Archive for the 'Education' Category

Become a Texas Waters Specialist

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
Learning about Texas water.

Learning about Texas water.

This is Passport to Texas

Water is a precious resource, and a new Texas Parks and Wildlife program helps citizens to become certified Texas Waters Specialists.

It comes down to appreciation for the natural world – to realize that everything’s connected. From humans to wildlife; we all need water to survive.

Colin Findley, an AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer, oversees the program, which covers ecosystems to water law.

There’s a curriculum, and also there’s webinars. It’s really just a matter of going to the Texas Parks [and Wildlife] website: Search for Texas Water Specialist, and it will take you to that page.

Anyone may register for the course.

There are specific requirements for Texas Master Naturalist, so if you are a Master Naturalist, you go through the representative for Texas Waters for your program to log those hours. But if you’re from the general public, it’s completely free. It takes eight hours of different program requirements to get your certification. To renew it – it’s all about community service. You have to do ten hours of water related community service each year.

Many volunteer opportunities exist for certified waters specialists.

Texas Stream Team. Texas Parks and Wildlife has different volunteer opportunities in terms of water quality, habitat conservation, restoration and management, freshwater inflows. And then, you know, there’s a lot of different coastal restoration projects as well.

Find information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas Aquatic Science Program

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
Texas Aquatic Science

The Texas Aquatic Science teaches educators how to present the topic to their students.

This is Passport to Texas

The Texas Aquatic Science curriculum covers a lot of ground, I mean, water. AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer, Colin Findley, coordinates the program for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

It’s getting people access to the outside world, and understanding the outside world in terms of water.

The program helps middle and high school teachers raise students’ awareness of the importance of water to life, aquatic ecosystems, and the effort necessary to conserve it all.

With Texas aquatic science, there’s the classroom capacity, and then there’s also what are called Texas Aquatic Science Certified field sites, which are state parks and other organizations that have access to water tied to the curriculum. So, you know, once an educator teaches the curriculum in the classroom, they can then go out and get full support from these aquatic science field sites.

Findley says Texas Aquatic Science is a full curriculum.

From sixth grade all the way up to twelfth. It’s TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) aligned. The greatest thing is that it’s completely free. So, the student textbooks online at, the teacher guides on the Texas Parks (and Wildlife) education page – it’s all there for any educator to have.

The program starts by identifying communities of greatest need, and then cultivates a core of facilitators.

That then teach workshops to spread the curriculum to educators throughout the state.

Find more information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Big or Small, WMAs Are Places to Learn

Friday, September 29th, 2017
Entrance to Justin Hurst WMA

Entrance to Justin Hurst WMA

This is Passport

Texas Landowners learn how to manage their acreage by emulating wildlife biologists who keep the state’s Wildlife Management Areas in top form.

Wildlife biologists go out on the WMAs and they take a look at what we have; what the baseline is. And then they take a look at historically what has been there in terms of vegetation and wild animals. They’ll determine what it takes to restore that habitat, or to enhance that habitat.

Dennis Gissell is Wildlife Management Area facilities coordinator. Texas Wildlife Management Areas’ encompass about three-quarters of a million acres.

[The] largest WMA is in east Texas – the Sam Houston National Forest, which is actually a US Forest Service Property that we lease/license from them to manage. It’s over 160-thousand acres. The smallest is near Corpus Christi.

And that WMA is only 36 acres! The aim is to have WMAs for teaching and research in each of the state’s 10 ego-regions. Every one provides opportunities for discovery and learning, even when they are small.

These smaller tracts of land have really unique features. In this case – this particular property – has a wetland and a pond that has historically, been very attractive to waterfowl.

Find more information about WMAs on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and helps to fund the management of Texas’ 50 Wildlife Management Areas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

A Brighter Future Starts Outdoors

Monday, September 18th, 2017
Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

Entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park, and location of an AmeriCorps Vista program.

This is Passport to Texas

They say you can never go home again. Just don’t tell that to Nicole Roque. After graduating college, she moved back to El Paso; in March, she took a job as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

AmeriCorps is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty.

Headquartered at Franklin Mountains State Park, Nicole says a question she usually gets is:

How are you alleviating poverty [via] parks?

Research supports the theory that people who engage the outdoors 30 minutes to one hour a day are happier, healthier and smarter.

Kids do better in school, they have higher self-esteem. They’re just more confident in general. It’s more than just going out and hiking.

A solid education, a high level of confidence and good self-esteem are all tools that help people to move beyond barriers and to lean into success.

We’re definitely looking to help kids feel more welcome by environmental science careers and STEM careers in general – and strengthen them in that way.

Tomorrow Nicole tells us about a program where El Pasoans turn trash into art while learning about environmental stewardship.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW Magazine — Texas Brigades

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Brigades is a wildlife and natural resource focused leadership development program for youth, 13 to 17.

Texas Brigades has been around for 25 years. It started out as Bobwhite Brigade back in 1993, and then it just kind of morphed.

It’s morphed into is eight summer camps, each with a different conservation focus. Aubry Buzek [Byu-zik] wrote about the Brigades for the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

What was really interesting is that these camps are not necessarily about learning about one particular species. At Bobwhite Brigade, they were learning a lot about quail—and they had biologists there teaching them about quail. But that wasn’t the overall goal of the program. It was about being comfortable with public speaking, comfortable talking with their peers. Debating.

These five-day intensive camps incorporate military marching and cadence, and introduce students to experts and activities that challenge and

I talked to a lot of parents after graduation and they were like, ‘Who is this kid?’ I saw it too. That confidence. A lot of parents said they didn’t expect their kid to know just so much. But, in addition to that knowledge, these kids are loud, and they’re marching, and they make a lot of friends. It really is a transformative camp.

Read Aubry Buzek’s story about the Texas Brigades in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.