grown into a network of about 300 government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals whose goal
is to get kids and families outdoors. It was sparked, in
part, by surveys that said that typical park users in Texas
were in their 40s.
“Our tag line is that kids and families who spend time
outdoors are happier, healthier and smarter,” said Bristol, who coordinates the program. “This all grew out of
the movement Richard Louv started and took off when
the project was endorsed by our state Legislature. They
recognized that this is important for our kids.
“About 80 of the legislators said ‘We want to do something about this, so go for it!’ So we work with schools,
healthcare providers and others, helping families who
want to get out in nature. We also work with educators to help them get their science lessons outdoors.”
She said the “Nature Rocks Texas” website (
naturerock-stexas.org) is the main vehicle for providing information
to Texas families. It has information on nearly all the
state’s green space and nature centers.
“You name it, it’s there,” she said of the website. “It
has a ton of activities that families can pick and choose
from when they have the time and inclination to get
outside. All of the state parks are listed as well as our
national partners, wildlife refuges, etc.
“If people say they don’t know what to do, we send
them to this website, which has it all,” she said. “Now
we are revamping it, so it’s more mobile friendly because
we know through research that 80 percent of families —
even underserved ones — are connecting with mobile
devices. We want to include everyone.”
Bristol said when she spoke to families recently about
the program, which is funded through the Texas Parks
and Wildlife Foundation, they were somewhat skeptical about how spending time in nature would benefit
“I told them that numerous studies show kids who are
playing and learning in nature are physically and mentally
healthier, do better in school, have higher self-esteem, have
The website has a ton of activities that families can pick and
choose from when they have the time to get outside.
Photos courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
Courtesy of Virginia State Parks