Seven Weeks with the Trinity River Crew

2020 Conservation Wrangler, Trinity River Crew is a seven-week joint Conservation Corps program of Groundwork Dallas and Trinity Park Conservancy that launched in summer of 2021.

The Trinity River Crew provides meaningful, paid conservation work experience, education, leadership skills, and professional development training to high-potential youth from historically marginalized areas along the Trinity River. The primary purpose of this program is to encourage and empower local youth through cultivating their leadership skills and providing educational and professional development opportunities as they complete meaningful conservation projects. This program is a collaborative youth employment framework that can act as a model throughout the entire Trinity River Corridor and in other geographies. This crew creates a pipeline of conservation leaders that will continue to advocate for the Trinity River within their communities.

In its first year, the Trinity River Crew had 13 crew members join for the seven week summer program, follow-along their journey in this week by week recap:

Week 1:

Crew members received on-boarding training and an overview of Trinity River, including information on the watershed, river geomorphology, pollution/pollutants, and more. The Crew also learned how to conduct macroinvertebrate assessments at Frasier Dam, learned how to conduct water quality with Dallas City Hall, and learned about best practices for managing money from Bank of America.

Learn more about the Trinity River in this educational guide that was developed through the Conservation Wrangler program.

Week 2:

Crew members learned about soils, conducted macroinvertebrate assessments, took a nature walk with Urban Biologist Sam Keischnick from Texas Parks and Wildlife, and listened to a presentation about water conservation from the City of Dallas and Dallas County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Week 3:

Crew members constructed monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins, learned about the Blackland Prairie Ecoregion, removed invasive plants at, and transplanted native plants from Twelve Hills Nature Preserve, learned how to conduct vegetation and bird surveys, and had discussions about sustainability and consumption.

Week 4:

Crew members visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center where they removed invasive species, conducted water quality and macroinvertebrate assessments, as well as bird and plant surveys. The Crew also visited the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Farm in Garland and learned about the sustainable farming practices and constructed bee hotels.

Week 5:

Crew members visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center again to collect aquatic vegetation for the Trinity River Audubon Center, installed bee hotels at Hines Park, conducted water quality testing, macroinvertebrate surveys, plant surveys, bird surveys, and invasive species removal at the Trinity River Audubon Center, virtually connected with the Dallas Sierra Club, and finalized their ideas for a concept garden.

Week 6:

In Texas: The group of students that stayed in Texas this week stayed busy by continuing to visit other nature centers in North Texas such as Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA), and a Blackland Prairie Reserve in Ferris, Texas. These locations provided new insight in conservation work, such as meeting a University of North Texas research team and learning about the painted bunting study they were conducting during the summer. The students also learned about the positive effects controlled burns have on an ecosystem’s biodiversity at these sites. The end of the week was spent learning how to interpret all of the data that had been collected throughout the program.

In Montana: The students spent the week at Glacier National Park and had a chance to explore the trails and lakes in the area. During their time there they worked with other Groundwork USA members and helped reconstruct roofs of buildings used by the national park.

Week 7:

The final week of the program was spent indoors finalizing presentations, and learning professional skills such as resume building and interview advice with Bank of Texas.

“This program taught me so much about nature. I had little to no previous knowledge about any of the things I learned this summer. I would go home and talk about everything I learned to my friends because I thought it was so interesting.” – Denise

“Being a part of the Trinity River Crew has increased my knowledge of environmental science and conservation. It has also helped me consider environmental science and conservation as a career path. It has also helped me build friendships and connections with a variety of people.” – Samantha P.

“Throughout these past 7 weeks I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people all while having fun doing it. The experience alone has helped me in so many ways in regards to my future after high school. Before I was very lost in how I wanted to go about higher education and a career as a whole, but thanks to River Crew, I have a much clearer vision in mind.” – Adrian

Learn more about the Trinity River Crew here and follow along on Trinity Park Conservancy’s and Groundwork Dallas’s social media channels for on-going updates.

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