Teaching Sustainability Track 1

11 - 11:50 a.m.

Landscape Trends: Reducing Water while Growing Food for People and Pollinators
  • Daniel Cunningham Horticulturist & Project Manager, Texas A&M AgriLife

For the past few years, in addition to homeowners increasingly looking for outdoor living spaces that are lower maintenance, environmentally sustainable and reduce water costs, research shows people are also more interested in edible gardens and landscapes that give back to pollinators! We’ve taken advantage of these trends by expanding our horticulture-based public outreach classes and educational materials to incorporate wildlife and butterfly friendly concepts, as well as classes that teach how to grow well-adapted herbs, vegetables and fruits. Now some of our most popular, each new class integrates education about where our water comes from, how to increase water efficiency outdoors and how to build drought resiliency, while also producing food for people and pollinators!

Typically, water education in and of itself is not as attractive to the general public as we might hope. Challenged with the tasks of changing perceptions and facilitating real behavior change, water education professionals must offer practical and useful information to gain the attention of the public. With more than 20 unique classes targeting homeowners and professionals alike, Texas A&M AgriLife’s urban water program “Water University” takes a holistic approach to landscape water-use AND education. Learn how we’ve integrated urban water efficiency and stormwater management into fresh new horticulture-based topics to reach over 16,000 people a year with expert-guided face-to-face trainings.

These free resources, offered to residents of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in America, provide a flood of water-saving information in classes covering the hottest landscape design trends ranging from “Grow Your Own Vegetables” and “Foodscaping” to “On the Wilde Side: Gardening for Wildlife.” Catchy titles and punny descriptions grab the public’s attention, but thoughtful instruction with relevant research-based information and access to local experts ultimately keeps them coming back for more and bringing their friends.

Learn all about how the public’s love for bees, butterflies and edible landscapes has broadened our impact in water resource conservation and given a boost to our class diversity, participation and social media interactions.

As a horticulturist with Texas A&M AgriLife's Water University program, Daniel provides professionals and the public with the most current research-based information on resource-efficient and water-conserving landscape management. Focused on a holistic approach, Cunningham specializes in native plants, edible landscaping, rainwater harvesting and utilizing landscapes as habitat for beneficial wildlife.

2–2:55 p.m.

SixSigma STEMulation: Creating Sustainable Pathways for Retention in STEM
  • Dr. Maya Fernandez Instructional Specialist, Health Information Technology, Dallas College

Opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) exist now more than ever for community college students interested in pursuing careers in the guided pathway of STEM. However, the disconnect between the number of students enrolling in these opportunities and those completing STEM degree requirements before graduation is alarming, to say the least, especially amongst minority students. The lack of students pursuing and completing STEM coursework at the community college level directly impacts the number of students who enroll and pursue STEM degrees at four-year universities. This study explores the academic challenges many of these students, faculty and staff face and offers Six Sigma concepts as a solution to closing the education equality gap through the development of a “Six Sigma STEMulation” intervention.

Students first and student success is Dr. Maya Fernandez’s motto. She is committed to ensuring students are equipped with the resources they need to be successful inside the classroom and in the workforce. Dr. Fernandez is an instructional specialist in health information technology and continuing education program manager for allied health at the Dallas College Cedar Valley Campus. She is currently a fellow in the first-ever Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy, sponsored by the Aspen Institute.

Dr. Fernandez holds a doctorate in in Educational Administration, a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Management and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She has more than 10 years of health care management experience, primarily in pediatrics and urgent care. She is a fellow of Global Citizenship Alliance. LaTasha Starr and Miesha Hayes will join her for the presentation.

3–3:55 p.m.

Dallas College Eco-Inters Facing Sustainability and Resiliency
  • Sustainability interns

As community college members, our purpose is achieving a quality education; however, while we work on this goal, we also educate our fellows about the other 16 SDGs. With that in mind, we created The Sustainable Age, an independent student journal, which is open to any Dallas College student passionate for writing and sustainability. Also, our social media feeds are composed of educational posts, educational videos made in partnership with Dallas Arboretum, students’ articles, online competitions like the iNaturalist competition, trivia games about the SDGs and comics. All these activities engage students from different campuses during this confinement time. The Offices of Sustainability at Brookhaven and North Lake Campuses are managed by Brandon Morton, our leader and mentor, who also encourages us to share our experiences, apply and develop the knowledge acquired for the benefit of our society and environment. Additionally, the other Sustainability Offices of our college support us in projects of outreach, education, urban agriculture and energy areas.