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Nature program teaches kids about their world (Video)

By chirst
Nov. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Nov. 11, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.

Karen Hickman, of Belton, makes a basket from a yucca plant for a demonstration at Rio! Rio! on Saturday at the Goliad State Park using the same materials and method Native Americans in the area would have used. Hickman said it would take about three weeks to make the basket if she worked on it full time.

Ten-year-old Eddie Garza spent his Saturday outside, doing everything from grinding corn with a rock to learning how to make a rope from horse hair.

"It has a lot of exercise," Eddie said, as he worked to make the corn powder. "It makes food, and you don't really need anything else to make it."

Eddie, along with the rest of his Cub Scout Troop from Taft, came to Rio! Rio! in the Goliad State Park to learn about nature.

The day included demonstrations and exhibits to involve students in the early days of Texas with the educational program meant to teach students how the San Antonio River drew plants, animals and humans to the area.

"It is interesting for them to learn about the history and how these people lived. ... That is the point of the Cub Scouts. It is about making fire and setting up camp - about nature. So to learn how they did it way back when and correlate that, they learn a lot," said Ray Garza, cub master of the troop.

Beth Ellis, level two park ranger who has helped put the event together since 2000, said it helps students understand their role in nature.

"It is important for us that kids, especially, understand the interplay - the connection with nature," Ellis said. "In our culture, there seems to be a huge separation between the natural world and the human world, but really they exist together."

Though Rio! Rio! was open to the public Saturday, Friday was reserved for school visits. Ellis said they had almost 1,000 students come through the park Friday from as far away as Mercedes.

The event included fishing games, a selection of animals on display from the Texas Zoo and a gun powder demonstration.

Jim and Karen Hickman, of Belton, have attended Rio! Rio! for the past six or seven years. They make tools from the Native American culture using the same materials and methods the natives used.

"It is the technology that we have modernized and evolved into our pottery, china and baskets," Karen Hickman said as she coiled a basket out of a yucca plant.

Eddie, excited to camp in the park overnight, said Rio! Rio! was worth the trip from Taft.

"I've learned a lot of things, like what some special things the Native Americans used, like animal skins and what animals they used and where they can be found now," Eddie said.



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