Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bob Jones Nature Center Gets Naturally Sweet

Ever since it opened, Bob Jones Park has become one the area’s most popular recreational facilities and at nearly 500 acres, it is the city’s largest park. Named for John Dolford “Bob” Jones, a freed slave who came to the area in the 1850s and eventually owned much of the land where the park is located, Southlake City Council voted unanimously to honor his memory with the namesake.

A combination of purchased acres and land leased to the city by the Corps of Engineers, Bob Jones Park has evolved into a year-round destination for team sports, outdoor hobbies, personal fitness and family fun.

One of the most unique amenities of the park is the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve (www.bjnc.org), which opened April 2008 with this mission: The preservation of local natural resources and history; accomplished by providing places of compatible recreation, and fostering education about our natural environment.

In addition to offering nature classes, guest speakers, exhibits, guided hikes, youth camps, outdoor concerts, and a gift shop, a top priority for Bob Jones Nature Center is to preserve and conserve a prime remnant of the Cross Timbers ecosystem – a vast mixture of grasslands and woodlands stretching from Canada to South America and encompassing most of the park’s 500 acres.

According to Emily Galpin, executive director of Bob Jones Nature Center, future plans include adding acres of the Cross Timbers habitat to the nature preserve, which will allow more programs to be offered to the community.

“One of our goals is to be an environmental education center for the region, teaching and demonstrating the importance of our natural resources such as water conservation, renewable energy and recycling,” Galpin said.

Bob Jones Nature Center is funded in part by the City of Southlake (receives 10 percent of park fees), but relies primarily on private donations and volunteers for daily operations, programs and events.

One of its most popular annual fundraising events is “Naturally Sweet,” which will be held Saturday, November 6, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve (355 E. Bob Jones Road).

Naturally Sweet Features

Sweet and savory samplings

Wine pairings

Silent auction

Exhibits by local artists

Winner of photography contest

Dirt & Earthy Vibes Band

Debra Edmondson, president of the board of directors for Bob Jones Nature Center, stated this year’s event is being expanded in multiple ways to increase attendance and awareness of the nature center.

“We are trying to make this year’s event even better by expanding the walking area to the pavilion, including more art exhibits, and offering appetizers to complement the desserts,” said Edmondson. “All of this is to support our year-round programs. The nature center is about education – it’s a very important component of what we do.”

For more information about Naturally Sweet or Bob Jones Nature Center, call 817-939-1110 or go to www.bjnc.org.