Numbers Up for Collins Academy
“The increase in natural science outreach experienced by Collins Academy over the current school year is due to our Pollinator Pals grant partnership with Jefferson ISD,” stated Gary Endsley, director of Collins Academy. “During this school year, we have delivered natural science outreach activities to 1,554 students and teachers as compared to around 1,000 over the same period in previous years. This 36% increase is due to implementation of our Pollinator Pals grant with Jefferson ISD and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I must thank our contractors and volunteers for helping us deliver successfully to such a large number. Our partners include: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, ecoVerdant (Dr. Marnie Erin and Robert Haynes), members of the Cypress Basin Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists and the Caddo Wildflower Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Texas Forest Service, the Texas A&M University AgriScience Extension Service, and the Harrison County Master Gardeners,” Endsley added.
An Awesome Day at the Park
JISD Horticulture teacher Ryan Sykes with Marion Co. AgriScience Extension Agent Doug Weir
When Ernesto Chaidez was asked what he thought about the Jefferson ISD 4 th Grade field trip to Port of Jefferson History and Nature Center on March 14, without hesitation he exclaimed, “This is an awesome day!” Chaidez and planting partner Alex Dorris who echoed the sentiment, were joined by 100 other 4 th Grade students in exploring the wonders of the history and nature center with instructors Dale Hoskins, Lisa Barry, Carolyn Cakley and Collins Academy Staff and volunteers for the outing.
The group hiked along the nature and history trail, visited the observational bee hive sampling honey from it, made bird seed cones to hang from trees, and carefully planted native milkweed reared by the High School Horticulture Class. The students happily embraced all the day’s activities, and were anxious to return to see the progress of the new plants after spring break.
Alex Dorris and Ernesto Chaidez plant milkweed.
The activities were all part of Jefferson ISD’s Pollinator Pals project which is funded by a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and involves all students attending Jefferson ISD.
Science instructor Carolyn Cakley said, “it has been a good adventure” adding that “so many places don’t offer classes like this for students, it’s all classroom instruction, it is good to have the opportunity to get the students outside where they can see things for themselves.” While History instructor Lisa Barry said “I believe the programs are essential to provide opportunities that they otherwise would not be exposed to, and it backs up what we are already teaching them in class.”
Teacher William Hoskins watches students make bird seed cones.
Junior High Investigates Caddo Lake
On April 16, JISD 7 th Graders visited Caddo Lake State Park and Wildlife Management Area to assist other grade levels with inquiry into habitat requirements for may haws and learned to use canoes for access to the wet areas where they live.
Kelsey Johnson helps students into the canoe.
On April 23 rd , it was the 5 th Grade’s turn to hit the field at Caddo Lake.
Following the Pollinator Pal plan, another grade level learned about
habitat needs of may haws along with how to get to them using canoes.
Vanessa Neace explains finer points of may haw habitat needs to JISD 7 th Graders. / Standing in front of a may haw bush at the waterline, Vanessa Neace explains its characteristics and needs.
High School Horticulture Class Collects and Grows
Since the use of the greenhouse at Jefferson High School to grow may haws from seed collected at the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area is a critical component of the Pollinator Pal plan, the JISD Horticulture Class investigated availability and access on a March 24 th visit. Again lead by the TPWD’s wildlife biology team of Neace and Stephanie Price, high schoolers were shown the habitat of interest and how to collect the seed-containing fruit. Once collected, the class will germinate and rear seedlings for reintroduction into the WMA environs of Caddo Lake. This methodology guarantees that no new genetic variability is introduced into the sensitive area.
Ryan Sykes’ Horticulture Class is pictured with volunteers, Collins Academy consultants,
and TPWD personnel while at Caddo Lake State Park learning how to canoe.