Gary Endsley and Kari Dickson of Collins Academy cordially invite anyone with information or memorabilia related to Union Missionary Baptist Church in Jefferson to please contact either one of them at (903) 665-2900 or email@example.com. We want to copy your old photos, interview you about your relationship to the Church, see and photograph any artifacts you may have from the Church, or possibly record your oral history or the same from members of your family.
Student-teacher groups involved in Collins Academy’s flagship environmental education program, the Paddlefish Project, will begin using a new pavilion at Caddo Lake Natural Wildlife Refuge for their monthly field trips. The 20 ft. by 40 ft. structure is located on a point at Goose Prairie, the birdiest place for waterfowl on Caddo Lake.
Students will be taking to canoes from this location to gather water quality data with handheld electronic probes. They will also be doing some serious birding right where exotic transients of the feathered type love to hang out. Expert birders will be available to assist with identifications and other questions.
Many lifetime memories and friendships were forged among the initial 3,000 employees of Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant located in Karnack, Texas, during its years of operation. The plant, some years after it was deactivated by the Army, became the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and was officially dedicated in September, 2009. Today, the Refuge offers a host of outdoor opportunities for the public, including an auto route, frequently used by former employees wanting to take a trip down memory lane. “You can see it on their faces”, said one volunteer of the refuge, folks wanting to drive around and remember. They are eager to talk about the importance of their mission there, producing ammunition for the military, which area they worked in, and about the good times they had there, in particular the memories they made and the affection they all shared for a simple wood frame structure, clad in native stone known as Starr Ranch, where company picnics, parties, family cookouts, camping, hunting and fishing trips occurred. It was their gathering place.
Time, nature and neglect took a toll on the structure, which until recently stood, almost in defiance of the elements, a symbol of simpler times. Over the years, many proposals were made to rehabilitate and save the structure, but in the end the costs to do so were prohibitive. But due to the efforts of members of the Friends of Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and the generosity of individual donors, things are beginning to change.
If you travel to the north end of the Refuge acreage by Goose Prairie, you will see a new building springing up that will pay homage to the original Starr Ranch. The building was designed and built by Paul Fortune, and will open to the public in early spring. The new 800 square foot rustic structure utilizes as much of the original materials as possible. Staff members of the Refuge have cleared the area of much of the overgrowth, enlarged the parking area, and repaired the old boat ramp, which will allow for easier access to the new Starr Ranch Pavilion for boaters.
While it is not the old Starr Ranch, it is becoming a new one, where once again visitors can begin making new memories. Gary Endsley, President of the Friends of Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge said, “The new day use structure will outfit an additional entryway to the refuge for the public and provide another outdoor venue for groups of all ages.” Plans for the official opening of the pavilion will be announced soon.
On January 4 as part of their annual in-service training, nine (9) teachers with Jefferson ISD learned how to align outdoor learning with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science. Certified trainers for Project WILD, Viann Sawyer and Betty Morgan, conducted the 8-hour workshop at Collins Academy to increase the utilization of hands-on and project-based activities with their pollinator gardens. The state standard requires Texas teachers to successfully implement this type of learning to increase the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of their students. Collins Academy supports the use of outdoor resources for educational enrichment, especially habitat improvement projects such as pollinator gardens.
The workshop agenda included information on why Project WILD is a good choice for teachers, a showcase of WILD lesson activities, hands-on participation in WILD lessons, a hike through the WILD Guides provided to teachers by JISD, and the creation of actual lesson plans using Project WILD and pollinator gardens by each participant. Since both the Jefferson Primary School and Jefferson Elementary maintain pollinator gardens, participants received both Growing Up WILD (ages 3-7) and Project WILD (K-Grade 12) guides. Through a wide range of activities and experiences, Growing Up WILD provides an early foundation for developing positive impressions about nature and lifelong social and academic skills. Project WILD is the overarching, interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education program emphasizing wildlife. It assists with the development of awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment for informed decision-making, responsible behavior, and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment.
“ JISD sent us a great group of teachers to work with. Hopefully, they will use the WILD lessons”…Betty Morgan
“It was great to work with such a group of dedicated and caring educators”…Viann Sawyer
All participants receive 8 hours of Certified Professional Development Credit upon completion. If you or your school campus desire to establish a pollinator garden for conservation and learning or to conduct a Project WILD Professional Development Workshop, please contact Gary Endsley at (903) 665-2900 or send inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org .
In an effort to remain on the cutting edge of science education, Collins Academy has partnered with Planet Aqua Group for special student-teacher field trips to the Shreveport Aquarium. “Back in August, Director of Operations Adrea Gibbs and Education Manager Kimberly Lobit paid a visit to Jefferson. They had heard about our involvement with the Paddlefish Project and wanted to offer the remodeled Barnwell Center as a venue for Collins Academy’s cadre of public and private school students. Our Conservation Leadership Teams from Jefferson and Queen City have both attended and have academically benefited and greatly enjoyed all the marine displays, the hands-on interactive areas; and the Caddo Lake habitat with its live paddlefish,” stated Gary Endsley, Collins Academy’s director.
An exciting sidebar project has developed between Collins’ Conservation Leadership students and the Aquarium to improve and maintain the Caddo Lake habitat located under the dome. Besides monitoring water quality of the freshwater stream located there, students want to introduce and maintain native plants common to the Caddo Lake ecosystem. “Right now, many of the plant materials are tropical or exotic and do not belong in the Caddo Lake habitat area at all,” added Endsley.
The Shreveport Aquarium provides a detailed look at different marine ecosystems emphasizing the relationships between structure and function of a particular habitat with the adaptations of specific organisms. Displays include a large area for freshwater species depicting the ecology of Caddo Lake. Displays here contain American Paddlefish, common freshwater fish, and another of freshwater turtles.
For group pricing and to arrange a visit, call Kimberly Lobit at (318) 383-0601 or send a message to Kimberly@shreveportaquarium.com .