With the swing of his right arm, Nathan Priest cast a fishing line into a sea of green grass Thursday afternoon.

J.R. Munoz, of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, smiled at Nathan.

“There you go!” Munoz said.

Nathan, who broke his left arm about six weeks ago, tried to cast the fishing line into a Hula-Hoop in the grassy area of Ethel Lee Tracy Park on the last day of the Junior Naturalist Camp.

“It was hard because of my broken arm, but it was fun,” Nathan, 9, said. “This whole week has been fun.”

Nathan is one of 38 children who participated in the Junior Naturalist Camp, put on by Victoria College in partnership with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and Texas Master Naturalist Mid-Coast Chapter.

The four-day camp is divided into two age groups: 5- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 12-year-olds. Each day, campers learned about a different component of nature, said Beth Hudson, camp director and Texas Master Naturalist member.

“Through the naturalist camp, children are able to observe, study, understand and appreciate nature in our area,” Hudson said.

Throughout the camp, children learned about animal adaptation and how animals survive in the wild; herpetology; and fishing and water safety. For each day, campers were able to see insects, creatures and plants up close and simulate how to cast a line while fishing.

“They (the children) are going to take over for us one day, and it is good for children to care about nature and see it for themselves,” she said.

Cadence Novosad, 10, said she joined the camp this year because she loves nature and wants to grow up to be someone who helps Victoria become a better place.

Even though she loves nature and animals, Cadence said she was a little nervous Monday when the volunteers brought in a snake to show the campers.

She pulled through her nervousness, though, and held the snake and learned about the slithering creature.

“Some snakes are venomous and some are not. Snakes can also be harmful but if you leave them alone, it won’t harm you,” Cadence said. “We also have to be careful with snakes because they help the environment.”

The camp was the perfect opportunity for Konor Eliot, 10, to learn more about the world around him; he would like to become a geologist one day.

Konor said he loves spending time outside enjoying his favorite activity, swimming. Through the camp, Konor said he learned about different fishing rods, bait and tackles.

Konor also learned about nature journaling, which is when one draws what they find interesting in nature, he said. For his nature assignment during camp, Konor drew a tree and a mockingbird.

“You can really connect with nature through journaling,” he said.

Hudson said she plans to cover environment and recycling during next year’s Junior Naturalist Camp. She is hoping to bring a specialist to the camp to speak about sea turtle rescue, how to reuse plastics and pollinator gardening.

“All of these lessons really help children understand our world and how to make the world a better place,” Hudson said.

Amber Aldaco reports on education for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at aaldaco@vicad.com or 361-580-6303.

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Education Reporter

Amber Aldaco is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She's covered various events in the Crossroads including a zoo rescue, a biker funeral and a state meeting with the governor. She enjoys singing with her significant other.

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