Park Opening to Present Something for Everyone
The official opening of Jefferson’s new river walk, the Port Jefferson History and Nature Center, will bring five renowned guests to Jefferson who are experts in their fields. The distinguished cadre includes wildlife, native plant, gardening, and regional history authorities. The WILD Daze events are scheduled over three days, September 26-28, and will take place at either Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center, the new park premises along the adjacent historic riverfront, or Caddo Lake State Park. "The program will have something of interest for everyone," stated Mike Gannon, the new park’s manager. "Interested parties should pick up a WILD Daze program flyer at the Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center, Marion County Chamber of Commerce, online at www.collinsacademy.com, or come by or call Collins Academy at 903-665-2900," he added.
Robbie Sinkler will bring Wild Sky Productions to town for Thursday and Friday programs for area schools and adults. With over 20 years experience, Sinkler focuses on providing entertaining educational programs of the highest caliber. "Sinkler is one of the performers you see at renaissance fairs with the hunting falcons and other large bird performances. He has made national television appearances on the Today Show, Good Morning America, the Tonight Show, Regis & Kathy Lee, and the Late Show with David Letterman and performed at most of the larger theme parks such as Sea World, Epcot Center, and Dolly World. Sinkler’s raptors will be on display at the Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center when not performing flight demonstrations outside. We will also release back to nature a rehabilitated raptor to close the program on Saturday around noon. Beverly Grage with Free and Wild Again out of Lindale, Texas, will do the honors by freeing a red-tailed hawk or great horned owl, whichever is ready to go by then," continued Gannon.
Robby, Shannon and little Piper travel year round appearing at events and theme parks across the Nation
Beverly Grage of Free & Wild Again in Lindale prepares to release a rehabilitated great horned owl
The region’s leading Master Gardener, Belinda McLaughlin of Black Mountain Gardens near Lone Star, will present GO Natives on Thursday at 2:00 PM. In addition to starting the three Master Gardener chapters in the area, Belinda is a past president of the Native Plant Society of Texas. "I am sure Belinda will provide many of us with the critical information we need in order to select appropriate native plant materials for our own gardens, to efficiently and effectively maintain our gardens, and to benefit both financially and esthetically for many years from them," summarized Gary Endsley, the park’s secondary education director and maintenance manager. "Besides, Belinda is the source for many of the plantings we will be installing inside the park premises," he added.
On Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM, Mark Klym, coordinator of the Texas Wildscape and Texas Hummingbird Roundup programs at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, will follow on and add to Belinda’s information with the nuts and bolts of how to install and maintain an East Texas Wildscape, which is a high quality wildlife garden. "Since the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club of Jefferson is considering sponsorship of a project to expand wildlife gardening across the greater community, I expect many of them to attend and discover the value of native plant materials. We’ll have the National Wildlife Federation in here in January to detail their Wildlife Garden Certification Program to the garden club before start up of native plant expansion across Jefferson," he added.
Saturday’s activities will start at 8:30 AM with a Friends and Family Nature Walk facilitated by Libby Horton, the park’s elementary education director. Activity boxes will be located along the bottomland forest trail to engage participants in discovery of natural science and history features found there. "At the completion of the nature walk, participants will complete a survey to evaluate the activity and provide input for future programming. The first 60 elementary aged children will receive a Port Jefferson History & Nature Center field journal to document their findings while at the park," stated Ms. Horton.
The nature walk will be followed at 10:00 AM Saturday by a special presentation from Caddo Lake Institute. Richard Lowerre, president of the organization, will announce to the public and discuss a new science-based research and education project, which will emanate from the park and be supported by its staff.
The dedication ceremonies will begin at 11:00 and will move from inside the Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center to the park outside for the ribbon-cutting and raptor release. Local JISD students and Boy Scouts will be featured in the dedication activities.
A local history expert and Texas Historical Commission Steward will deliver two presentations about important aspects of Jefferson’s rich history. On Thursday at 1:00 PM, Bob Vernon will discuss navigation history with his program titled Jefferson or Bust. On Friday at the same time he will discuss details of the area’s role in the American civil War with his program on the Jefferson Ordnance Works.
Interested parties should note that concurrent and additional activities will take place at Caddo Lake State Park and along Big Cypress Bayou in Jefferson. At 2 PM on Friday, local
paddle enthusiasts will conduct a canoe-kayak race. Registration for the race will occur between 11:00 and 1:30 PM at the Transportation Center. The race course will start at the Highway 59 Bridge and end at the City’s new boat ramp facility at the foot of South Washington Street. All participants are to supply their own boats.
At 7:30 on Friday, Bat Watch will be presented by interpretive specialist Mia Brown at Caddo Lake State Park. Ms. Brown will follow-up on Saturday with Trees and Plants of Caddo Lake at 10:00 and Life as a Three-C’s Boy at 1:30 PM. Regular park entry fees apply for all activities at Caddo Lake State Park.
For more details about the three day event, please see www.collinsacademy.com or pick up a flyer at the Marion county Chamber of Commerce or the Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center.