Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Lackland City fourth graders encouraged to consider careers in forestry

elementary students
elementary students

Lackland City students participate in TREE program

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(June 6, 2012) -- The fourth-grade class of Eva Dominguez can tell you all about biomes and tree rings. They can even tell you what sustainability is and why it's important. The Lackland City Elementary class just wrapped up a yearlong series of science lessons, brought to their classroom by UTSA undergraduates and graduate students in environmental science.

The program, dubbed Educating Youth in Ecology (or EYE), comes at a critical time when district budgets are tight and field trip money is at a minimum. It is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S.D.A Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants program.

"Ninety-four percent of Lackland City's students come from economically disadvantaged homes," said Janis Bush, UTSA director of the environmental science academic programs, associate professor of environmental science and director of the UTSA Teaching and Research in Environmental Ecology (TREE) program.

"We developed the curriculum ourselves with the fourth grade students in mind," Bush said. "A lot of what we taught them was entirely new to them."

For the last five months, 11 UTSA students traveled to Lackland City Elementary each month to teach the bilingual fourth graders about the environment. The UTSA students used a variety of hands-on activities to teach their key topics, which included plant parts and pigments; tree types, sizes and growth; forests; natural resources; conservation and sustainability.

"We talked about the wildlife and about the different biomes of Texas -- the different ecological areas of Texas. Boy, they really got excited talking about all the different birds and mammals and reptiles," said Chad Sundol, who just earned his bachelor's degree in biology at UTSA.

The same day, Anna Boeck, a UTSA doctoral student in engineering and environmental science, brought speakers to the classroom and played the sound of a leopard frog to engage the kids.

Over the course of the semester, the class read and discussed "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss, planted honey mesquite tree seeds and measured their seedlings.

"I can't say enough about how rewarding this has been for us to see them so excited about us coming and excited about learning," said UTSA alumna Jennifer Guerrero, who just completed her master's degree in environmental science and will begin her doctoral studies in cell and molecular biology at UTSA this fall. "Hopefully, we're getting them thinking about a university education now. That's another goal. It's a lot of hard work, but we do have fun."

UTSA will take the EYE program back to Lackland City Elementary this fall.

 

 

Did You Know?

Football standouts make Roadrunner history

For Ashaad Mabry and Triston Wade, football is not just a passing fancy. Both players were part of the UTSA football program almost from the beginning. When UTSA opens the 2015 season Thursday at Arizona, it will be the first time the Roadrunners take the field without them. But Mabry and Wade will still be playing football; their uniforms will just be a different color.

Mabry, a defensive tackle from San Antonio's MacArthur High School, was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection his final two seasons as a Roadrunner and second among the team's defensive linemen with 49 tackles last year. Wade, a defensive back from Tyler, was the most decorated player in school history. He was a semifinalist for the 2014 Jim Thorpe Award – for the nation's top defensive back – a three-time all-conference honoree and two-year team captain who set a school record of 293 tackles in his career. Both men had outstanding college careers that allowed them to make UTSA history.

Did you know? Mabry and Wade both agreed to terms as undrafted free agents with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, respectively, becoming the first UTSA players to move to the professional ranks.

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