|The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
spring 2012 | volume 18 | number 2
Bay Area Boulevard buzzes with activity on the other side of the trees, but those who discover the new wetland area at UHCL will feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. They might learn something about the local environment in the process too.
UHCL's Environmental Institute of Houston, working in partnership with and through funding from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, created a wetland area to provide habitat for wildlife and fish, and to improve water quality before the water enters Horsepen Bayou. But it has proven to do more than that. It has become a way for area children to strengthen their environmental education.
"A bunch of creatures live in the water," says 10-year-old Mason Penrod, a fourth-grader from Clear Creek Independent School District's Parr Elementary. "We need to learn to respect them— the water and the wildlife that live in and around the water."
"There are lots of different types of plants," adds 10-year-old CCISD North Point Elementary student Annie Nguyen. "I've always liked to play in water, but I've never really learned about it."
Both fourth-graders are part of just one of the many groups that will benefit from the educational programs offered by EIH at the new wetland area.
"Water is a precious natural resource and the UHCL wetland is an interesting place to teach fourth graders from the science trek class," says UHCL Habitat Curriculum Specialist Sheila Brown, who leads students from 11 CCISD elementary schools through the fourth-grade science trek class. "It is extremely important for them to gain awareness about the birds, aquatic organisms and plants."
George Guillen, executive director of EIH and associate professor of biology and environmental science, expresses pride in knowing that the wetland area is being used just as it should be.
"Wetlands are important for a number of reasons and having developed one on campus is signifi cant, not only to UHCL, but also to the Bay Area community," says Guillen. "In addition to controlling flooding and improving water quality, the newly added wetland area will provide a habitat for fish and wildlife, which offers teaching, learning and research opportunities."
Looking to future generations, the institute, Galveston Bay Estuary Program and its parent organization, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, emphasize the importance of creating wetland areas like the one at UHCL.
"This project is special to me," says Galveston Bay Estuary Program Executive Director and UHCL alumna Helen Drummond. "Not only did I attend graduate school at UHCL, but I personally love this campus because it was built with nature in mind."
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