Jennifer Larios, EEI 2017 Intern
On Wednesday, my fellow interns and I had t he privilege to visit Texas A&M’s AgriLife Research Center. Going into this, I did not expect to take so much away from a simple visit. To my surprise, I learned about a whole different side of water conservation and about new careers in the environmental science field in general.
To get a better picture of the importance of Agrilife, it is a good idea to learn exactly what it is and what its purpose is; Texas A&M’s AgriLife Research Center is a state-of-the-art technology development agency in agriculture, natural resources, and the life sciences.
While our stay, we were able to meet Daniel Cunningham – who is part of AgriLife’s Water University Program. Water University is a program that conducts public outreach and research on water conservation and quality statewide. We were able to take a tour of the house and two apartments that AgriLife constructed in order to showcase that conservation and design can coexist; in other words, they were able to demonstrate that living a comfortable life while also saving water is possible. Low-flow toilets, sensory devices and recycled materials were a few of the innovations used throughout the house. My favorite part of the house were the sinks; instead of waiting 15-20 seconds for the water to get warm, there is a button on the side of the sink that you press in order to get hot water in a matter of a couple of seconds. As you can imagine, this small detail can save many valuable drops of water.
Figure 1. A water sense house include changes both outside and inside of a house towards a more sustainable usage of water.
Daniel talked to the Dallas EEI team about horticulture, and the ability to save water while also enjoying gardening. We learned about collecting rainwater to water the plants when water is running low, and other helpful tricks. Daniel also talked about composting and the importance of disposing of waste in a manner that is healthy to the Earth. Rather than sending our scraps to the landfill, we can compost it and use it for our gardens. This type of proactive thinking has incited change throughout our history.
Figure 2. Interns were able to learn about horticulture and how it can be used to save water
AgriLife’s Water University, like Dallas EEI, has made conserving water a mission. Educating the public about these issues, and building on basic knowledge will help make noticeable impact in our communities. In the near future, when I start a garden, I will make sure to take both Daniel’s and AgriLife’s advice to save water and live a more waste-free life. In conclusion, this field trip to AgriLife opened my eyes to many different issues I paid little to no attention to before, and definitely helped make me into a more conscious person.
Figure 3. Using native plants can help use water, attract pollinators and keep a fresh look in the front yard.