the fascinating connections between the Katy Prairie and our neighbors to the south.

Piacentini noted that “Tropical Travelers” welcomes adults and children and combines hiking, bird watching and hands-on activities. Cost for the event is $3 per person. Guests are encouraged to bring water, snacks and also cameras to capture shots of birds in action.

The Wild West Tour, for adult learners only, costs $50 and includes dinner. A portion of the registration fee goes toward supporting KPC educational programs.

Pre-registration is required for both the Wild West Tour and Unplugged Adventure. Go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.”  If you are interested in being a volunteer group leader for “Tropical Travelers,” contact Jaime Gonzalez at 713-523-6135.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Come on Out and Be a Cowpoke for a Day

HOUSTON –  The Rodeo may be over, but you can still act like a cowpoke at Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Ranch Roundup this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Warren Ranch on the Katy Prairie. Cost is $5 per person and includes a barbecue lunch. Adults and children of all ages are welcome.

Participants must register for Ranch Roundup online in advance. Information can also be found at katyprairie.org by clicking on the “Visit” tab and then “Events.” You can also print out directions to Warren Ranch, located at 15025 Warren Ranch Road in Hockley, 77447. Call 713-523-6135 for details.

Part of KPC’s Unplugged Adventures, Ranch Roundup will feature professional cowboys rounding up cattle. Guests will 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 activities. What better way to spend part of your Saturday than in the great outdoors on a working cattle ranch?

The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Join in the fun for Wild West Tours Feb. 16 and Mar. 1

The Mottled Duck is just one of the waterfowl that could be spotted during KPC's Wild West Tours Feb. 16 and Mar. 1. Photo by Greg Lavaty.
The Mottled Duck is just one of the waterfowl that could be spotted during KPC’s Wild West Tours Feb. 16 and Mar. 1. Photo by Greg Lavaty.

Become better acquainted with your waterfowl and bird friends at one or both of Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) upcoming Wild West Tours, “Winter Waterfowl” and “Intro to Birding the Katy Prairie.”
Join Master Naturalist and bird expert Glenn Olsen for the “Winter Waterfowl” tour of the Katy Prairie on Sunday, Feb. 16 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. You will visit some of KPC’s wetland-filled preserves in search of ducks, geese and other migratory waterfowl that call the Katy Prairie home during the winter. Early risers can learn more about our fine-feathered friends when Olsen presents the basics on birds and bird watching on Saturday, Mar. 1 from 7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at “Intro to Birding the Katy Prairie.”
“Winter is a terrific time to see many species of migratory birds and waterfowl on the prairie,” says Mary Anne Piacentini, executive director of Katy Prairie Conservancy. “Glenn makes the tours fun and exciting, adding humor and insight along the way. We have many repeat visitors for our Wild West Tours, which we credit to Glenn’s fascinating presentations.”
Cost for the Wild West Tours is $50 per person, and a portion of that fee goes toward funding KPC educational programs. Both tours start at Indiangrass Preserve, 31950 Hebert Road, in Waller, where participants will meet at KPC’s field office. To register for the
Wild West Tour, go to katyprairie.org and click on the “Visit” tab to find “events.”
The Wild West Tours are for adults only. A light breakfast will be served on Mar. 1. Water is provided, and light snacks are also available. A limited number of binoculars will be available to first-time birders; however, participants are encouraged to bring their own to better enjoy the experience. You can also bring a camera to take photos.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving an ecologically vital tallgrass prairie and associated wetlands area on Houston’s far west side for the enjoyment and benefit of all.