SPARK School Park Program
Purpose: The SPARK School Program works with schools and neighborhoods to develop community parks on public school grounds. In the past 30 years, SPARK has built over 200+ community parks throughout the Houston/Harris County area. Each park is unique, with its design based on ideas and needs of the school and surrounding neighborhoods. While all of the parks are different, a typical park consists of modular playground equipment, a walking trail, benches, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom, and a public art component. SPARK Parks are available for public use during non-school hours and on weekends.
Programs: SPARK has built 200+ community parks in twelve different school districts throughout the Houston area. Each park is designed based on ideas and needs of the school and surrounding neighborhoods. While all of the parks are different, a typical park consists of modular playground equipment, a walking trail, benches, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom, and a public art component.
Publications: SPARK Art calendar
Kathleen Ownby, Executive Director
Diane Cannon, Assistant Director
Sheldon State Park and Envir. Learning Center
Purpose: Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center is a 2,800-acre outdoor education and recreation facility located in northeast Harris County. It offers year round adult and family programs and activities as well as field trip opportunities for students of all ages. Beginning in 2003, the park is became an important restoration site for tall grass prairie. The park is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lake, its banks, and levees are open from sunrise to sunset.
Programs: The park offers a variety of nature and ecology programs to organized groups on a reservation basis. Park staff and volunteers provide programs on nature/ecology, nature walks, catch-and-release fishing in two stocked ponds (fishing poles provided), pond ecology, native plant gardening, hunter education, composting and recycling. Programs range in time from one to two hours each.
Events: For a complete listing of the park’s daily events, please visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/sheldon-lake/park_events
Activities: Sheldon Lake is open every day to public fishing with appropriate licenses. Birding, wildlife/nature study, hiking, and fishing for children. The park includes a 0.5-mile self-guided nature trail that passes 28 naturalized ponds that contain alligators and other wildlife. (Binoculars are recommended for best viewing.) Free catch-and-release family fishing is permitted for children accompanied by adults, in the two fishing ponds. Alternative energy technologies and green building techniques (photovoltaic, solar hot water, wind turbine and ground coupled-geothermal) are demonstrated at the Pond Center. A wildscape demonstration garden shows techniques for using native plants and wildflowers to attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your backyard.
Volunteer Opportunities: For information on volunteer opportunities at Sheldon Lake, contact the park at (281) 456-2800
Sierra Club – Hou. Regional Group
Purpose: To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
Meetings: Second Thurs., 7:30 p.m., St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1805 West Alabama at Woodhead. OPEN TO PUBLIC.
Major Events: Trips, workshops, outings, and classes; Yard Sale, spring; Annual Auction, at December meeting.
Recreational Outings: Open to members and non-members. See listing on website.
Children’s Activities: Inner City Outings program. Contact Lorraine Gibson at [email protected].
Volunteer Opportunities: Issues include water & air quality, watershed, sustainability, energy, forestry, and parks & wildlife; Political Committee endorsements; legislative issues and letter writing; trail maintenance on Lone Star Hiking Trail; training for leading outings.
Publications: Bayou Banner, monthly (call for free copy or print PDF version from website).
Brandt Mannchen, Executive Committee Chair
Evelyn L. Merz, Conservation Chair
Carol Woronow, Bayou Banner and Newsletter Editor,
Melanie Oldham, Air Quality
Brandt Mannchen, Forestry and Big Thicket
State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR)
Purpose: To advance recycling through partnerships, education, and advocacy for the benefit of Texas.
Major Events: Annual Texas Recycling Summit– September 9-11, 2019 at the El Tropicano Hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.
Texas Compost Summit– will take place October 2019. Date and location TBD.
Publications: STAR is helping Texans to learn more about the recycling industry through free informational webinars and quarterly e-newsletters. Sign up to receive e-newsletters on the STAR website or by emailing [email protected].
Erin Andary, Communications & Programs Manager
Shell Center for Sustainability at Rice U
Purpose: The Shell Center for Sustainability’s mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities’ living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life. In our Vision, the Shell Center for Sustainability is the regional expert in Gulf Coast sustainable development by fostering academic research, outreach and education initiatives in interdisciplinary partnerships and through collaborations that extend outreach from the Florida Keys to the Yucatan Peninsula with strong focus in the Houston and Galveston Region.
Programs: The Center supports faculty research on critical matters such as understanding ozone formation and the impact of invasive species on biodiversity. We foster awareness of sustainability issues among our students by providing unusual opportunities to learn about how diverse elements of society may contribute to the sustainability of our planet.
Events: Land Use Conference, Research, Outreach, Presentations, Reports and Publications.
Publications: Shell Center for Sustainability Annual Report, Quality of Life
Atlas, Sustainable Communities and Public Education. All accessible online.
Speakers: Yes – Video presentations available online.
Dr. John B. Anderson, Academic Director
Lilibeth André, Associate Director
Operations, Administration & Public Relations
Purpose: A volunteer membership service organization dedicated to creating land trusts of scenic habitat conservation preserves currently at 6,000 acres. Includes permanent protection and restoration of the 1,058-acre John M. O’Quinn I-45 Scenic Estuarial Corridor, the natural marsh gateway to Galveston; the contiguous 1,840 acres of native coastal prairie and wetland habitat on the Virginia Point Peninsula Preserve, and 3,000+ acres as stewards of conservation easement prairies/wetlands on north West Galveston Bay. SG provides archeological protection of National Register Pending 1860 Fort Hebert, the naval origination of the “Battle of Galveston” and 6 other important historical sites on VPPP.
Major Events/Volunteer Opportunities: Partnership cleaning events, April and September, with GLO in Adopt-A-Beach/Estuary and Rivers, Bays N’ Bayous March Trash Bash, along with volunteer day maintenance, coastal erosion projects, prairie and Galveston Bay shoreline plantings, controlled burns, herbiciding, oyster work, participating in bird surveys, including Great Texas Bird Classic, Christmas Bird Count, with other outings and registration at Reitan Point in the preserve.
Birders, fishers, paddlers, kayakers, researchers, and other visitors are welcome every day for non-intrusive public uses. Vehicles, hunting, dumping and fireworks are not permitted.
Evangeline Loessin Whorton, Founder and Chairman
Networking Guild – “Friends of the Preserve” Site partner GCBO
Save Buffalo Bayou
Purpose: To educate the public and public officials about proper land management on our many streams, drawing on the latest science, and to advocate for enlightened flood and erosion control and drainage policies and practices that respect the natural process of our local bayous and creeks, their floodplains and watersheds, the trees and vegetation growing on their banks, all of which are so vital for the health of our waters, our environment, and us.
Programs: Paddle with geologist Tom Helm on a two-hour floating class down a historic nature area on Buffalo Bayou. Learn about our 18,000 year old bayou, about the formation of the bluffs and sandstone rocks during the last ice age, and see how the sand moves downstream, why the way the river looks the way it does, and much more. Classes can be scheduled any day of the week for small groups; larger groups can schedule for weekends only.
Frank C. Smith, Jr., Board Founding President
Susan Chadwick, Executive Director
Student Conservation Association
Purpose: To build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
Programs: A year-round volunteer program and a paid summer job opportunity for high school students, each featuring hands-on outdoor service learning, camping and outdoor recreation. Additional paid and volunteer programs all over the country for students and adults.
Major Events: Martin Luther King Day and Earth Day.
Volunteer Opportunities: SCA offers local and national, paid and volunteer opportunities for ages 15 and up, in over 50 disciplines. These include paid Summer Community Crews, volunteer School Year Crews, Conservation and Education Corps and Internships all over the country. See our website for more details or contact Julie Mintzer.
Valeria De Casa, Houston Program Coordinator
Surfrider Foundation – Texas Chapter
Purpose: To preserve and protect the Texas coast and it’s recreational resources. To defend the Texas Open Beaches Act. Our issues are water quality, beach access, erosion, and coastal development. Our goal is to stand on the beach 30 years from now and be able to say, “We made the right decisions.” We were founded in 1999.
Meetings: 3rd Tuesday of the month in Houston.
Programs: Respect the Beach – education program for schools; Blue Water Task Force – beach water testing; Rise Above Plastics – reduce plastic pollution; Ocean Friendly Gardens – reduce urban runoff.
Children’s Activities: Science and education projects, beach activities, surf lessons.
Volunteer Opportunities: beach cleanups, public education programs, water testing, fundraising, government relations, public relations, and advertising.
Publications: “Making Waves” – national publication (monthly publication also available on the web) Beachapedia – internet resource beachapedia.org/Main_P
Ellis Pickett, Chairman
Pamela Walters, Volunteer Coordinator
Media/Press/Speakers Bureau: Ellis Pickett
Purpose: Scenic Houston works to eliminate visual blight because all Houstonians are entitled to a green, uncluttered, visually appealing city. Scenic Houston promotes sign control, billboard reduction, freeway landscaping, scenic byway development, and enhanced design standards for public projects. Our success improves the quality of life for all Houstonians.
Major Events: Scenic Visionary Awards Dinner, October.
Volunteer Opportunities: Young Friends Initiatives, Scenic Action network, assisting with special events, outreach. Contact the office for more information.
Publications: Scenic Views e-newsletter, legislative alerts as needed, brochures, articles, blog.
Anne Culver, President
Sherry Weesner, Director of Projects