San Jacinto College faculty, staff, and students helped clean up portions of Greens Bayou, earning the College the Bayou Buddy award. Shown working together at a cleanup project are, from left, San Jacinto College student Maria Reyna, and science professors Stephan Lorenz and Susan Lustick. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing department.
San Jacinto College earns Bayou Buddy award
Rob Vanya -- March 5, 2013
HOUSTON — San Jacinto College recently earned the Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition’s (GBCC) Bayou Buddy award, based on the College’s “real dedication to the care and restoration of the watershed.”
Faculty, staff, and students from the College participated in volunteer efforts to clean up trash, and remove tires and invasive plants, replacing them with native plants such as cannas, lizard plants, and irises. The College also helped in initial cleanup efforts at a canoe launch project that is in the works, Thomas Bell Foster Park. The canoe launch park, located near the Interstate 10 East Freeway bridge over Greens Bayou, is scheduled to open to the public in late 2013.
Biology students who helped in the Greens Bayou cleanup projects discovered how rewarding community service can be. They also discovered the bayou is a giant outdoor biology laboratory just waiting to be explored.
“I learned when picking up trash that some bottles contained awesome bacteria that were great for examinations in class,” commented Desiree David, a member of San Jacinto College North Campus’ Science Club. “Also, just being a part of helping to create something awesome for the whole community to enjoy is cool. I can’t wait until the canoe launch is finished so I can go canoeing.”
Fellow biology student Chelsea Martinez said such outside-the-classroom experience helps to bring science to life. “Being able to volunteer with professors who have experience in these fields was extremely helpful,” she commented. “Being able to see the specimens discussed in class and getting to ask relevant questions was a great learning experience. It’s real hands-on learning.”
San Jacinto College biology professor Susan Lustick, who also serves as chair of the North Campus Green Team, said cleaning up the bayou helps students see the importance of biodiversity and the value of preserving habitats for native species. “Helping to clean up Greens Bayou puts sustainability principles into action, which is what the College’s Green Team is all about,” Lustick said. “We are glad to be a part of maintaining good stewardship of the watershed and bayou habitats that provide homes for wildlife. Removal of the trash and invasive species helps preserve biodiversity.”
The slow-moving, murky waters of Greens Bayou may not appear aesthetically attractive, but Lustick says the waterway is nevertheless very important to the region. “Greens Bayou offers recreational activities, such as canoeing and birding,” she remarked. “The bayou has natural beauty and is home to plants and wildlife. Houston’s bayous are valuable drainage systems as well as green space.”
GBCC Executive Director Jill Boullion expresses similar views. “Harris County contains 22 watersheds and the Greens Bayou watershed is one of the largest,” she explained. “Bayous are the most defining natural feature in our region and impact a large percentage of our population. Nearly every waterway in the county is impaired and they all flow into Galveston Bay, a vital regional estuary, and have an impact on the marine species that live there. Besides, we believe our bayous can be beautiful assets with trails and parks alongside.”
Boullion said it is vital for organizations such as San Jacinto College to help the coalition in its mission to maintain and enhance Greens Bayou. “Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition is a grass roots organization and relies heavily on community participation,” she said. “With a staff of two and a volunteer board of 26, much of the hands-on work is done by community groups. We have a great partnership with the biology staff, students, and with the Green Team, and San Jacinto College is very deserving of the Bayou Buddy recognition.”
San Jacinto College volunteers will be involved with trash removal, small invasive plant removal, and wetlands planting along Greens Bayou in mid-April. “We are proud to be a Bayou Buddy and look forward to strengthening our partnership with the bayou coalition,” commented Lustick. “Faculty, staff, and students find the bayou cleanups rewarding, and they feel good about helping to develop a canoe park right here in our community.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
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