WICHITA FALLS, TX (KSWO)- In this week's "One Tank Trip" series, we head down the road to Wichita Falls. The River Bend Nature Center has been educating students and tourists since 1995 with state-of-the-art facilities and a passion for the wildlife housed inside.
We're surrounded by it, yet, we might not know the value of the plants and wildlife native to Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas. The River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls aims to bridge the gap between people and their natural environment through education, environmental awareness, and conservation efforts.
"You'll come here learning more about Texas ecology than you might wanted to know."
As you walk in, you'll run into the learning center where you're surrounded by all kinds of animals and collections. A guide will be happy to take you around the room, where you're introduced to everything from turtles, to snakes, scorpions, tarantulas... and even some of nature's creepiest crawlers.
"All of our animals have a story, we love every single one of them and we love teaching people about them and why they're important."
Continuing the tour at the Nature Center, you'll head into the conservatory. Here, you can get face to face with prairie dogs, meet Rex the Roadrunner, and maybe even feed the quail some meal worms.
"We provide homes for animals that don't have anywhere else to go."
One of the best parts about coming to the RBNC is having the chance to get up close and personal with the plants and animals you might not notice in your everyday life. The Nature Center will give you a newfound appreciation for the area you live in.
"There is all kinds of stuff to see and do here. You will not be bored, and you'll definitely leave with more information than you came with."
Right outside of the conservatory, you'll find hiking trails and 18 acres of a bottom land forest. Let the kiddos dig for dinosaur bones, net out some fish, and simply enjoy the many creatures that roam free.
"Squirrels and bunnies and deer, armadillos and racoons which are so mischievous, but really cool to watch."
But even more special than seeing these critters roam is showing visitors something that is often overlooked.
"With a lot of children, there's a disconnect between nature and people, and what we do is heal that and get you back in touch with your environment and why it's so important to conserve it."
Another thing you'll get on your visit, a friendly staff who is passionate about taking care of the many species that call the River Bend Nature Center home.
"Everything here, I love. They're a family. Our little furry feathered friends, they all have personalities and quirks, it's crazy!"
The River Bend Nature Center is a 501-C3 non-profit, so the majority of income comes from private donors and grants. You can help contribute just by visiting! The Nature Center is open 7 days a week except on major holidays. General admission is $5 and each visitor helps further their mission of connecting people to the world around them.
If you'd like to learn more about the River Bend Nature Center, just visit their website at riverbendnaturecenter.org.