Houston Environmental News Update April 8, 2020

Eastern Cottontail hoppin’ down the bayou trail, City Nature Challenge, HARC regional mobility study, Birdathon, Telework 101, Green Jobs, and more

Want to get outside (in person or vicariously), contribute to scientific research, learn about local flora and fauna, entertain your friends and family, be a part of something bigger, and help the Houston region kick some you-know-what? If so, you are in luck! The iNaturalist City Nature Challenge is just around the corner, from April 24 – 27, 2020. 

Join Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Master Naturalists, The Nature Conservancy in Texas, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Audubon Society, and many others in a fun challenge to see which city can document the most species during the three-day challenge. Last year, Houston placed first in the US and third globally for species diversity in the Challenge.

It is easy to participate by making observations on your own using the iNaturalist app. With the iNaturalist app, you just take a picture of a plant or animal, and the community will help identify which species it is. Any observation in the greater metropolitan area of Houston will count during the four-day challenge. You can participate by exploring the life in your backyard, in your local park, or on a socially-distanced field trip. You can also help with IDs for other people’s observations to increase our species count.

To get ready, the local organizers for the Challenge are hosting two free, virtual events (registration required): 

The banner and accompanying photos are all local iNaturalist observations. The banner shows three species of rabbit that have been observed in the region: Eastern cottontail (by birdnerdnariman), black-tailed jackrabbit (by MEWATERS), and a Swamp Rabbit (also by birdnerdnariman). The other photos are of resurrection fern (by Clayton Bownds) and an attwater’s Prairie Chicken who might have been hiding eggs.

Please scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community.


CEC Seeks School District Partner for Recycling Grant

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Keep Houston Beautiful are looking for a public school district to partner with on an upcoming grant. Bring the “Waste-In-Place” curricula to teachers, and empower students to reduce waste in their own community. Contact Alicia for further information.

Greater Houston Environmental Summit – Call for Presenters

Share the story of your environmental work and inspire our community to take action! CEC is soliciting proposals for table talk hosts and presenters for the Greater Houston Environmental Summit on Friday, August 7, 2020. Learn more and submit your proposal using this Google Form. Proposals due April 31, 2020.

Online Environmental Learning Activities & hereinhouston.org

Many of CEC’s member organizations, and others, are stepping up and providing environmental education resources for teachers, parent/teachers, and others. View the list or visit CEC’s hereinhouston.org website to learn about other environmental education resources. Here are two new opportunities this week:

  • Texas Children in Nature created a calendar for Texas’ environmental Facebook Live events. For example, visit with Houston Zookeepers daily at 11, or join Texas Outdoor Family for a camp in. Send additional events to Sarah Coles. Find additional regional resources on the HERE in Houston page.
  • Harris-Galveston Subsidence District is getting creative with their outreach. Join Kristi Pierce for storytime with your own young children. She brings the story to life with turtles and horses; two stories are uploaded to HERE in Houston, with more on the way. If you’d like to add your own storytelling video, send the YouTube link to Alicia.

CEC Volunteer Info Session May 19 online

CEC seeks individuals who might be interested in volunteering to help with our website and newsletter, plan events, design graphics, serve on one of our committees (programs, communications, finance, fundraising and development, membership, and governance) this year, or possibly joining our board of directors in January 2021. We are hosting information sessions for prospective volunteers to learn more about the ongoing opportunities. Upcoming sessions include the evenings of May 19, and June 30. For more information, please email rachel@cechouston.org, or join us online at Google Hangouts.

Summer Internships with CEC

The CEC will be hiring several interns this summer, and is conducting interviews this month. If you or someone you know would like to help with and learn about communication, marketing, policy, government, publications, journalism, digital media, fundraising, event coordination, business development, filmmaking, bookkeeping, and/or accounting, we invite you to learn more at cechouston.org. We post opportunities with our member organizations can be found on CEC’s Green Jobs page.

Earth Day HoustonSuspended

In response to the outbreak the Discovery Green Conservancy is canceling, or postponing, all events scheduled through May 15, including Earth Day Houston, previously scheduled for Sunday, April 19, 2020. The event will be held on April 18, 2021. We will be emailing additional information to exhibitors, sponsors, and volunteers. In the meantime, learn how, internationally, Earth Day is going digital.

The Living Coast and Montopolis at MATCH

On June 12, 2020, MATCH will present The Living Coast, combining a gorgeous nature film, dynamic storytelling and live music performance to explore the Texas Gulf Coast (see the trailer). Montopolis features members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Texas’ best rock musicians touring with an environmental scientist. The show is a love letter to the region as well as an opportunity to discuss broader environmental challenges. Proceeds will be be donated to the Matagorda Bay Foundation and the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit matchouston.org.


We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts, particularly in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), as there are continuing cancellations of events over the next several weeks.

Houston Arboretum #EarthMonth Blog

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center has launched a blog about #EarthMonth. Every week in April, visit their blog to find kid-friendly activities to do at home. This week’s challenge: produce at least one cool, artistic item using recycled materials. Share photos on their Facebook page.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary recruiting for Advisory Council

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for one seat on its advisory council, a community-based group of individuals that provide advice for sanctuary management. The sanctuary is accepting applications for one Oil and Gas Industry seat. Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations, and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve 3-year terms. Applications for this recruitment cycle are due April 16, 2020

The Wonders of Coastal Wetlands

On April 19, 2020, from 6-7 p.m., Christ the King Lutheran Church will host an online presentation by UH Professor Steven Pennings about the benefits we derive from coastal wetlands, the threats facing them, and why we have reason to expect that wetlands will survive despite ongoing global change. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.

EPA Seeks Nominations for Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals

EPA is announcing its request for nominations of candidates for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). Nominations are due no later than April 20, 2020. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment to the SACC. Individuals also may self-nominate. The preferred method for submitting nominations is via email to Steven Knott, the SACC’s Designated Federal Officer at knott.seven@epa.gov. For more information on the TSCA SACC, visit epa.gov.

Don’t mess with Texas® K-12 Art Contest

Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation invite Texas students in kindergarten through 12th grade to submit their best litter prevention-inspired artwork to be considered for the Don’t mess with Texas Calendar. Students who create the top 14 winning designs will have their artwork assigned to a month or featured on the cover of the 2021 Don’t mess with Texas calendar, as well as other prizes. Submissions are due by April 21, 2020. For more information, visit ktb.org.

Houston Arboretum vies in “Worth Saving” Landmarks Contest

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is one of four national landmarks participating in the second annual “Worth Saving” Landmarks Contest hosted by the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). Voting has begun and is open until April 22, 2020. The landmark with the most votes will receive $20,000 and the city it is located in will receive $30,000 or more in free endodontic services. These funds would greatly help the Houston Arboretum in its dual mission of conservation and education. Vote for the Arboretum at aae.org/landmarks. Learn more about the contest at newswise.com.

EarthEcho’s Youth Leadership Council applications due May 1

EarthEcho’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is a platform for today’s emerging trailblazers and visionaries in the environmental field. Comprised of diverse leaders, ages 15-22, each YLC member has demonstrated an ability to engage and mobilize their peers and their communities to have a positive impact on the planet. Applications are open for the 2020 class of EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council members through May 1, 2020. Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of a YLC member and complete an application.

Birdathon 2020 webinar continues through May 11

Houston Audubon’s Birdathon 2020 continues through May 11, 2020. with a few modifications, including a Digital Birding category. This category will allow those staying indoors to participate by using Houston Audubon’s bird cameras and live sanctuary broadcasts.

NOAA Ocean Guardian School Program

Applications are now being accepted for participation in the 2020-2021 NOAA Ocean Guardian School program, in which PreK-12 students can use school- or community-based projects to help make a difference in the health and protection of their local watersheds, the ocean and special ocean areas like national marine sanctuaries (including Texas’s own Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary). There are opportunities for schools to participate with or without funding. Applications must be submitted via email by June 1, 2020. For more information, visit noaa.gov.

Ocean Awareness Art Contest

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs invites students ages 11-18 to participate in the worldwide Ocean Awareness Art Contest by submitting visual art, film, interactive/multimedia, music, poetry, or prose that explores the theme Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis. Climate Hope asks for stories that will energize us and accelerate action and collaboration to take on the climate crisis. The deadline to participate is June 15, 2020. For full details, visit bowseat.org.

TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3 p.m. each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD’s YouTube Page.


Additional Upcoming Events