When I think of Dallas, I think of a busy metropolis: crammed highways, glass skyscrapers, and bustling people. When I think of Dallas, I certainly don’t think of nature. But just ten miles south of downtown Dallas lies the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States: the Great Trinity Forest.
What’s more surprising, this forest only recently became a haven to a wide array of plant and animal species. Before, piles of trash occupied these acres, and it served as an illegal dump site.
Now, vegetation spans 6,000 acres. Wildflowers dot the landscape, and turtles swim in the ponds. The Audubon Center itself, an eco-friendly, avant-garde building, is a sight to behold and has garnered many architectural awards.
Vogel Alcove campers visited the Audubon Center on Friday. A guide led the campers on a trail, explaining concepts such as adaptation, commensalism, and pollination along the way. The campers peered through microscopes, examining leafy plants and tiny insects.
After the nature walk, the campers filed into one of the Audubon Center’s classrooms. There, they mixed clay, seeds, and water and shaped the concoction into a ball. With these balls, the guide explained, campers helped the Audubon Center to increase biodiversity on its grounds. When employees spread them across the forest, a diverse array of plants would grow.
Next, the guide introduced the campers to a turtle, asking them whether they thought it was a female or male, whether they thought it preferred land or water, and whether they thought it moved fast or slow. After pointing out characteristics that imparted the turtle’s gender, preferred habitat, and speed, the guide walked around, letting campers hold two fingers up to pet the turtle.
Vogel Alcove’s trip to the Audubon Center allowed the campers to explore nature right here in Dallas. Campers breathed the fresh air of the outdoors while learning about their surrounding ecosystem.