Part Two in a Three-Part Series on HARC’s program of work and research utilizing LiDAR in the Houston-Galveston region.
Cultivating Community Awareness through Science, Partnerships, and Programs: The Galveston Bay Report Card
The Galveston Bay Report Card is a community-driven, scientific analysis of the health of Galveston Bay, the largest estuary on the Texas coast and the seventh largest estuary in the United States. A practical response to effects of climate change on the Bay, the report card examines, among other things, loss or degradation of coastal habitats, freshwater inflows, and water and sediment quality. It is supported by a grant from Houston Endowment, along with a EPA GOMA grant to translate content into Spanish. Implemented by Galveston Bay Foundation and Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), the Report Card develops local scientific knowledge about the Bay while simultaneously engaging community members to design solutions that improve its health.
Since 2015, the report card has annually featured 22 indicators across six categories to grade the Bay’s ecosystem. During the same period, Galveston Bay Foundation educators have informed nearly 10,000 adults and children through public presentations, programs, cover stories, and outreach events. Through surveys, focus groups, and connecting with communities around the Bay, new indicators are added according to interest from citizen stakeholders and availability of data. Programs, maps, infographics, website and outreach materials are continually updated and enhanced to engage citizens.
As the Advocacy Programs Manager at Galveston Bay Foundation, I have the privilege of working alongside HARC research scientists and bringing the Galveston Bay Report Card to the communities connected to the Bay. As we press forward in efforts to maintain a healthy Bay, the Report Card has become a household tool that can be used by all to not only answer questions about the Bay, but also, inspire action for the preservation of this vital natural resource. The cultivation of community-based conservation and partnership building, are priorities that I am passionate about, and the collaboration between Galveston Bay Foundation and HARC on the Report Card creates the perfect union of science and advocacy.
Last year, we launched the Report Card Champion Program, an advocacy program that educates, connects, and empowers everyday leadership for Galveston Bay. By cultivating an ethic of conservation and environmental stewardship through initiatives like the Report Card Champion Program, the Galveston Bay Foundation will continue to reach out to the future generations and successfully engage on these concerns. Specific to the Houston-Galveston region, we face coastal change, habitat loss, pollution, and major flooding events. By engaging in the Report Card Champion program, future leaders understand what causes these issues, how they relate, and how to act.
Also, the development of Bay Connect has paved the way for relationship building with media proactively. This program is an immersive extension of the Report Card that includes discussing the current events within the categories while exploring the Bay on a Boat Tour. As we continue to inquire within the community, we hope to continue with engaging content driven by what residents want to know about the Bay.
As Texans and residents of the Galveston Bay watershed, we all carry the responsibility of protecting and preserving Galveston Bay for future generations. The Bay is at the heart of immense ecological and economic productivity. It’s also a special place to many people who enjoy its views, tranquility, and recreational opportunities. The Galveston Bay Report Card is essential to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the valuable resources of Galveston Bay for generations to come.
T’Noya Thompson attended Texas A&M University at Galveston where she received a B.S. in Marine Biology in 2005. In 2018, she received an MA from Miami University through Project Dragonfly’s Global Field Project Program. Being born and raised in the Bahamas, fostered a deep connection to the ocean that inspired her career path at an early age. In 2005, she began working at Moody Gardens in the Animal Care Department. T’Noya served a number of roles at Moody Gardens and connected with the community on various levels for 12 years. She then joined Galveston Bay Foundation as Advocacy Programs Manager in May 2017 where she educates and encourages action to improve the overall health of Galveston Bay. Additionally, serves as a Community Learning Leader for the Global Field Project Program. In this role, she assists with managing, supporting, and co-leading graduate students online and in the field. She is passionate about wildlife and collaborating conservation with community engagement.