Houston Environmental News Update April 29, 2020

EEvengers, Lights Out for Birds, Virus Vigil, Texas Flooding Challenges, RAQPAC meeting on COVID-19 effects, Drive Through Farmers Market, Capturing and Sharing Ecosytems, Virtual World Migratory Bird Day, Green Jobs, and more

Since our incorporation in 1971, a key part of CEC’s purpose has been education, although how we support education has shifted over the decades. A few years ago, we were asked to take on support for the Environmental Educators Exchange, a decades-old networking group for formal and informal educators. Since then, we have been coordinating the group’s quarterly gatherings, with trips to a wastewater treatment facility, a behind-the-scenes preview of renovations at the Houston Arboretum, canoeing at Kickerillo-Mishcher Preserve, a visit to Pearland’s brand new Delores Fenwick Nature Center, the Nature Discovery Center, and more.

Normally, we would be hosting the next quarterly meeting next Wednesday, but, well, COVID-19. Instead, we have been gathering the environmental education community–the EEvengers–for virtual networking, learning, and support, with dozens of educators at each meeting. Starting next Friday, based on input from the EEvengers, CEC will be hosting short (10-minute) sessions about a local environmental topic, followed by Q&A and community building. Details about the weekly sessions can be found in the EE newsletter (sign up on Constant Contact) or on hereinhouston.org, CEC’s source for environmental education resources in Houston.

At hereinhouston.org, you can also find information about professional development for teachers; field trip opportunities (including funding for fourth-grade field trips); regionally-based overviews, history, resources and activities/lessons for various environmental topics and ecosystems; a growing directory of who’s who in the EE community; and parent resources for when we can’t go outside and play. Find even more on the HERE in Houston Facebook Page.

The orb weaver behind all of these initiatives (and quite a few more) is CEC’s own environmental education specialist, Alicia Mein-Johnson, who has been building our environmental education program since she joined out team last summer. If you have questions or want to get involved, contact her directly at [email protected]

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


Capturing & Sharing Ecosystems Using Smartphone Apps

Environmental Educators, Texas Master Naturalists, and conservationists everywhere, join the CEC and its environmental education program HERE in Houston on May 1, 2020, for a virtual mini-workshop to learn how to use smartphone apps to create 360* photos, videos, and soundscapes, and learn what equipment might be helpful. Jaime González, of The Nature Conservancy of Texas, will lead this free workshop. Learn more on Facebook and register in advance on Zoom.

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 May 15, 2020.

CEC Volunteer Info Session May 19 will be held 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. Upcoming info sessions include the evenings of May 19 (online) and June 30. For more information, please email [email protected], or join us online at Google Hangouts.


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).

Houston Audubon: Lights Out for Birds

Most North American migratory birds fly at night, and lights on buildings can disorient birds on their paths, resulting in fatal collisions. The Upper Texas Coast plays a key role on the Central Flyway, an important migratory path for birds. Birds that move along and across the Gulf of Mexico depend on safe passage through the Houston-Galveston area. Throughout migration, and particularly during storm fronts, turning Lights Out for Birds can make a difference. Houston Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology invite you to learn more and to pledge to turn out your lights at night during migration (March 15-May 15 in spring, September 15-November 15 in fall).

Webinar: Texas’s Flooding Challenges 

On April 30, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m., Texas Water Journal will present a webinar on “Texas’s Flooding Challenges,” focusing on implementation of legislation passed during the 86th Legislature. The presenter will be Matthew Berg, Ph.D., CEO and Principal Scientist of Simfero Consultants, a water resources risk management organization based in Houston, who wrote about these issues in this Texas Water Journal article. For more information and to register, visit zoom.us.

Virus Vigil Paintings & Poems

Many of our readers enjoyed the bird-inspired poems and paintings by Jim Blackburn and Isabelle Chapmen. We are pleased to share Jim’s new website, where he is posting daily poems and illustrations for download. Learn more and sign up for for his emails at jimblackburninfo.com/virus-vigil.html.

RAQPAC meeting: Effects of COVID-19 on regional air quality

On April 30, 2020, from 2-4 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee will host a virtual meeting. The meeting will include a roundtable discussion of the effects of COVID-19 on air quality in the Houston-Galveston Bay region. The meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams or by calling +1 346-262-0196  (Conference ID: 390 936  429#). For the full agenda and information on connecting, visit h-gac.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.

Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market – Open During COVID-10 Crisis

Urban Harvest is holds its weekly Saturday Farmers Market from 8 a.m.-noon, in the parking lot of St. John’s School, 2752 Buffalo Speedway. It supports over 70 local vendors and producers all within 180 miles of Houston. Now Available: Drive-Thru Service at the Saturday Farmers Market for Online Pre-Orders, and Double Up Houston Produce Boxes (“CSAs”). The next market is on May 2. For more information, visit urbanharvest.org.

Socially/Environmentally Responsible Investing for Houses of Worship

On May 3, 2020, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston will host a webinar featuring Chandel Strickland & Kellan Caldwell, financial associates with Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit insurance & financial services companyabout  about sustainable investing, its history, and steps on how places of worship and their congregations can begin connecting their faith with finances through sustainable investing. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.

For Educators: Connecting to the Latino Community in the Age of COVID-19

On May 5, 2020, from 2 – 3:15, join organizer NAAEE for an interactive presentation on how to successfully engage the Latino community through various activities including hands-on citizen science. Corazón Latino will share examples of their work, address new challenges posed by COVID-19 in reaching the Latino community, and share examples of how technology can be used to overcome these challenges. learn more and register at naaee.org

Linking Quality Transportation and Affordable Housing

On May 5, 2020, from 1-2 p.m, LINK Houston and the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research will present a webinar exploring the findings of research over the last nine months and present new tools for practitioners, which was co-developed with the Affordable Housing and Transportation Task Force. The webinar will also include a discussion of policy steps that can better connect people from their homes to opportunities such as jobs and school. For more information and to register, visit linkhouston.org.

Children’s Solar Hour with Solar United Neighbors

On May 6, 2020, Solar United Neighbors will present a webinar especially designed for elementary-aged children to learn all about solar energy, complete with songs and science lessons. For more information and to register, visit zoom.us.

Houston’s [Virtual] Celebration of World Migratory Bird Day 2020

On May 9, 2020, Houston Audubon and the City of Houston, along with partnering organizations (including CEC), will host the first online-only Word Migratory Bird Day event. The event will include activities, workshops, presentations, birding, and more. Join in on any and all of the events and activities to learn more about the importance of Houston for migratory birds and how you can celebrate, enjoy, and protect our migratory species from home. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Virtual Global Big Day Birding Bonanza

On May 9, 2020, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center will host a Virtual Global Big Day Birding Bonanza, a challenge to birders around the world: see as many birds as you can in 24 hours. Join the Arboretum team as we try to find as many species as possible in one morning. This is a free event, but pre-registration is required to keep the group manageable. For more information and to register, visit houstonarboretum.org.

Shred It EMC

On May 9, 2020, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., the East Montgomery County Improvement District will host the fifth annual “Shred It EMC” paper-recycling event at the EMCID Complex parking lot, located at 21575 U.S. Highway 59 North (at the Grand Parkway) in New Caney. For more information, visit emctx.com.

Oppe Elementary School, a NOAA Ocean Guardian School, helps feed community during pandemic

Galveston ISD’s Oppe Elementary School, which NOAA has recognized as an Ocean Guardian School, has — along with many other GISD schools — installed, planted, and maintained a vegetable garden over the past two years. When the pandemic struck, Oppe’s gardens teemed with produce: carrots, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and all sorts of lettuces. Quickly, the community organized efforts to harvest and distribute the ripe produce (using social distancing guidelines).  A local restaurant offered to temporarily provide refrigeration for the produce until distribution could be arranged. During this first harvest of the school gardens, volunteers harvested more than 200 pounds of fresh produce, distributed among 30 families specifically in need and local food pantries. Read the full story at marinesanctuary.org.

New “Houston and Nature” blog

Nivien Saleh, a political scientist, video producer, and volunteer member of Houston’s environmental community, recently launched a podcast, “Houston and Nature,” in which she interviews prominent members of the greater Houston environmental community about the strengths and weaknesses of the community and ways to improve it. The first two episodes feature The Nature Conservancy’s Jaime González and environmental attorney and professor Jim Blackburn. Find the podcast at houstonnature.com.

“At Home With The Bay” virtual field trip series

Galveston Bay Foundation offers “At Home With The Bay,” a series of virtual field trips  of engaging environmental education lessons taught by GBF staff. Lessons include a lab, conservation craft, talk with a Bay biologist and an activity of the week. Each lesson comes with an accompanying downloadable activity guide. Find the series, and other educational offerings, at galvbay.org.

Texas State Aquarium offers at-home activities

The Texas State Aquarium offers a wealth of educational activities that can be enjoyed from home, including daily “Aquavison” learning sessions livesteamed each weekday on Facebook. Fore more information and to access the livestreams. For more information, visit texasstateaquarium.org.

Armand Bayou Nature Center’s “Nature as Normal” blog

The Armand Bayou Nature Center offers its “Nature as Normal” blog as a means to “remember that things are still happening as normal in the bigger picture, and that we’ll all be back to normal soon too.” Each weekly entry features photographs by the award-winning kayaking photographer, Gary Seloff, and ABNC Volunteer Photo Walk Leader, Lyman Brown, with commentary by ABNC’s  Conservation Director and Chief Naturalist, Mark Kramer. Find all of the blog entries at abnc.org.

Birdathon 2020 continues through May 11

Houston Audubon’s Birdathon 2020 continues through May 11, 2020. with a few modifications. Although the sanctuaries are closed through at least April 30 (check the website for updates), you can bird near your home or at local parks while following CDC guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19. You can also bird digitally through Audubon’s webcams and live sanctuary broadcasts.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council application date extended to May 14

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. The deadline for applications for this recruitment cycle has been extended to May 14, 2020

Texas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award nominations due May 21

The American Society of Adaptation Professionals‘s Regional Adaptation Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the climate change adaptation field through exceptional leadership. It recognizes the fact that deliberate, proactive adaptation, preparedness, and resilience-building is a change process, a deviation from business-as-usual, and a courageous act of doing something new and different. Nominations for this year’s Texas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award are due May 21, 2020. For more information and to submit nominations, visit adaptationprofessionals.org.

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.

Houston Public Works asks public to “Corral the Grease”

In response to COVID19 control measures, Houstonians are cooking at home more and have increased their use of disinfectant wipes. While these measures may help control the COVID19, they can also increase the number of sewer overflows, harming public health and the environment. The main cause of sanitary sewer overflows in Houston is clogged pipes from fats, oils, and grease poured down kitchen sinks and wipes flushed down toilets. Houston Public Works needs your help to prevent these harmful sewer overflows from occurring.

The best method to reduce sanitary sewer overflows is to ensure Houstonians are putting grease and wipes in their place – the trash, never down the drain. For more information on how to safely get rid of grease, please visit publicworks.houstontx.gov.

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.

COVID-19 Registry seeks public’s input

The COVID-19 Registry, a new project spearheaded by Rice University with partnering organizations, is a research study that provides real-time information to health departments on the spread of COVID-19, who is being affected, and how. The registry will help to: track virus spread over time and across geography; measure economic and health impacts; understand behavior in response to policy changes; and identify popular and effective sources of information. Data from the registry will be stored in a highly secure system built by Rice University. Things learned from the registry will be published, but will not include any information that would identify participants. For more information and to take the survey, visit rice.edu.

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.

  • The sounds of the waves, a breeze in your face, and the peeps of a scurrying shorebird, you are birding at the beach and you didn’t even know it. We visit a couple prime birding hot spots along the coast and we’ll let you know where they are
  • Just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s good. Some common landscape plants are escaping our yards and causing problems for native plants and wildlife. Find out how to fight the invasion and grow “green” in more ways than one
  • Postcard from Texas: A fall flight above the changing colors of the Texas Hill Country

Additional Upcoming Events