Nature calls for Victoria residents

Aug. 10, 2010 at 3:10 a.m.
Updated Aug. 11, 2010 at 3:11 a.m.

Attention Victoria residents. Grab your insect repellent and thinking caps. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to participate in Mission Possible: Nature Challenge 2010.

The Texas Zoo is calling for residents to participate in the 14-week competition, which runs from Aug. 15 through Nov. 20.

"I'm excited for people in Victoria to take advantage of this challenge," said Andrea Blomberg, executive director of the Texas Zoo. "It's like someone has gone out and preplanned activities for everyone to do on a weekly basis."

Sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, this is the event's second year, starting off last year as a pilot program in Houston.

This year, the program has expanded statewide with around 1,850 people currently signed up to participate, according to a press release.

For the purposes of the competition, the state has been divided into different regions with Victoria included in the Coastal Bend Region, which spans from Victoria south to Corpus Christi.

Teams, which must be made up of at least two family members, are challenged to explore their region's ecosystem through an Amazing Race-type competition that includes low-cost activities, taking place at partnering nature centers, aquariums and wildlife refuges around the area.

There are 20 missions in all.

Details on the missions, which are designed for people of all ages, will not be revealed until the night of Aug. 14.

However, Texas Zoo Education Curator Karalyn Jones, aka an informant, did tip the Victoria Advocate off that the missions would include, among other things, geocaching, which is a high-tech form of hide and seek; outdoor activities, solving mysteries, completing puzzles and getting acquainted with regional wildlife.

"People have the idea that wildlife is only in Africa, but there's a world of wildlife in our own backyard," Jones said. "The mission of this program is the opportunity to get back into nature and see what's available in our community."

There is one mission scheduled at the Texas Zoo and at least four more scheduled within 30 minutes of Victoria, according to Jones.

"These are designed to be weekend trips, so you can get multiple ones done," she said. "Most missions should not take more than two hours to complete."

Without revealing details, Blomberg said even frequent visitors to the Texas Zoo will find the hometown mission to be new and exciting.

"If there is a mission to accomplish while they are there, they may see the Zoo from a different perspective," Blomberg said.

Various prizes will be given away to participating teams for categories such as best photos, best scrapbook and most missions completed.

Jones had high hopes the Coastal Bend Region's winning team would be from Victoria.

"We've got some adventurers and good photographers here. I wouldn't be surprised if the winners come out of this area," she said.

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