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Grants allow students to explore river at Aquarena Center

Date released: 03/18/03

SAN MARCOS — At-risk and under-served students will benefit from two recent grants awarded to Southwest Texas State University’s Aquarena Center, supporting field trips focusing on the environmental importance of the Edwards Aquifer.

“There is no better place on Earth to learn about water than on the banks of the San Marcos Springs,” said Aquarena Center Director Ron Coley. “These grants will go along way in establishing SWT’s role as the leading source of information for the region on the need to preserve and protect the natural water system of Texas."

A $30,000 grant from the National Recreation Foundation provides for transportation of students within the Edwards Aquifer watershed to San Marcos, allowing those students to experience the Texas River Adventure. This innovative new program combines water conservation and wetlands education with enjoyable outdoor recreation and nature exploration activities.

The River Adventure is a new partnership between the Aquarena Environmental Education Center and SWT’s Office of Campus Recreation. Several hundred at-risk students from throughout the Edwards Aquifer region — including Hays, Comal, Guadalupe, Travis and Bexar Counties — will enjoy outdoor learning activities that address significant water issues and emphasize conserving and preserving existing water supplies. Students and teachers will also learn about good stewardship of the source of their own drinking and recreational water supply.

SWT Campus Recreation staff will supervise students on a guided float trip down the San Marcos River. They will also instruct students and demonstrate how to utilize a map and compass, and how to identify plants, animals and other wildlife commonly found along the river.

Aquarena has also been awarded $29,100 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Community Outdoor Outreach Program for transportation and operating costs for the Texas River Explorers program. This grant, obtained in cooperation with the San Marcos River Foundation, supports the Texas River Explorers program at Aquarena Center. The grant funds will enable various underserved groups, including females, ethnic minorities, the economically disadvantaged and youth with physical and learning challenges, to visit Aquarena Center to learn about water issues related to the Edwards Aquifer and wetlands habitats.

For more information about these programs and other educational opportunities, including interpreter-led educational tours and teacher training workshops, call the Aquarena Center Educational Office at 245-7540.