Nick Cowey, of LCRA McKinney Roughs, brought a live crocodile, snake, and turtle to the ACE After School Program in Smithville. Mr. Cowey taught the students about the wildlife with the assistance of Program Director, Steve Schroeder, and City Grant Writer, Jill Strube.
This spring, several programs have been brought to the school leading up to Buescher State Park lake cleanup over Spring Break. Students, age 10-18, were eligible to participate, even if they weren’t enrolled in the afterschool program.
“The basic premise of this TPWD program is to try to get more people out into nature who may not normally have the chance to do so,” said City Grant Writer Jill Strube. “We are especially working with the youth in ACE and the Encompass program participants to meet this goal. So far, we’ve had a really fantastic response.”
Students created a plan of action for the outdoor service project during two after school sessions which took place on March 6th & 7th. As part of the program, the cleanup plan was student led, teaching leadership and logistical skills.
On March 11, students took a kayaking and GPS unit lesson which was a mandatory requirement for any student who wishes to participate. During Spring Break, students met at the Recreation Center, before being transported to the state park to participate in the cleanup project. The work began at the lake where students documented dump sites along the shores and develop a plan to tackle trash pickup with their teams during the morning.
The outdoor program, which was developed through a $26K grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, has enabled students in the ACE program to participate in many outdoor activities over the course of the current school year beginning last summer.
As a partner, the Smithville Parks & Recreation Department made several purchased. The purchased items included kayaks, GPS units, cleanup supplies, life jackets, kayak trailers, wildlife identification booklets, waterproof disposable cameras, and utilized funds for consultant fees to teach water safety. These purchases allowed students to learn more about kayaking, fishing, and using GPS units.
During the summer students were able to participate in outdoor skill programs held at the Smithville Public Library and also at Vernon Richards Riverbend Park during the Summer Reading Finale. When the 2016-2017 Ace Program began in the fall, students created plans they used during the first cleanup on the lake at Buescher State Park over Thanksgiving holiday.
This past school year students in the ACE Program have learned about birding and other wildlife. One program brought by LCRA McKinney Roughs brought a crocodile and a Sky King Falcon.
This summer, 20 families will be able to go camping with instructors via the Texas Family Outdoor program.
Smithville ISD is appreciative of our partners that help make this program possible. Boys & Girls Club, Smithville Bastrop County Audubon Society, Lost Pines Master Naturalists, LCRA, CAPCOG, Smithville Public Library, YMCA, Boy and Girl Scouts, City of Smithville, Smithville’s Parks & Recreation Dept., Paddle With Style and fisherman Kevin Hutchison.