School pond makes progress

Students propagate plants while Flo Hannah, Senior Sanctuary Steward of Houston Audubon society, explains and gives directions during first period. Photo by Jason Nguyen

What started as a small project for the science center in the fall of this school

year has turned into a full time project that will continue on for many years.

From working on the actual pond to attending hands-on workshops on preparing plants, science students are currently learning and creating an environment that can be studied for Biology, AP Environmental Science and Aquatic Science.

On March 23, Flo Hannah, the Senior Sanctuary Steward from the Houston Audubon Society, visited Kerr to hold a prairie restoration workshop for students. Hannah does prairie restoration workshops and manages several Houston Audubon Society sanctuaries (bird conservatories).

“[The] Houston Audubon owns 17 sanctuaries on the upper Texas coast, ” Hannah said. “There are about 3,400 acres and five counties and I manage a number of those sanctuaries for Houston Audubon, so I’m a land-manager.”

The restoration workshop allowed students to get hands-on experience with working with plants and preparing and propagating native coastal prairie plants, such as grasses and herbs, which will be moved to the pond at a later time.

“We’re going to try to put them out on the west side of Kerr, in that field,” science teacher Debbie Valdez said. “So we’re trying to do our own prairie restoration, so that’s why we invited her here.”

Valdez added that the plants were going to add to the area where the pond and butterfly garden will be added to create a thriving and growing environment.

“We’re just trying to have a really nice habitat out here,” Valdez said.

As far as managing the financial requirements of the pond, Valdez has applied to a couple grants and is currently waiting for replies. She’s also currently looking for help from the Parent Center, and in addition to her workshop, Hannah has offered help from Eagle Scouts.

Valdez sees no end to the project because like any environment, it’s always growing, changing and adapting. She sees it as a project that will continue on for future school years and sets basic goals to make sure the pond continues its consistent progress.

“[The pond] is going to be a never-ending project,” Valdez said. “By the end of the year, I’m going to get the path laid out, the flower-bed laid out and the trees are already there. Next year, we’ll put more money and more time into it. But it’s a start; the basic bare-bones of it will be there.

“But it’s never going to be finished anyway because it’s going to be a learning place.”