Each revisit to this site brings more places to explore, and this late June day had perfect weather to again enjoy Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The Junior Ranger booklet was a great way to learn more about this park site. This is an unique site, it is co-managed by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. It was established in 1996 to highlight a tallgrass prairie ecosystem on the Spring Hill Ranch. Once you leave the modern visitor center you can explore the ranch on your own or with scheduled tours.
This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are no age requirements listed in the booklet. The only requirement to earn the badge was to complete five activities. As the booklet has 18 possible activities, this makes completing the program easy. I always appreciate having choices and this booklet gives lots of options, it was easy to find 5 and more interesting activities.
I completed more than five activities, but spent most of my time completing Activity 11: Historic Spring Hill Ranch Buildings. While touring the grounds there are interpretive signs which provide the information needed to complete a series of questions. Badger, the park horse mascot, was out and about and curious as we walked past the barnyard.
As my husband is a retired paleontologist I used his expertise to complete Activity 8: Fossils, Geology, and Rock Fences. After examining the many limestone blocks which make up the ranch buildings I drew pictures of fossils we discovered.
A variety of topics; American Indian Culture, Plants and Grasses, Lower Fox Creek School #14, Get to Know the Preserve (5 Senses), as well as a short essay and drawing a picture, provides lots of way to explore and learn about this site. Once I finished my booklet I returned to the visitor center. Ranger Mary reviewed my booklet, administered the pledge and presented me with a standard Junior Ranger badge. A great place to spend a summer afternoon.
Another National Park Service (NPS) site that was open during the January 2019 government shut down was Waco Mammoth National Monument in central Texas. This is another site that is still being managed by the local government and Baylor University, as arranged when it was named a national monument in 2015.
This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is given as Ages 13 and up. The three age groups are 5-8, 9-12 and 13 and up. Respectively, the required completed activities for the age groups are 5, 7 and 10.
Because this site has their booklet online I was able to print out several pages in advance of my visit and complete them before arriving. This helped to save time while heading home after being on a road trip for almost two weeks. In advance I completed the word search and a crossword puzzle, both had word banks.
While onsite I went on the tour, on a quiet Saturday morning I was the only one on the tour. Ranger Summer was an excellent tour guide, currently a volunteer and college student with plans to become a NPS Ranger. My favorite part of the tour was learning that two boys discovered the first of the Columbian Mammoth bones while exploring the creek bed. Luckily the families took the large bone to Baylor University in 1968. Those boys, now grown men, still live in the area and at times participate in tours. The building covers the massive bone field with some skeletons exposed and fairly complete. The Columbian Mammoth was much larger than the Wooly Mammoth.
As always I enjoyed the scavenger hunt and interviewing a ranger, both favorite activities of any junior ranger program. Upon completion of the ten activities and review by Ranger Summer I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. What was unique about this ceremony is my hand was placed on Mammoth tooth (replica), how cool! I received their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting their signature Columbian Mammoth.