It was pouring rain, boots were caked in mud, and rain jackets were soaked, but none of Houston’s Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC) members cared as they helped plant their 150th loblolly pine outside the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Will Clayton Parkway. The students felt a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, for they participated in the largest volunteer tree planting in Houston’s history.
Along with around 2,000 other volunteers, the CLC members aided in planting 20,000 trees on January 27. 2007. To some, the weather may have been daunting, but to Houston’s CLC students the day was merely just another rewarding experience -- an opportunity to give back to their community and the beginning of what will be a life long journey in environmental stewardship. Dedicated and passionate students such as these are the reason why SCA’s Houston-based high school programs have been so successful.
The CrewHouston’s CLC program, which begins recruiting in the fall and carries out various service and training projects from December to April, is just entering its third year. Last year, the CLC consisted of twenty students and four crew leaders.
Along with the CLC program, Houston’s other high school program, the Summer Commuter Crew, just finished up its third year as well. The Summer Commuter Crew provides students with a summer job carrying out conservation projects in local parks and conservancies throughout the summer. This summer, five of those students were returning to the crews from previous summers. One student was even in his third year of being on a summer crew!
While the students are the means by which projects are carried out, Houston depends on its partnerships with local parks and businesses in order to make its two programs successful. This summer the commuting crew worked with five local partnerships. At the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, students restored trails, installed water bars to help re-route water to prevent the frequent Houston floods, and carried out re-vegetation projects. Students also worked with the Memorial Park Conservancy where they removed invasive species, and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership where students built boardwalk, rock wall, and restored and built trails. SCA also enjoyed two new partnerships this summer with, the Hermann Park Conservancy and Lake Houston Park, where students cleared horse trails and installed a water drainage system.
Currently, SCA Houston programs draw most of its students from a variety of Houston area high schools including: KIPP Houston High School, Cesar E. Chavez, Chinquapin, YES College Prep, John H. Reagan High, Charles H. Milby, Lee High School, Furr High School, Challenge Early College. However, the SCA Houston is always looking to expand and draw passionate students from other schools as well.
Lastly, without the support of foundations and corporations in the community, none of this work by the CLC would be possible. CLC funders include: Houston Endowment, Powell Foundation, Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation, Tapeats Fund, Wotham Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, and other partners.