Lower Rio Grande Valley Learning Landscapes Collaborative

Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) Learning Landscapes Collaborative has been designated a valued partner as a Conservation Wrangler by Texan by Nature for the creation of native habitats as learning centers as part of a multi-school district initiative in South Texas.

The LRGV Learning Landscapes Collaborative attempts to promote the stewardship and cultural pride of the natural resources of the LRGV to local youth and members of the community. As such, the LRGV Learning Landscapes Collaborative will engage students, teachers, administrators and parents throughout school districts of the LRGV to instill respect and a deep appreciation about the multiple benefits of the local ecosystems and encourage the preservation of this valuable resource through the creation of learning Landscapes and the pursuit of National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitats® Districts. The LRGV Learning Landscapes project is made possible by the collaboration of entities dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, these members include Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Quinta Mazatlán, and South Texas National Wildlife Refuge Complex (USFWS).

“The next best thing to bringing children to nature is bringing nature to children,” said Allen Williams, landscape habitat specialist for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District. “Schoolyard native habitats or learning landscapes reflect the unique culture and history of the people, the schools, and the communities they serve.”

“Scientific research tells us that children and adults must reconnect with nature for mental and physical well-being,” said Tina Buford, Texan by Nature’s board president. “This collaborative provides a framework for students to learn about native habitats and ecosystems as well as improve their academic skills through hands-on inquiries into the natural world.”

In an effort to gradually instill a dose of nature and promote stewardship throughout the school districts of the LRGV, the LRGV Learning Landscapes Collaborative commits to:

  1. Collaborate with five (5) Independent School Districts of the Region (PSJA ISD, McAllen ISD, IDEA Academy, Donna ISD, and Harlingen ISD) within the next 2-3 years to pilot the LRGV Learning Landscapes project and assist such school districts to meet the criteria necessary to pursue the National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitats® Districts.
  2. Assist pilot school districts to initially engage the 3rd grade students and teachers of one elementary school within each district to pilot the creation of ten (10) demonstration schoolyard habitats or “Learning Landscapes” in order to introduce nature into their daily lives and to be utilized as a tool to instruct science outside of the classroom.
  3. Collaborate with five (5) science elementary coordinators to tailor four (4) lessons in each subject of ecosystems, adaptations and life cycles based on TEKS criteria and that highlights local flora and fauna. Each district will train at least one (1) teacher to implement each lesson within each school and to incorporate Learning Landscapes to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.
  4. Provide six (6) training workshops for LRGV Learning Landscapes school staff such as teachers, grounds crews, and project administrators to create, utilize, and maintain Learning Landscapes district-wide. Training will ensure the sustainability of the project within the district and provide school districts with tools to pursue the National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitats® Districts.

LRGV Learning Landscapes Collaborative has hosted the initial 3 teacher workshops (one more to come), hosted 4 groundbreaking or kick-offs (one more district on Feb 8th, 2018), and will implement the pilot of the curriculum that was developed by 4 school districts this spring.


Conservation Wrangler Projects


Certified Water Partner Program

El Paso, Texas

trinity river paddling trail


Trinity River Paddling Trail

Upper Trinity River, Texas

Rio Grande Valley reef restoration


Rio Grande Valley Reef Restoration

8 Miles Offshore From South Padre Island, Texas

oyster shell recycling


Oyster Shell Recycling Program

Galveston, TX


Texas Prairie Wetlands Project

Richmond, Texas

Constructed wetlands


Constructed Wetlands

Dallas/Forth Worth and Surrounding Area, Texas

Cool Schools


Cool Schools

Dallas, Texas


El Carmen Land & Conservation Co.

Marathon, Texas


Dark Skies Initiative

McDonald Observatory, TX


Bracken Bat Cave

San Antonio, Texas