Houston Environmental News Update October 6, 2021

National Wildlife Refuge Week, 18th Annual Run in the Park, Big Thicket Day, Indigenous People’s Day, Native Plant Society Symposium, Green Jobs and more

National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second full week of October each year, celebrates the great network of lands and waters that conserves and protects Americans’ precious wildlife heritage.

This October – to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week – help wildlife and humans to thrive by taking a walk, stroll, saunter, hike, prance, trot, amble, ramble or roll for the wild. The National Wildlife Refuge System and Public Lands Alliance are hosting the Walk for the Wild 5k Challenge from October 9-16, 2021. The challenge is to get people moving a distance of 5K in nature on behalf of as many national wildlife refuges as possible; there are 568 to choose from.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides vital habitat for thousands of native species, including Attwater Prairie Chickens, American alligators, and sea turtles. Millions of Americans visit refuges each year to enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, and wildlife watching.

If you are in the Houston region, you are probably within about an hour drive of at least one of the refuges. You can find nearby refuges using the USFWS “Find a Wildlife Refuge” tool. Our local refuges include:

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat–
getting ready for October 31.

#walkforthewild2021 #WildlifeRefuge

Banner image: “Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, TX,” by Adam Reeder (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors or virtually. Over 30 workshops are in the regional summer professional development calendar to connect you with local resources. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.

Beyond Toxicity: Building a Sustainable Tomorrow For Children

On Oct. 13, 2021, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., the CEC, Children At Risk, Texas Family Leadership Council, and Partners in Foresight will present a virtual summit called “Beyond Toxicity: Building a Sustainable Tomorrow for Children”. Join experts to discuss the impact of climate change on today’s children and next generations. This summit, sponsored by Signature Care Emergency Room, will examine environmental racism, ecological determinants of health, and sustainability, and hear from youth advocates working to build a brighter, greener future. This event is free to students, and scholarships are available to the general public. Email bderry@childrenatrisk.org to inquire. To purchase tickets, visit interland3.donorperfect.net.

Call for submissions: Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC is proud to host the fourth annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival this fall. CEC hopes to use this festival to tell local environmental stories, highlight the work of CEC’s member organizations, and to inspire our residents and visitors to make a difference in the environment and our quality of life. The festival will be held virtually to protect the health and safety of our community in these times. We invite you to submit a film for consideration. Films should be specific to the environment in the Houston/Gulf Coast Region, should be no more than seven minutes long, and must be of suitable quality to be shown publicly. View the Submission Guidelines, and make submissions using this Google Form.

Air Champion Social Change Scientists Global Video Contest

McMac Cx Air Champions Social Change Scientists are passionate community influencers, teachers, parents, student innovators, and activists who believe that we have a right to live, learn, work and play in places where we are allowed to know the quality of the air we breathe. Make a 30-90 second video about healthy air, and enter the Air Champions Global Video Contest for a chance to win a state-of-the-art Flow Personal Air Monitor, the chance to have your film shown at the Wild About Houston Film Festival, AND the chance to receive a $1,000 cash prize. Learn more at McMacCx.com/globalvideocontest.

Imagine a Day Without Water Video Contest

The City of Houston Public Works department invites Houston residents to participate in Imagine a Day Without Water Video Contest! This contest is designed to engage all Houstonians in the nation-wide event “Imagine a Day Without Water,” hosted by the Value of Water Campaign. The purpose of Imagine a Day Without Water is to bring attention to the neglected water systems in America. Entrants should create a video–not to exceed 1-minute–exploring or depicting various aspects of what daily life might look like/be affected by an entire day without any water. Enter for the chance to win cash prizes AND the opportunity to have your films shown about the 2021 Wild About Houston Green Film Festival! View the flyer and visit houstontx.gov for more information. Submit videos by Sunday, October 17, 2021, to waterconservation@houstontx.gov.

Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


Input Requested: San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group

The San Jacinto RFPG seeks input from the public regarding the development of a regional flood plan, part of a statewide flood plan. Learn more, submit input, and sign up for updates at sanjacintofloodplanning.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).

Funding Availability for FY 2022 Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible entities for Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), and Cleanup Grant funding. The application submission deadline is Dec. 1, 2021. EPA will present two guideline outreach webinars to assist applicants with understanding the FY 2022 Assessment, RLF, and Cleanup Grant Guidelines on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 at noon CT and Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 at 1 PM CT. Find more details, including about the upcoming webinar, at epa.gov.

Katy Prairie Conservancy awarded $2 Million in for wetlands conservation

The Katy Prairie Conservancy is pleased to announce a grant of $2 million through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Coastal Prairie Strategic Habitat Initiative II project funded by this grant involves the permanent preservation of a 2,433-acre ranch in Jackson County with a conservation easement. The ranch encompasses bottomland forest, native prairie, wetlands, and agricultural lands and hosts abundant wildlife. The grant will also support the restoration of 360 acres on the Texas mid-coast to increase acreage of suitable roosting and foraging habitat for upland, shorebird, and waterbird species. The Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Coastal Prairie Strategic Habitat Initiative II project also includes the donation of additional conservation easements on more than 900 acres of farm and ranch land in Jackson and Brazoria Counties.

Wildscapes Workshop and Plant Sale

The Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Houston is holding its Wildlife Workshop and Plant Sale virtually. The event continues with online speaker presentations on Oct. 7. Plants and books will go on sale October 9 for Wildscapes ticket holders, and October 10 for everyone.  Purchases will be picked up on Saturday, October 16 near downtown. For the full listing of speakers and other details and to purchase tickets, visit npsot.org.

USGBC Texas Energy Summit

On Oct. 7, 2021, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., the Texas chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council will hold their statewide Texas Energy Summit at the Norris Conference Center at City Centre, Houston. The theme of the conference is “Efficient Buildings That Create Health and Prosperity.” For the full agenda and to purchase tickets, visit usgbctexas.org.

Bayou Preservation Association’s 18th Annual Symposium

Continuing through Oct. 7, 2021, the Bayou Preservation Association will hold its 18th Annual Symposium with the theme “Green, in a Word, is Good.” The virtual symposium will focus on green infrastructure as the path to a sustainable and resilient future. Attendees will hear from local agencies and experts about how implementing nature’s best practices enhances quality of life and the region’s economic future by providing better water quality, improved protection from extreme storm events, and enhanced outdoor recreational opportunities. Eight hours of Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available. For more information and to register, visit bayoupreservation.org.

NAAEE 2021: The Power of Connection

From Oct. 7-8, 2021, the North American Association of Environmental Educators will hold a Research Symposium in advance of its 2021 annual conference with the theme “The Power of Connection.” The Annual Conference and Research Symposium will offer inspiring and thoughtful keynotes, a rich variety of workshops, symposia, traditional sessions, research panels, roundtable discussions, bright spots, and posters, along with great opportunities for networking, growth, and change. For more information and to register, visit conference.naaee.org.

Shady Business: Selecting and Planting A Tree

On Oct. 8, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m., the Clear Lake chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host a virtual presentation on how to select and plant a tree that’s right for your property. To register, visit zoom.us.

18th Annual Run in the Park

On Oct. 9, 2021, the Hermann Park Conservancy will hold its 18th Annual Run in the Park. Runners can choose to attend the in-person race, or run from the comfort of their homes virtually. With 5K and 10K routes, as well as a 1K kids’ route for the in-person event, exercise enthusiasts of all ages and abilities can come to explore the Park and enjoy the shaded trails. The event starts and ends at the Molly Ann Smith Plaza, near the Jones Reflection Pool, and includes a post-run party with food, drinks, music, and more. All proceedsgo towards the crucial work needed to maintain Hermann Park, which is an essential outdoor space for the community. For more information and to register, visit runsignup.com.

Fall Plant Sale

On Oct. 9, 2021, from 9-11 a.m., the Clear Lake chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will hold its annual, in-person Fall Plant Sale. Tree and shrub pre-order are now open. The deadline to pre-order trees and shrubs is October 7 or when inventory sells out, whichever comes first. On Friday, October 8 at 7 p.m., they will hold an online presentation focusing on trees, including how to select a tree for your yard and how to plant a tree, followed by a Q&A. To see the full list of available plants and to pre-order, visit npsot.org.

Big Thicket Day

On Oct. 9, 2021, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., the Big Thicket Association will hold the free, annual celebration of the 1964 establishment of the organization and the 1974 establishment of the Big Thicket National Preserve. The BTA’s annual membership meeting will be held at at 9 a.m. The keynote speaker at 9:30 a.m. will be photographer and ecologist Matt Buckingham of Lufkin. Buckingham has spent 20 years exploring the Piney Woods and studying and photographing the region’s incredible biodiversity. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m., there will be educational booths, kids activities, free boat rides on the Ivory Bill boat on the Neches River, musical entertainment by Long Sunday Drive, and a hotdog lunch. The event will be held at Collier’s Ferry Recreation Park, 5390 Pine St., Beaumont. For more information, visit Facebook.

Nurture Nature Festival

On Oct. 9, 20201, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., the Baytown Nature Center will hold its free, annual Nurture Festival. The free event will include live animals, a kid fish tank, kayaks, a rock wall, a touch tank, inflatables, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department archery, fishing, and game wardens, mobile pet adoption opportunities, games, food and drinks, and more. For more information, visit Facebook.

CCL Monthly Meeting with Adrian Garcia and Climate Reconciliation Overview

On Oct. 9, 2021, from 10:30 a.m.-noon, the Houston chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will hold a virtual meeting featuring CCL state Coordinator Robert Hendricks, who will give an overview of the climate measures in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package; and Harris County Commisioner Adrian Garcia. Commisioner Garcia, who will discuss the steps that Harris County has taken so far to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as the steps the county could take in the future. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.

Is Your Neighborhood Prepared? A Houston Community Climate Rountable Discussion

On Oct. 9, 2021, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., the Houston Climate Movement will hold a roundtable discussion about whether and how Houston neighborhoods are prepared for climate change. Panelists include: Rev. James Caldwell, founder and director of the Coalition of Community Organizations; Efrem Jernigan, President of the South Union Community Development Corporation and Vice-President, Sunnyside Energy, LLC; Rita Robles, with the Denver Harbor Civic Club, Brown Berets, and a CEER Climate Ambassador; and Carmen Caveeza, Climate Justice Organizer with the Coalition for Equity, Environment, and Resilience (CEER). To register, visit zoom.us.

Indigenous People’s Day- Life Between Land and Water

On Oct. 9, 2021, from 1-4 p.m., the Armand Bayou Nature Center will host a celebration of the people who once called the gulf coast prairies, forests, and bayous home. The Akokisa people once thrived here, and utilized the rich resources of the Texas coastal environment between land and water to successfully su, rvive in a challenging world. The event will include demonstrations, replica items, and a replica shelter where visitors can learn about how the local people used the environment to create and provide everything they needed for survival. For more information, visit abnc.org.

Fall Outings in Nature: Guided Night Hike and Earth Examen

On Oct. 9, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., the Interfaith Environmental Alliance of Houston invites the public to participate in a private two-hour guided night hike at the Armand Bayou Nature Center and practice of a spiritual discipline, the Earth Examen. Come enjoy the sights and sounds of the prairie, forest, and bayou at night as a spiritual experience! Some nocturnal creatures you may see or hear are owls, bats, fireflies, raccoons, spiders, armadillos, deer, frogs, and more! The hike is suitable for kids 6 + . The While the Earth Examen is a Christian spiritual discipline, people of all faiths and spiritual traditions will find it a deeply meaningful way to experience nature. Space is limited, so if you’d like to participate, contact Lisa Brenskelle at gcs.lrc@gmail.com to sign up. Masks must be worn during the hike. Due to the limited group size, you must sign up in advance to participate.

Native Plant Society of Texas Fall 2021 Symposium

Continuing through Oct.10, 2021, The Native Plant Society of Texas will host its annual fall symposium around the theme of “Celebrating Conservation and Community”. The symposium will be a hybrid event with some outdoor, in-person sessions and some virtual sessions conducted over Zoom. For more information and to register, visit npsot.org.

Transition U.S.: Regenerative Communities Summit

Through Oct. 10, 2021, join Transition U.S., along with dozens of partner organizations who are leading the transition to a more just and sustainable society, for inspiring plenary sessions, skill-building workshops, dynamic discussion spaces, and engaging activities, tracing an arc from “What Is” to “What If” to “What’s Next.” Learn to do the work of building a resilient, just, and regenerative future-now. Communities across the globe are recognizing and responding to the call, reimagining and rebuilding our world, forging new paths, and embodying the courage to see the world with new eyes. The Summit is open to everyone on a pay-what-you-can basis. Learn more and register at transitionus.org.

Halloween Pup Crawl & Pet Expo

On Oct. 10, 2021, from 4-6:30 p.m., the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center will hold its Halloween Pup Crawl & Pet Expo,  a Halloween-themed outdoor experience. The public is invited to bring your furry friend in costume for a chance to win fun prizes while exploring the Arboretum trails! You’ll interact with local pet vendors at the expo and walk away with a commemorative Pup Crawl glass. Proceeds support the Houston Arboretum and BARC. Pet adoptions will also be available onsite. For more information and to register, visit houstonarboretum.org.

9 Natives Showcase Garden Volunteer Day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

On Oct. 11, 2021, from 9:30 a.m.-noon, Katy Prairie Conservancy invites the public to volunteer at the the 9 Natives Showcase Garden outside of the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This monthly volunteer opportunity is the perfect way to support native plant education in Houston by maintaining this urban, native garden that provides habitat for local wildlife. For more information and to register, visit katyprairie.org.

Unique Pollinators

On Oct. 11, 2021, beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Clear Lake chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will hold a virtual monthly meeting featuring a presentation by entomologist Nathan Hermond, who will discuss groups and species of pollinators that are less familiar to the general public. The goal is to spread awareness of the variety of species in different parts of the world and provide tools for people to conserve and enhance pollinator biomes for these special species. To register, visit zoom.us.

The Key to Building a Healthier Houston: Nature

On Oct. 13, 2021, from 8-9:30 a.m. Scenic Houston will present a “Scenic Mornings” panel discussion on nature as the key to building a healthier Houston. Panelists include Jay Maddock, PhD., professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University; Sheila Condon, principal / owner – co-Founder of Clark Condon; and Jaime González, healthy cities director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. For more information and to register, visit scenichouston.org.

THEA Town Hall

On Oct. 12, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., the The Texas Health and Environment Alliance will hold a virtual Town Hall meeting. Topics to be discussed will be the movement of the Waste Pits southern impoundment from Remedial Design Phase to Remedial Action Phase; DSHS response to a request for cancer rate data and next steps; Jones Road Superfund Site status update. To register, visit txhea.org.

Scenic Mornings: Building a Healthier Houston Through Nature

On Oct. 13, 2021, join panelist Jay Maddock, PhD, FAAHB, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University along with Sheila Condon, PLA, ASLA, Principal / Owner – Co-Founder of Clark Condon, and Jaime González, Healthy Cities Director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, as they discuss nature as the key to building a healthier Houston. Dr. Maddock, also the Co-Director of the Center for Health and Nature, a collaboration by Houston Methodist Hospital, Texan by Nature and the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Ms. Condon and Mr. Gonzalez will examine practical approaches to making Houston a more resilient, biologically diverse, cooler, healthier, and better-connected city through thoughtful, nature-filled design. Learn more at scenichouston.org.

AIA Houston Annual Meeting

On Oct. 13, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects will hold its Annual Meeting at Architecture Center Houston, 902 Commerce. The event will include the awarding of presidential awards and the election of the 2022 board. This event is free and open to all. Find more details at aiahouston.org.

Children’s Environmental Health Day

On Oct. 14, 2021, the Children’s Environmental Health Network will hold its 6th Annual Children’s Environmental Health Day. Focused on action and equity, the event’s goal is to collectively increase the visibility of childrens’ environmental health issues while empowering individuals and organizations to take action on behalf of children nationwide. For more information and to register a local event, visit cehday.org.

Call for Entries Houston Nonprofits Social Media Breakfast of Houston 2021 Gift of Guidance Program and Conference

Social Media Breakfast Houston is holding its 2021 Gift of Guidance Program and Guidance will be held on Dec. 10, 2021, from 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. via Zoom with an in-person reception following at 6 p.m. The Gift of Guidance program offers non-profits access to digital coaching in order to better their social media presence. Eligible nonprofits receive pro bono advice from SMBHOU members during this December meeting with the goal of collaboratively developing an actionable, micro social media plan. SMBHOU invites qualified, Houston-based 501c3 organizations to apply for the program. The deadline to apply is Friday Oct. 15 at midnight. For more information and to apply, visit this Google document.

Unplugged Adventure: Wetland Walk

On Oct. 16, 2021, from 9-10:30 a.m., Katy Prairie Conservancy will offer an educational wetland walk with an expert from Green Star Wetlands. Participants will be able to get up close to some of the wetlands on the Katy Prairie and learn about the plants that are part of the Prairie Wetland Community. Come ready with questions about wetlands near you or out on the prairie. For more information and to register, visit katyprairie.org.

District F Youth Conference on Environmental Justice

On Oct. 16, 2021, from 9 a.m.-noon, the  Office of Houston Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas.will host a youth conference focused on environmental justice in Houston. Candid discussions about food deserts, water contamination, flooding, air pollution, and community upkeep will be led by elected officials, community leaders, professors, and scientific experts. On Oct. 15 from 7-8 p.m., there will be an in-person opportunity at Tracy Gee Community Center to meet fellow youth and to pick up shirts. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.

People’s Eco-Challenge

Through Oct. 27, 2021, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston invites Houstonians of all faiths to join their team for this year’s People’s Eco-Challenge. This online event offers you the opportunity to care for the earth by taking on a challenge in: justice for the whole community, healing & renewal, waste, food, health, transportation, energy, community, nature, water, or simplicity. You can learn about these topics, take action in your personal life, advocate or create a new environmental justice/stewardship habit over the course of the the challenge. Join the team at peoples.ecochallenge.org. .For questions, contact Lisa Brenskelle at gcs.lrc@gmail.com.

Lights Out, Houston!

Through Nov. 30, 2021, Houston Audubon invites the public to participate in Lights Out, Houston for the fall migration season. Houston Audubon’s Lights Out for Birds Program, part of Lights Out Texas. Turn your non-essential, exterior lights off from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. throughout spring and fall migrations, especially during peak migration, which continues through October 29. Learn more at houstonaudublog.org.

Take Care of Texas Video Contest

The Take Care of Texas Video Contest is back for 2021 Texas students in grades 6 – 12 are invited to create a 30-second video about how they take care of the environment, using data from our website. The sky is the creative limit, so the most original, entertaining, and thought-provoking young filmmakers will receive prizes and scholarships. Participating students must upload their entry on or before 4 p.m. CST Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 CST, with the required documents. For some inspiration, see previous winning entries here. Find the full contest rules and other important information at takecareoftexas.org.

  • Wild Hope Book Discussion Group. Through Oct. 8, 2021, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston is holding a weekly virtual discussion of the book Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from the Vanishing by Gayle Boss. Learn more and register at eventbrite.com.
  • Living the Change Discussion Group. Through Dec. 14, 2021, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston is hosting a weekly virtual discussion group in which participants can consider how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to energy, transportation and food, based on the Walk on Earth Gently principles. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
  • Your Body Your Air. The Houston Public Library invites you to learn about types and sources of air pollution in Houston and the effect they have on our bodies in The Health Museum’s new exhibit Your Body Your Air. Created in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, Your Body Your Air can be seen at various Houston Public Library locations through February 2022. Learn more at houstonlibrary.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.

  • Who doesn’t love a fort, fond memories of those carefree days as a kid? Well, we follow along as a bunch of first-time fort builders get together to build one from all recycled materials
  • Caprock Canyons State Park holds the last remnants of pure Southern Plains Bison that exists in North America. Once numbering around 60 million, now there are around 300; the history of how they came to live at the state park, on their native historic land is a long one. Because of the hard work of a few individuals, these Bison live on
  • Located along the Navasota River where the grasses of the Blackland Prairie meet the woodlands of the Post Oak Savannah, Fort Parker State Park offers a tranquil setting for camping, hiking, biking and fishing. There is a lot of history here, too. Located on what was once the town of Springfield, the park was built by the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s

Additional Upcoming Events

Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.