Gulf of Mexico Foundation
Copyright 2007 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. All rights reserved.
Representatives of the GMF’s Science & Spanish Club Network received the award on May 2 at the 2007 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards banquet in Austin. Recognized in the youth category, this Corpus Christi-based foundation earned the award for its extensive bilingual and cross-border youth outreach program through its Science and Spanish Club Network (SSCN).
The efforts started in 1995, when the SSCN hosted a group of 3rd and 4th graders from Matamoros, Mexico, so the students could attend a program about protecting the Gulf of Mexico. Five years later, that same group of students returned to a local middle school and a bilingual, Texas/Mexico border educational program was borne.
Since 2000, the SSCN has expanded to other schoolchildren in coastal zone communities from El Campo to Brownsville in Texas, to Matamoros and Tampico in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Clubs average 15-25 members who meet weekly after school and receive science-based information about the Gulf of Mexico and regional ecology in English and Spanish.
The clubs participate in beach cleanups, explore their watershed and estuaries on field trips, and have near-shore experiences on their rivers, bays, and Gulf waters. In May, all clubs attend and participate in an annual Gulf of Mexico conference held at Texas A&M; University, Corpus Christi.
The club helps kids develop leadership skills and fosters a sense of attachment to their local water bodies. The SSCN has developed partnerships with businesses, government entities, conservation foundations, and universities. For children, there is no cost to join a club, an economic factor that attracts a broader range of youth, many of whom do not normally participate in extracurricular activities. The long-range goal is to establish clubs along the entire Gulf of Mexico coastline.
The TCEQ annually presents the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards to environmental projects across the state that demonstrate excellence in resource conservation, waste reduction, and pollution prevention. The award-winning programs reflect the goals of the TCEQ itself: to protect Texas’ human and natural resources and ensure clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste. For more information or to submit an application for next year’s awards, visit www.teea.org.