Growing Houston-Galveston Environmental Education

Galveston Bay Foundation & Partners Bring Administrators Together to Advance Local Environmental Education Efforts

By Cindy Wilems

At Galveston Bay Foundation, empowering students to become life-long advocates for a resilient Bay is a key priority. That’s why Galveston Bay Foundation and the University of Houston – Clear Lake brought school district administrators from around the Houston-Galveston region together on June 20, 2019 to participate in an exclusive seminar to learn about innovative environmental education initiatives locally and nationwide. The Environmental Education Seminar for Administrators was made possible by partnership grant awarded by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, a program of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA.

The purpose of the symposium was to inform local school administrators of the benefits of incorporating environmental education into classroom curriculum; discuss its alignment to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills; give tools and resources to enable the support of campus teachers in environmental education efforts; and connect administrators to the Superintendent’s Environmental Education Collaborative, a coalition that supports partnerships between superintendents and environmental organizations.

Throughout the seminar, attendees from five local school districts (Clear Creek ISD, Houston ISD, Pasadena ISD, Galveston ISD, and Channelview ISD), heard from speakers who discussed environmental education success stories, opportunities for water quality testing education in the Galveston Bay watershed, the benefits of environmental education for students, and more.

Attendees also participated in field work demonstrations lead by Galveston Bay Foundation staff. Participants tested water quality, examined the health of the bay, viewed plankton under microscopes, learned about bird adaptations while viewing them with binoculars, and discussed the benefits of allowing students to have field experiences such as these.

The highlight of the morning was finding three Purple Martin nests with babies under the pavilion eaves – what a wonderful moment in nature! We hope to share experiences like these with even more students in the Houston-Galveston area, a sentiment that all seminar participants shared.

Galveston Bay Foundation also guided discussions with the group on the challenges of integrating environmental education, how the administrators could support their schools and teachers, and potential resources they can use during the next school year.

 “A well planned and thoughtful day. The professional learning was excellent! It was an honor to be present,” one seminar participant noted.

With leadership and commitment from school district administrators from around our region, many more students will experience the benefits from environmental education. In turn, this will empower students to become lifelong environmental advocates and lead to a healthier, more resilient Galveston Bay!

Thank you to our nationally recognized speakers and local community partners for participating in the seminar to discuss exciting programming opportunities: Kathy McGlauflin, Senior Advisor for the Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative, Laura Downey, the Executive Director of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, Harris County Precinct One, Artist Boat, TPWD Angler Education, Armand Bayou Nature Center, NOAA Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, Native Prairies Association of Texas, Texas Master Naturalist, and H-GAC.