The first participants in the Texas Sea Grant Coastal Wetland Restoration Internship Program spent their Spring Break working at wetland plant nurseries and restoration sites in Houston and Lake Jackson. Pictured are, from left, Maryam Cheta, Laura Mae Hinson, J. Brandon Hearron, Thuy Chau, Lillian McAfee and Abigail Brown. (Photo courtesy TCWP Stormwater Wetland Program)
By Tiffany Evans, Texas Sea Grant
Six Texas undergraduate students spent their Spring Break earlier this month learning about wetland restoration as the first participants in the Texas Sea Grant Coastal Wetland Restoration Internship Program.
During the week of March 13-17, Abigail Brown, Thuy Chau, Maryam Cheta and Lillian McAfee from Texas A&M University (TAMU) and J. Brandon Hearron and Laura Mae Hinson from Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) learned plant identification and propagation techniques at wetland plant nurseries in Clear Lake City and Lake Jackson under the guidance of Mary Carol Edwards, the Stormwater Wetland Program Coordinator at Texas Sea Grant’s Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP) in Houston.
The nurseries grow freshwater plants for TCWP stormwater wetland demonstration projects, which are designed to improve water quality and habitat in the Galveston Bay watershed. The interns also visited local stormwater wetland sites to learn planting techniques for a constructed wetland and participated in hands-on wetland restoration activities at Sheldon Lake State Park with the local Texas Master Naturalists’ Wetland Restoration Team.
“There were many teachable moments where they learned why we were doing the various tasks and how they fit into the big picture of wetland restoration and stormwater wetland creation,” Edwards said.
Some of the students will continue their internship in May after the spring semester ends. The paid internship is open to undergraduate students from TAMU, TAMUG and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Hearron and Hinson, who are both seniors majoring in Ocean and Coastal Resources, gave similar reasons for applying to the program.
Hearron said he signed up for the internship to build on what he has learned in the classroom about wetland restoration, the career field he plans to pursue. He said he learned a lot during Spring Break and is looking forward to learning more when he returns in May.
“This internship demonstrated the applications of groundwork in freshwater wetland conservation, restoration and mitigation,” he said. “We learned practical techniques working in nurseries and established wetlands, including plant propagation, identification and invasive species removal. We also benefited from working with and learning from several Texas Master Naturalists, all of whom brought different career experiences to supplement the wetland restoration they do.”