JHS students get firsthand look at salvinia problem on Caddo Lake

Reprint from Marshall News Messenger

by Bridget Ortigo
jhs-honors-chemistryUNCERTAIN – Jefferson High School students got a firsthand look at the giant salvinia problem on Caddo Lake Wednesday as they learned about habitat preservation through a pilot program with the Collins Academy.

 
In its fourth year, Jefferson High School Honors Chemistry teacher Alma Rivera brought nine students to Caddo Lake and the Morley Hudson Weevil Greenhouse to learn about giant salvinia and the weevils used to combat the invasive aquatic plant as part of the Conservation Leadership Program.

Each year Rivera brings her students to learn about habitat preservation, the “world’s worst weed” threatening Texas’ only natural lake and how to conduct water monitoring tests.

“Science education is very important and it hasn’t really gotten the attention it deserves,” said scientist and weevil expert Lee Eisenberg, who has been working since 2012 to solve the giant salvinia problem at Caddo Lake.

“We want to show these students the connection between science and the natural world.”

 
Students began the day taking water monitoring samples through lab kits provided by the Collins Academy.

The group then headed over to the greenhouse to check out the thousands of weevils being bred and raised for release into Caddo Lake before they ate lunch with Eisenberg and took a boat tour of the lake to see the salvinia firsthand.

The weevils are tropical bugs that eat the giant salvinia as its only food source and serve as a natural combatant against the invasive weed.

“As part of our Conservation Leadership Program, we take a monthly outing to examine environmental issues,” Collins Academy Director Gary Endsley said. “The students get hands on training through community-based learning to equip them with the knowledge and skills to make sound decisions in the future towards our environment.”

The students’ gathered water monitoring and data is sent to the Texas Stream Team at San Marcos State University, which then reports the data to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Endsley said the Academy is currently working with 20 public schools and several colleges.

 
“Now we are adding four more public schools,” Endsley said Wednesday. “We have about 7,000 students in the recurring program. The focus of all of this…

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