If you have never been to the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Refuge up in McKinney, you are missing one of the truly wonderful reasons for living in North Texas. For those who think Collin County's nothing more than a paved-over paradise, an extension of North Dallas stuffed with franchised mini-malls, well, you clearly ain't stepped foot on the 289 acres of fields and swamps and gardens and tree-lined trails they've got up there. The place has everything for the kiddie who can barely walk to the experienced hiker, and if this sounds like an ad for the place, well, it's only because last time I went it was after a 20-year absence and only by accident. (Went for an hour, stayed for the day and plan on going back soon--maybe for the nighttime hike coming up July 8, for which you have to pre-register.)
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All of this is a long preface to this item from the McKinney Courier-Gazette Star, which reports that students from Townview High School, Kimball, South Oak Cliff and other Dallas inner-city schools are spending the summer up at the Heard learning about nature preservation and reclaimation, which beats a few weeks on the couch in front of the TV, says one student (and all their parents, most likely). This marks the first time since its founding in 1957 that the national non-profit Student Conservation Association has done any work in Dallas schools, and the kid'll spend some six weeks working on the trails and in the woods; sounds like fun, except for the heat and bugs. But there's a substantial bonus: The story says the kids get $1,000 for their efforts, which means it pays better than this gig and you get to spend all day outside in the wild. Trade? --Robert Wilonsky