Completed: March 28, 2016
After camping within the park and waking to thunder and lightning I went to the Malaquite Visitor Center to pick up the Junior Ranger booklet. As the rain was still falling I found a dry bench on the large porch to begin working on the booklet.
The program is Senior Friendly as no age grouping is given. The introduction indicates you can work alone, with family or a group of friends. All activities are expected to be completed.
Activities include; Ask a Ranger, Winging It, Against All Odds, Ask the Turtle Expert, The Park in the Dark, Beach Clean-Up, The People of Padre, A World of Jellies, and Seashell Search. Between displays in the visitor center, videos in the center and a walk on the beach I was able to complete all of the activities in about two hours.
I enjoyed all of the activities and appreciated the diversity of the activities. Winging It has you identify 5 different birds and their unique environments. Protecting sea turtles, especially Kemp’s Ridley, nesting on the island is an important part of this park’s mission. Learning about them and thinking about how to protect them made me think how important this endangered animal is to this ecosystem.
The Seashell Search took me out on the beach to find as many examples pictured as I could find. Inside the visitor center is a touch table with all of the shells displayed. I was pleased to be able to find four of the 15 shells on the beach and then spent time finding the others at the touch table. The Park in the Dark activity had you match eight animals that are active in the dark. I did not realize the Black Skimmer would be active after dark.
In addition to the standard Junior Ranger badge you can earn a patch if you pick up a bag of trash while beachcombing. I found a shopping bag along the walkway on my way down to beach which I used to collect of full bag of trash; plastic water bottles, parts of toys and even a shoe. The staff in the visitor center will give you a bag and gloves for this activity.
Once done I went back to the visitor center to interview a ranger, Carlin. I always enjoy doing this activity, she was fairly new to this park, but was enthusiastic about her responsibilities, especially working with school groups. She reviewed my completed booklet and issued me the oath, certificate, turtle button and badge.