Earth Week starts on April 17 at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, Texas. Shangri La will offer programs and informational talks regarding the environment and earth-friendly practices, throughout the week activities, concluding with a two-day celebration at Eco-Fest on April 21 and 22, and a Butterfly Release on Earth Day, April 22, at 2 p.m. Shangri La opens at noon on Sunday, April 22, and all entry fees (except for Outpost Tours) will be waived for visitors in celebration of Earth Day.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the entire family to learn about the importance of being kind to the world and enjoy a day in a beautiful garden and nature center. This year Shangri La will offer more activities for children of all ages along with a greater variety of exhibitors,” says Shangri La Director, Michael Hoke.

During Earth Week from April 17 through April 20, Shangri La will have daily educational excursions and activities that visitors can attend. Space is limited for these activities and a reservation is required. Call 409.670.9799 to make a reservation. For more information about these programs, visit www.shangrilagardens.org.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Evening Outpost Tour (6 – 7 p.m.)

Come experience Adams Bayou during the dusk hours for an opportunity to see nesting birds returning to Shangri La’s heronry for the night or alligators searching for a bite to eat. This program is for adults and children 4 years of age or older. Space is limited; call 409.670.9799 to reserve a seat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bird and Outpost Tours (7 – 8 a.m.)

During this peaceful morning excursion, visitors will take a trip to the Beaver Pond and Outpost to walk the trails in search of migrating birds. Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars. This program is for adults and children 4 years of age and older. Space is limited; call 409.670.9799 to reserve a seat.

Evening Orienteering (6 – 7 p.m.)

Visit Shangri La for an introduction to the world of orienteering. This family program will teach visitors the basics of using a map and compass to navigate from point to point. Space is limited; call 409.670.9799 to reserve a seat.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Twilight Hike (6 – 7 p.m.)

Visitors of all ages are invited to participate in a short hike through the forest and swamps of Shangri La. Participants will watch and listen for any active wildlife. Learn to distinguish between animals that are diurnal, nocturnal and crepuscular. Visitors will also play games to understand how these different animals hunt and communicate. Space is limited; call 409.670.9799 to reserve a seat.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Evening Outpost Tour (6 – 7 p.m.)

Come experience Adams Bayou during the dusk hours for an opportunity to see nesting birds returning to Shangri La’s heronry for the night or alligators searching for a bite to eat. This program is for adults and children 4 years of age or older. Space is limited; call 409-670-9799 to reserve a seat.

Beginning on April 21, Shangri La kicks off Eco-Fest, an educational family event that combines learning and fun for children of all ages. During the festival, children and adults can participate in activities throughout several designated Fun Zones, see skits and visit Maxine the Owl in the Performance Tent, and learn more about the Earth and earth-friendly products and practices. Booths will have eco-friendly information, and children will delight in crafts and games.

For children, the day will be filled with activities, including skits, art activities, face painting and scavenger hunts. There will several Fun Zone with different activities such as Making a Seed Bomb in the Children’s Garden, Nature Art on the Great Lawn, Making Paper in the Nature Discovery Center and much, much more.

For adults (and children of all ages), information booths set-up by “green” organizations and companies will provide information and samples on earth-friendly products, services and opportunities. Some of the local business and organizations participating this year are Wild Birds Unlimited, Native Plant Society of Texas, Metal Art, Southeast Texas Energy Savers, Tree Frog Coffees, Golden Triangle Sierra Club, Big Thicket Natural Preserve, Arbor Energy, Golden Triangle Bromeliad Society, Pure Earth Botanicals, Lake Charles Bird Club, Urban Harvest, Waste Management Corporation, Sabine River Authority and many more.

Also, there will be presentations throughout the day on April 21, providing information on the latest in energy solutions, gardening and nature. Below is the schedule for presentations:

Going Solar! (10 a.m.) – Ever considered how to reduce your carbon footprint? Join Steve and Ledena Howard in this adult program as they talk on the advantages and financial incentives of solar energy.

Lasagna Gardening (11 a.m.) – Speaker Sandra Hoke, a certified Master Gardener, will provide details on gardening by use of a layering technique to grow food organically without hoeing.

Joy of Growing Your Own Food (1:00 p.m.) – Enjoy a talk by Laurel Smith, Director of Houston Urban Gardeners, on how to create a home garden to easily grow vegetables.

Bonsai for Beginners (1 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) – During this hands-on program, visitors will prune and shape yaupon, juniper or ficus bonsai. This intensive session will offer personal attention to attendees. There is a materials fee of $20 and a reservation is required; call 409.670.9799 to reserve a seat.

Up-Close with Nature (2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.) – Walk-up visitors will discover which critters are active at Shangri La during the spring. Stop by the Star and Crescent Moon Café at Shangri La for this program and see several live animals and learn about their behavior and habitat.

In addition to the activities at Shangri La, Stark Museum of Art is planning a later event in relation to the Earth Day celebration. The Museum is hosting a video screening about John James Audubon on April 28 at 3:00 p.m. at the Education Center located at 812 Green Avenue in Orange. The documentary, A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon in Louisiana, explores the profound influence that Louisiana had on Audubon’s study of birds and touches on conservation issues. Following the screening, attendees are invited to visit the Audubon exhibit in the Museum. Admission is free of charge and light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit www.starkmuseum.org.

Located at 2111 West Park Avenue in Orange, Texas, Shangri La is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (with Admission Window closing each day at 4 p.m.) For more information, call 409-670-9113 or visit www.shangrilagardens.org.