A Secret Garden in the Heart of Weslaco

The newly beautified headquarters of the Valley Nature Center. Photos: Bill Keltner/LFN

The newly beautified headquarters of the Valley Nature Center. Photos: Bill Keltner/LFN

A Valley Nature Center with a Mission

by Bill Keltner/LFN

Set in the midst of Weslaco, lies a six acre Nature Park that has been dedicated to provide knowledge and understanding to the children and adults of the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s unique natural communities of plants, bugs, birds and animals. This impressive nature center should be on everybody’s “must do” list each year, as it just keeps getting bigger and better with time.

The park has a mile of interpretive well-marked trails through a re-created Tamaulipan thorn-scrub forest, with an extensive collection of South Texas native plants. Bird lovers will be happy to learn that migrating birds regularly make the Weslaco nature park a welcome stop for food and rest on their sojourn north or south.

UTRGV Biology student Brenda Rodriguez and her mom tour the Valley Nature Center.

UTRGV Biology student Brenda Rodriguez and her mom tour the Valley Nature Center.

Emely Orozco is the Education Director of the nature center. She proudly pointed out the addition of the new Butterfly Garden and new areas for live animals and reptiles in the park. “We have 12 feeding stations, 10 Hummingbird feeders, and now, 5 butterfly feeders to attract and support our animal population,” she said. “We have regular visitors who just like to drop in and enjoy this slice of nature in downtown Weslaco.

“It is interesting that the idea of a park in downtown Weslaco began as a petting zoo, but the popularity of the unique, little secret garden just kept growing until it is now a really worthwhile destination for everybody,“ she said.

Trained nature guides ready to give you a walking tour.

Trained nature guides ready to give you a walking tour.

Orozco added that the new office and exhibit hall and the improvements throughout the park were made possible by generous Grants and donations from Gladys Porter Zoo,” she said, adding: “all the plants and animals you see are native to Texas or Mexico.”

Excited visitors sight rare Mexican turtles in the park streams.

Excited visitors sight rare Mexican turtles in the park streams.

The nature programs include: Nature Speaker Series, Birding and Nature Field Trips, School field trips, Wildlife Art and Photo Displays, Birding Classes, Guided Tours, Teacher in-Services with Credit Hours. The VNC is located in Gibson Park one block South of Business 83 on Border Avenue. The Nature Center is closed on Monday, but open Tuesday through Friday from 9am-5pm. Saturday from 8am-5 pm and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Adult fees are $5.00, Seniors 55 plus are $3.00, and children under 12 are admitted for $2.00. Why not plan a day in the forest at Valley Nature Center?

For more information call Emely Orozco, Education Director at 956-969-2475 or email eorozco@valleynaturecenter.org.

Visit the Nature Center’s website at www.valleynaturecenter.org.

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