• May 27, 2024

Texas A&M Forest Service Awards City of Pharr $3.12 Million Grant

Texas A&M Forest Service Awards City of Pharr $3.12 Million Grant

The Pharr City Commission was presented with a $3.12 million dollar grant from the Texas A&M Forest Service Grant in the category of Schoolyard Forests. This grant is part of a historic $15.4 million grant disbursement by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Dr. Cynthia Gutierrez, Pharr Public Health Director, introduced special guests who were present for the recognition including Texas A&M University of Higher Education System of McAllen Vice-President and COO Manny Vela, Texas A&M Forest Service Grants Specialist Kate Farris, Texas A&M Regional Urban Forester Bill Green, PSJA ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alejandro Elias, and PSJA ISD Assistant Superintendent of Academics Ranulfo Marquez.

“We are excited to present this grant to the City of Pharr which is partnering with PSJA ISD to distribute the funding to eight campuses to gain at least a 30% tree canopy coverage and implement outdoor learning spaces for your students to really understand what it is to include the outdoors in not just their environmental science education, but in every part of their education,” said Farris during the presentation. She added, “The project implementation will take place over three years and then hopefully these schoolyard forests and outdoor learning spaces will serve your community for generations.”

Farris was ecstatic to announce that South Texas is among the largest recipients of the grants, with 37 campuses across the region being selected to receive funding. “We have over $14 million going directly to South Texas in this category to make sure students down here have a really awesome opportunity to learn outdoors, learn about our forests, and implement these educational courses,” continued Farris. “These are the kind of partnerships that drive us and connect us as a community,” said Manny Vela, Texas A&M University of Higher Education System of McAllen Vice-President and COO.

“Congratulations to the City of Pharr on this award, we look forward to this lasting partnership which will enhance learning for our students and quality of life for our citizens,” he added. The grants will directly fund recipients’ tree planting, maintenance, and community forestry planning and education efforts as part of their larger, unique urban forestry solution campaigns. “This is an exciting partnership for PSJA ISD, the City of Pharr, and Texas A&M as we collaborate to transform lives through education while enhancing our sustainability,” stated Alejandro Elias, PSJA ISD Superintendent. Additionally, the program places a strong emphasis on increasing schoolyard tree canopy coverage by 30% to create accessible community treescapes.

“We are ecstatic to be recipients of this grant and look forward to partnering with PSJA ISD to increase schoolyard tree canopy coverage, which will not only create healthier more sustainable environments but help improve the outdoor space for our students and community which enjoy our parks,” said Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D.

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