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Marsh Matters Winter 2014-2015

Marsh Matters Winter 2014-2015

Marsh Matters Winter

Marsh Matters The Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education and Recreation Center Highlights: Baytown Nature Center Back the Bay! Winter Camp EPIC! Winter Gator Tales Nurture Nature Series Full Moon Hike Inside this issue: Marsh Minutes 2 Thanks to... 3 Wish List 3 Calendar of Events 3 Wetlands Center Happenings Baytown Nature Center 4-5 6-7 Volume 16, Issue 4 My Bay, My Job Winter 2014-2015 For the past year Marsh Matters has promoted the “Back the Bay” campaign sponsored by Galveston Bay Estuary Program. The website, www.backthebay.org has a wealth of information about what backing the bay means, with tips to help citizens protect Galveston Bay. A series of articles are planned with interviews of Wetlands Center and Baytown Nature Center staff members about ways their jobs affect Galveston Bay. Christina (Crissy) Butcher, Baytown Nature Center (BNC) Naturalist, was the first staff member interviewed for this series. Asked how her job affects not only Galveston Bay, but all of Baytown’s bays which flow into it, she shared some highlights of her work. “My job is mostly educational about the bay ecosystem and how important it is to our way of life, whether it is recreational or as a food source and how our everyday actions impact it.” One of the components of Crissy’s job for which she feels very proud...and rightly so, is “Back to the Bay,” an award-winning program for high school science students. She and Tracey Prothro, Superintendent of Natural Resource Programs designed the curriculum for this class where students spend a day at BNC learning about the Galveston Bay watershed, methods to determine its health, and actions that either help or harm it. Asked what she would like for students to walk away with, she answered quickly, “The most important message I want them to leave with is that industry and nature can co-exist.” She says people automatically assume industry is responsible for all pollution in the bays. When students begin the class they are requested to scan the horizon and report what they see. The answers are varied...industrial plants, houses, boaters, traffic crossing the Hartman Bridge, marshes, parks, trees. Then, queried on which of those things might pollute our environment, their answer invariably is industry because they see smoke being emitted into the air. If the teacher explains that most of the time, that smoke is steam, they are surprised. This activity helps the students begin to see the big picture of environmental health. They learn the health of the bays are being influenced by myriad sources, in addition to possible industrial pollution: drivers tossing drink cups out of car windows, students tossing papers on the ground after school, picnickers not cleaning up their food trash, homeowners’ overuse of fertilizers and herbicides, pet owners not cleaning up after their pets. Because the ultimate destination for all these littering incidents is the bay, the students discover how each of these activities affect our bays and how citizens can play a vital role in preserving our environment. The average size class is 22 science students from one of the Goose Creek School District high schools. Students are divided into smaller groups and rotate through three stations taught by Crissy, Holly Hollingshead, Mike Jaschek and several volunteers. The student-centered field trip provides an opportunity for participants to perform various tests to determine the health of the water. Measurements are taken for water clarity, temperature, nitrates, pH, dissolved oxygen and salinity. The outdoor lab setting teaches students to mix chemicals in a safe manner and perform (Continued on page 2)

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