SSCI Environmental

Founded in 1986, SSCI specializes in enhancing the environment through its sound solutions approach. “Getting the job done is priority number one, not prolonging our participation,” says Helen I. Hodges, President and CEO.

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SSCI News

ABNC and Houston Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count
December 15, 2018 through January 5, 2019

Please don’t forget to sign up for Christmas Bird Count at armandbayoucbc@gmail.com. This is not an Armand Bayou Nature Center event, but is done in partnership with Houston Audubon Society. The Audubon Society invites birders of all ages and skill levels to participate in this international event. Birders will rise with the sun and spend one day counting every bird they see. This is the largest avian census and not possible without volunteers just like you!

They also need lots of feeder watchers within the circle so if you can’t make all day and would still like to participate, please sign up to be a backyard feeder watcher/counter, at the same email address.

Additional information about the Texas Christmas Bird Counts is available at Houston Audubon.

SSCI Participates in Career Fair

SSCI participated in the Second Annual Career Night at Pearland Junior High East (PJHE) on August 4, 2018.  The PJHE Roughnecks invited presenters from a variety of backgrounds to discuss careers and educational paths with the 7th and 8th grade students.  The students experienced exciting, hands-on learning while gaining an understanding of the educational steps needed to achieve their goals.


 

 

SSCI presented a booth displaying sampling equipment, protective gear, and education materials.  Students were able to ask questions from the SSCI staff such as, “Where can I study environmental science?” or “What kind of services do you provide?”.  Demonstrations of how to use hearing protection were a big hit!

 

 

Also in attendance was SSCI’s very good friend, Tim Pylate, Executive Director of Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC).  ABNC brought wildlife to show students the importance of these species and discuss careers in natural resources.  ABNC located on Bay Area Boulevard is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the United States.  Read more about ABNC at www.abnc.org.

SSCI also participated in the PJHE career night in 2017.  We are pleased to be able to support the local community in providing educational information and career guidance.

SSCI and Interfaith Caring Ministries, a Winning Team

SSCI participated in the 25th Annual Festival of Trees Gala at the Lakewood Yacht Club on December 6, 2018. Interfaith Caring Ministries (ICM) hosts the annual fundraiser to provide the necessary funds to support the outreach program for the Clear Lake community.  The Gala included fundraising activities, a special invocation by Taylor Lake Christian Church, and a performance by Clear Lake High School’s ensemble choir, Soundwaves.

 

SSCI’s team enjoyed the festivities and supported the charity with Helen Hodges, P.E., President, Jo Drake Keim, Vice President, Caitlin Tovar, Chemical Engineer, and Stacy Emerick, Administrative Manager in attendance.

Wooping Cranes make their way to Texas Coast – October 29, 2018

Iconic Whooping Cranes Making Way to Texas Coast

First Sightings Reported Near Rockport

With the first sightings last week of iconic, endangered whooping cranes along the Texas coast, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding Texans to be on the lookout for these impressive birds as they move through the state.

Whooping cranes face a harrowing, 2,500 mile journey from the breeding grounds in the marshy taiga of northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the coastal marshes of Texas each year. The migration south to Texas can take up to 50 days with the population typically traveling in small groups. Man made structures like power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines pose significant threats, as do more natural perils like predators and harsh weather.

Along the way, whooping cranes seek out wetlands and agricultural fields to roost and feed in, and they often pass large urban centers like Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco, and Austin. Though they rarely stay in one place for more than a day during migration, it is important that they not be disturbed or harassed at these stopovers; in fact, as a federally protected species, it is illegal to do so.

The first whooper pair of the season was just spotted at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on October 22. Recent heavy rains brought much needed freshwater to the area and should result in improved numbers of blue crabs and Carolina wolfberries, preferred whooper foods in coastal marshes.

The tallest bird in North America, the whooping crane, is also one of the rarest. With a current population of around 505 individuals, whooping cranes are slowly returning from the brink of extinction thanks to coordinated conservation efforts. Out of 87 nests this summer only about 24 chicks fledged, a low number compared to recent years, likely due to the unseasonably cold, wet weather.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population, the only “natural” flock of whooping cranes in the world, spends each winter in and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport. However, with population expansion in recent years they have begun spending time in more nontraditional areas, venturing some distance from the refuge to find food and other resources.

“These iconic, endangered species deserve our respect as they migrate through the central flyway, and we ask the public to avoid disturbing them if spotted,” states Wade Harrell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator. “Along with whooping cranes migrating from Canada, Texas has had a few visiting whooping cranes from a reintroduced population in southwest Louisiana. These cranes are all marked with leg bands and have been most commonly spotted in southeastern Texas, near Beaumont.”

With sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting seasons opening and whooper migration in full swing, TPWD urges hunters to be extra vigilant. Whooping cranes are sometimes found in mixed flocks with sandhill cranes, which are gray and slightly smaller. With their all-white body plumage and black wingtips, whooping cranes may also resemble snow geese, which are much smaller and have faster wing beats. Here’s a video detailing the differences between snow geese and whooping cranes.

There are several other non-game species that are similar in appearance such as wood storks, American white pelicans, great egrets and others, but a close look will reveal fairly obvious differences. More information on look-alike species is available online.

The public can help track whooping cranes by reporting sightings to TPWD’s Whooper Watch, a citizen-science based reporting system to track whooping crane migration and wintering locations throughout Texas.  More information about Whooper Watch, including instructions for reporting sightings, can be found online and by downloading the iNaturalist mobile app. These observations help biologists identify new migration and wintering locations and their associated habitats.

Creepy Crawlers – Armand Bayou Nature Center – Halloween 2018

Creepy Crawlers

Saturday October 27, 2018 at 6:30

 

Join Armand Bayou Nature Center this Saturday October 27, 2018 for a fun night of Halloween-themed games and activities for the entire family! Activities include a night hike in the woods, games, face painting, a barn show, a hay stack dive, and live animals to experience.

Reservations are required and will be available on September 4th. The reservation is $10 per person, kids 3 and under are free. Please bring a flashlight- it gets dark out here!

Book your reservations now!

Texas Association of Environmental Professionals – Aerial Services

On August 23, 2018, SSCI attended the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals (TAEP) Luncheon entitled “Drones – A New Tool for the Environmental Professional”. Mr. Mike Allison, president of Raptor Aerial Services, showed off his assortment of drones and explained their applications in the environmental field. Of particular interest to SSCI is the use of drones for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). Drones can be a useful tool for identifying site conditions such as buildings, aboveground storage tanks, water bodies, and other features. Drones can also be used to analyze overland flow, an important part of any Phase I! The TAEP hosts monthly luncheons where presenters come to discuss important environmental issues and the ways they can be solved.

SSCI has performed thousands of Phase I ESAs and would be glad to help you with your next environmental project!

More info about Raptor Aerial Services and the TAEP can be found at www.raptoraerialservices.com and https://www.taep.org/

SSCI supports El Lago Coffee Co.

El Lago Coffee Company

    

Joe and Terry Butcher are the proprietors of local coffee roastery El Lago Coffee located in Seabrook, Texas. In an effort to reduce the impact of shipping coffee across the planet and pursue their love of sailing the pair took their sailboat’s maiden voyage to South America to pick up their first load of green, or raw, coffee beans for roasting back in the States.  However, on their return journey the pair encountered a storm, forcing the proprietors to call the Coast Guard for rescue.  The sailboat, and their caffeine-laden bounty, was lost to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the Butchers are roasting coffee that they import in a traditional manner, it comes in 100 kilo packages and is transported by a cargo barge. The goal of El Lago Coffee Co. is to use the proceeds from roasting specialty beans to fund another sailboat with a much larger hull allowing the dream of EcoSail-transport to live on.

El Lago Coffee Company states that the El Lago Coffee Schooner will be a zero emissions “Ecosail” ship and carry a standard 20’ shipping container. The maximum load will be 47,500 pounds of green coffee beans. The duo say that they can begin construction of the Schooner when they reach their goal of selling 100,000 pounds of coffee annually.  In support of local business and eco-friendly initiatives, SSCI has started sourcing office coffee from El Lago Coffee Co. in an effort to help fund the Butcher’s dream of eco-sailing.

 

 

Three questions for . . . Dr. William Hodges, TAMU ’14

Three Questions for . . . Dr. William Hodges, TAMU ’14
Dr. William Hodges, (Texas A&M, 2014; VMBA roles: president of TAMU’s VBMA chapter for 2012 and 2013. National Marketing Chair for 2013). He currently resides in Raleigh, N.C.

How did your participation in the VBMA at the leadership level change your perspectives while you were a veterinary student?

Cognizance of need. Prior to veterinary school, I had limited experience in the veterinary business environment. I am fortunate to have two entrepreneurs as parents, so I understood the value of business, but never connected business and veterinary medicine. VBMA was unique among the organizations in its union of the two. Joining the leadership team gave me perspective of scale and just how much need there is at and beyond the student level. VBMA was created by students who recognized a gap and put forth incredible effort to fill it at both the business education and the interpersonal skills levels —  key components of business management. I wanted in on that!

This profession and a DVM degree changed drastically for me because I started to see the limitless opportunities I would have. It was like growing up on an island then discovering the airport.

In retrospect, what was the highlight of your VBMA experience?

The networking opportunities. While this is not an experience, in and of itself, this network has allowed for countless growth experiences. VBMA will provide a variety of opportunities to people, but the uniform value is the network you will build. I will admit that networking should be the goal of any organization, but VBMA does it better.

What are you doing now, and how do you think that relates to your VBMA experience?

I currently work full-time as a relief vet, specializing in Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) relief work. Positioning, marketing and selling to my client clinics is challenging. Success requires confidence in myself and skills to be effective in a wide variety of businesses with staff that doesn’t know me and resources that change frequently. My time with VBMA has a lot to do with why I am effective.

Most importantly for me, though, is that I am a better teacher. Every day I work is an opportunity to teach. Ultimately it was VBMA that gave me the experience to round out my knowledge and interpersonal skills.

 

SSCI Job Timeline: Culvert Construction

SSCI provided maintenance activities to a damaged culvert owned by an HOA located in Dickinson, Texas (Site) where existing articulated concrete blocks (ACBs) were uplifted and separated during a Hurricane Harvey.  This caused the subgrade to be eroded and a large hole to form at the base of the culvert. SSCI was able to mobilize quickly and efficiently to solve the problem.  The work involved designing a new, more effective culvert layout that would significantly reduce erosion during large rain events.

The following construction services were also completed during the remediation:

  • Pumping of standing water in the washout area;
  • Replacement of soil and re-grading of subgrade slope;
  • Salvage and placement of ACBs onto subgrade;
  • Placement of inlet and piping;
  • Paving of high-flow areas in the culvert to reduce erosion.

A final post-repair visit to the Site was conducted to ensure the satisfaction of the HOA and replace ACBs in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The HOA continues to work with SSCI on other detention pond, erosion, and maintenance activities.  SSCI finished the work ahead of schedule even after being impacted by weather-related delays.