April 17, 2017 — AUSTIN — Busy schedules, excessive screen time and lots of other factors keep kids from connecting with nature, even though study after study show that spending time outdoors makes them healthier, happier and smarter. Same goes for adults. So why not head outside together?

    From April 22 to Aug. 12, Central Texans have the opportunity to venture outside and connect with nature during Texas Nature Challenge 2017. This family-oriented, friendly adventure is aimed at getting families and kids outside visiting local parks, nature centers and green spaces. At each site, participants complete challenges designed for family fun, nature exploration and the development of an understanding of the benefits nature provides.

    Regional coordinator Jennifer Chapman is excited to introduce Central Texans to a new set of challenges.

    “The best part of Texas Nature Challenge is knowing that you have access to a long list of nature areas to explore, while also knowing that you have a fun mission to complete while you are there,” said Chapman. “TNC missions are an easy, rather fail-safe, way to get your family outside and having fun.”

    Participating in an opening ceremony is a fun, easy way to get started. Those close to the Austin area are invited to the Austin Nature and Science Center for free, fun activities on April 22, from 9 a.m. to Noon.

    A closing ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 12 where families and participants can gather to swap stories, celebrate adventures and receive awards for best blog, most creative scrapbook and more.

    Digital badges offer a new layer for families and teams to interact and keep in touch with Texas Nature Challenge, other teams and participating sites.

    “Participating in the challenges helps you create memories of adventures in nature with your family and friends,” said Chapman.

    Coordinated by Texas A&M Forest Service, the competition takes place throughout the year across three regions:  Central, Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend.

    For more information about Texas Nature Challenge 2017, visit


    Texas Nature Challenge, Central Texas Regional Coordinator

    Jennifer Chapman,


    Texas Nature Challenge, Central Texas Regional Coordinator

    Mary Beck,


    Texas A&M Forest Service Contact

    Shylo Adams, 979-324-0708,