Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park


Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park offers eight standard programs for field trips at the park.

Choose from the following menu of programs, with age-appropriate curriculum. We can also do special programs upon request in advance.

Bird Walk 101

Two kids using binocularsBentsen is one of the top birding desti­na­tions in the country. It offers sightings of a treasure trove of “Valley specialties,” tropical birds found nowhere else in the United States.

Students will learn how to use binoculars, scopes, field guides and a checklist while seeing some amazing native birds. After the guided bird walk, your young birders will be able to use these new skills in other area parks and in their own school yards and backyards.

Animal Adaptations

Park ranger showing nature items to kidsWildlife of all types have different adap­ta­tions. We will explore the amazing adap­ta­tions of the wildlife of the Rio Grande Valley.

Students will be able to see and touch real animal furs, skulls and other related mate­rials through this hands-on show-and-tell. We will also discuss how and why certain adap­ta­tions have evolved and reinforce common terminology that is TEKS-aligned.

Aquatic Investigations

Kids looking at water sample in jarThis introduction to the mysterious under­water inhabitants of Bentsen’s La Parida Banco Resaca and other bodies of fresh water will fascinate your students. Join us as we closely investigate creatures that lie beneath the surface of our waters.

Students will learn how we use species diversity to determine the health of our water through collection and research. Students will also understand how pollutants and runoff affect wildlife and possibly even the water we drink, if we are not good stewards of our natural resources.

What Does Water Do?

Water body with tree and grass in foregroundWe will discuss and explore the water cycle, erosion, runoff and the distribution of water on the planet in this program.

Students will see the effects of erosion firsthand on a walk down Green Jay Trail. Students will also gain a greater under­standing and respect for how precious water is as we discuss water distribution throughout the world.

We will also learn how water is continually being recycled, and what actions we can take to ensure that the planet continues to provide fresh, clean water for wildlife and for humans.

Nature Walk

small butterflyAs one of the larger tracts of the Rio Grande floodplain forest remaining in this area, Bentsen is a great place to discover nature in South Texas. This guided nature walk offers students a chance to see wildlife in their natural habitats.

In addition to hiking a trail in search of local native plants and animals, students will also learn trail etiquette and habitat types. We encourage students to use their sense of smell, hearing and, of course, sight during this program.

Migration Exploration

Hawk flyingTake a journey with us and imagine what it is like to migrate like a bird.

During this program, students will gain an understanding of when and why birds migrate, the use of thermals and weather fronts during migration, and the impor­tance of adequate habitats for birds on the move and in their breeding or wintering territories.

This program is usually activity-based but during certain times of the year we may be able to visit the Hawk Tower and witness migration firsthand.

Life Cycles

Group of kids sitting outside and  listening to park rangersFrom tiny eggs to new life forms, this program cycles through the four stages of meta­mor­phosis.

Younger students will get to imagine what it is like to start out as a frog or a butterfly egg and grow to adulthood. We usually showcase live examples of tadpoles, toads, caterpillars and butterflies during this program.

Older students will hear about the life cycles of dragonflies and explore how they are sometimes fierce predators and other times prey for the same species of animal.

Exhibit Hall, Garden and Gift Store

Two kids looking at exhibitGroups of students will rotate through the store, exhibit hall and gardens.

The exhibit hall has interactive displays explaining the history, habitats and wildlife of the area. On the garden walk, we will discuss how land that was once farmland has been transformed into the lush habitat you see today.