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Della Barbato, Director of Education

Della Barbato at NPAT booth on April 22, 2018 at Houston’s Earth Day Celebration

Meet Della Barbato, Native Prairies Association of Texas’ (NPAT’s) new Director of Education at the Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve. This position was generously funded by a grant from Shell. Della ” …will develop an educational program: train teachers to teach the prairie and facilitate a partnership with local school districts, businesses and other NGO’s…”

Della, a past board member of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, represented NPAT at CEC’s Earth Day Houston -Discovery Green Celebration recently. She drew a steady crowd with her seed ball making activity. Della commented that both young and old like to get their hands dirty.

Della has been involved in environmental education for many years. She has her own company, Earth Voice that conducts interactive group programs about our ecosystems and managing natural resources. She has a B.S. and M.S. from Texas A&M, is a Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalist, has developed curriculum as a middle school science teacher, was Education Director for the Galveston Bay Foundation and other non-profits. Thanks to Shell’s generosity, Della as DPP’s Director of Education will tremendously benefit local area teachers and their students.

Breaking News – Deer Park Prairie!

Announced at the May 24th HNPAT meeting by Pat Merkord, Executive Director of NPAT: Shell Deer Park Manufacturing Complex just awarded Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT), owner of the Lawther – Deer Park Prairie Preserve (DPP), a grant for an educator position as well as funding for teaching materials. This achievement resulted from the hard work Pat and NPAT President, Barbara Willy, did in putting together the project proposal.

In early 2016, the Deer Park City Council granted NPAT a specific use permit to allow groups of up to 30 students onto the prairie, provided, among other conditions, that two ADA (American with Disability Act) approved bathrooms for each sex is available at the site. According to Pat, before conditions for the specific use permit are met, plans are for the educator to bring prairie lessons to classrooms in local schools and establish a working relationship with local school district teachers. Meanwhile Pat is meeting with architects regarding building the required facilities.

Pat also announced that the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce has indicated that it is interested in supporting the building project. NPAT appreciates community support from both Shell and the Chamber of Commerce to enable local children and youth to learn about our natural and cultural heritage on this platinum quality remnant of the nature that was once here.

We hope that our supporters will donate to help NPAT maintain Deer Park Prairie and to this new endeavor to bring school groups onto the prairie. (Read a past blog about funds and volunteers needed to maintain the prairie.) Donations for NPAT and for Deer Park Prairie are taken at this webpage. Non-directed donations will go toward very much needed support for staff and overhead, the non-glamorous part which often unfortunately does not get funded by grants . Should you wish to  specifically earmarked your donations for Deer Park Prairie, add “For use at Deer Park Prairie” in the comment section. When the fundraising for the required building facilities commence, we will post that information in a future blog. A heartfelt thank you to all our donors, volunteers, and supporters!