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green Saving the Natives An Austin Charity Preserving the Native Landscape

Reviewing Nature

The Green Machine

Reworking The Land

Here at simplygreen, we attempt to expose the true beauty of nature, to allow readers to experience opportunities of the natural world in Central Texas, and to encourage others to preserve the value of our ecosystem. We must bring nature into a new light.

Simple. Natural. Green. The way it should be.

- the simplygreen staff

Table of Contents Global Warming: Yeah, it’s Not a Myth . . . . . . . . . 1 Saving the Natives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 The Abandonment of the Bus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Featured Texan Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Odd Animals of Texas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Don’t Get Fried, Go Outside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Reviewing a Piece of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 The Green Machine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Headline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Hit the Ground Running . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Baida’s ASF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Don’t Tread On Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Biographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Yeah, it’s not a myth. BY GRACE W.

I’ll come right out with it. I’m actually, amazed that some people still think it is. I suppose if you’ve never stepped outside during the summer then maybe you could still think nothing of climate change. I’ll come right out with it; global warming? Yeah, it’s not a myth. Actually, I’m amazed that some people still think it is. I suppose if you’ve never stepped outside during the summer then maybe you could still think nothing of climate change. Don’t believe me? Would you believe that there has been a twenty percent increase of carbon emissions since 1990? That carbon emissions are causing a green house gas effect? That people who ignore this completely are a bigger problem than the actual rise in temperatures? I would, especially that last bit. People who are in denial about global warming are almost as bad as people who know about it and decide to ignore it. Both really aren’t doing anything to help the environment.

Fortunately, there is a cure for that particular branch of stupidity. All you have to do is step out side. Anytime really. Global warming is main cause for the newfound temperature extremes; summers will be hotter and winters will be colder. Simple. Unfortunately so. It’s sad how easy it has become to find examples of climate change, proof for what is happening to our planet. Despite the amount of proof rising with the temperature, people still deny that they are slowly killing our once-green earth. Why, aside from pretending to avoid blame, I don’t know. Ignorance when it comes to this topic is actually somewhat funny. Taking to people who believe it’s a myth is like taking someone from the 1200’s and telling them the world is round; they first vehemently deny it, then they stop listening, state “facts” no one cares about, and finally, they resort to violence to prove their point. Well, maybe not that last part, but I’ll stand by the first ones.


Global Warming?

Photos Courtesy Of Chanan Sessler

Saving the


N The story of a LASA born charity devoted to saving Texas’ Native environment

andina domestica, Photinia fraseri, Ligustrum japonicum, and Bambusa oldhamii. Jordan Sessler, founder of EcoTexas, must study all of these plant species. Yet he does not learn how to preserve them; he attempts to destroy them. In 2006, Sessler founded, along with two other local teenagers, EcoTexas, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of Texas’s native landscape. BY CHANAN S.

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Despite the early modest goals of removing a few native plants, the dream of EcoTexas soon grew to control invasive removal, native restoration, invasive awareness, and lobbying for nursery restrictions and invasive removal funding throughout all of Austin. “It matters that there are now grant funds available for a dozen community groups to get money to go out and cut down these plants,” Sessler said. Invasive species are species which, although endemic to another area of the world, are threats to areas in which they are introduced. After the initial introduction to one area, they begin to take over that ecosystem. These species can be introduced both purposefully and accidentally. Species such as the Peruvian fire ants, for instance, may have been stowaways on a vessel, whereas invasive plant species are usually introduced as ornamental plants in landscaping. These invasive species overtake an ecosystem by filling in specific niches of existing native plants, stealing their resources. Take, for example, Nandina. Eventually, the native species, in this case, Evergreen Sumac becomes so malnutritioned, it can no longer live in its original habitat. Unfortunately, even if one species is driven out, the absence can destroy an entire ecosystem due to a domino effect in the food chain. Therefore, this one invasive plant which was introduced will soon collapse an entire native ecosystem. “It’s a big deal,” Sessler, said. “These invasive plants and animals cause huge agricultural problems, they cause huge environmental problems, and the big thing is they cause huge economic problems.” In fact, invasive fire ants cost the average American family $170 a year. Invasive species in general cause $144 billion in the state of Texas each year in terms of economic losses and $40 billion in terms of health damages. According to the Nature Conservancy, 42% of the plants and animals on the endangered species list were driven to their threatened status by the introduction of invasive species. In fact, the organization states that invasive species pose the largest threat to environmental health of any environmental threat; greater than both

habitat loss and global warming. “The amount of extinctions caused by global warming are negligible compared to the amount of extinctions caused by invasive species,” Sessler explained. In terms of EcoTexas’ largest invasive enemies, Waxleaf Ligustrum or Japanese Privet are most likely the largest. However, they are already out of control, thus there are very few things organizations such as EcoTexas can do, whereas Nandina remains EcoTexas’ largest enemy. “[These plants] are still sold in stores throughout Central Texas. You can still go

[native] plants would rather grow Nandina, because they can grow that in a month, they don’t have to put in any effort, they just throw some sh-- in a pot and some Nandina sprouts up and they ship it off to Home Depot.” While it may seem counter-intuitive, every organization involved in the marketing of plants for home and garden use prefers to sell the harmful invasive species as opposed to their native counterparts. This, according to Sessler, is due to the fact that corporations are far more concerned with profit than environmental health.

“The amount of extinctions caused by global warming are negligible compared to the amount of extinctions caused by invasive species.” to Home Depot and buy it at a cheaper price than any of the other plants, and people put these in their yards, and all through the season those little red berries grow, and the blow off in the wind and flow down in the water and slowly spread throughout Texas,” Sessler said. Unfortunately for invasive removal groups such as EcoTexas, many of these invasive plants have multiple avenues for reproduction. A single Nandina plant is capable of producing hundreds of seeds. Those seeds roll down the hill, blow in the wind, or even travel in streams. A couple years after they sprout, they have already reached sexual maturity, and their seeds may flow down the river and immediately spawn a third generation, exponentially larger than the first. However, immature Nandina can also grow offspring through rhizomes, long running roots which may sprout a clone up to hundreds of feet away. These Nandina grow in large thickets where nothing else can survive. They are toxic and thus kill other plants and animals who naturally live under the canopy. “This is essentially conspiracy by the landscapers,” Sessler explained. “The giant nurseries, instead of growing all of these

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“Then Home Depot marks [the Nandina] up 500% what its worth in price to sell to you and buys it for virtually nothing,” Sessler said. “Versus, if they have to grow a Yaupon or Mountain Laurel, which are better plants, for a variety of reasons, it costs them significantly more money and they can’t put the feigned markup on it. It’s simple economics. Of course it doesn’t cost them anything, but it costs society billions of dollars.” EcoTexas advocates that nurseries can market these native plants more favorably than their invasive counterparts, despite the fact that they currently choose not to. Some ways in which these Native plants are superior to the invasive plants is their considerably less need for water, their enhanced fire resistance, their likeliness to attract native animals to an urban area, and their aesthetic appeal. “Native plants are prettier. You know, you can talk about how pretty those Mountain Laurel’s purple flowers that come up every spring, just like Texas has been for centuries,” Sessler said. “It’s really pretty, that’s why people love Texas. That’s why people love to go to parks and enjoy the springtime. That’s why people love this place. Nandina is Japanese, Bamboo is Chinese, and I don’t want to live in a place that looks like China

or Japan, I want to live in Texas.” Sessler said that ever since was young, he enjoyed our state parks, national parks, and even his own yard for their natural beauty. He recalls how much he enjoyed playing under the live oaks and their lush canopies. “Then I took a class called Planet Earth, and I realized these [native plants] were under siege and threatened. Now you can go out with LBJ Cares and work with Keep Austin Beautiful and EcoTexas and whatnot, and you can go weed Ligustrum and Nandina. You can go out and work with all these groups, and all across the region people are starting to pay attention to invasive species,” Sessler said. “But in 2006, that didn’t happen, that didn’t exist. When I took that class called Planet Earth, I said, ‘Damn, I want to change that.’” He and a group of other teenagers went through a state park called Brightleaf, which was almost pristine. Specifically, Brightleaf consisted of a hill overlooking a stream in an urban area. This stream flows lazily toward lake Austin, which, not far from the hill, was clearly visible from the park, reflecting a faint blue hue across it. As a 216 acre green patch (with red dots in autumn) sewed into the center of west Austin, Brightleaf consisted of the original native environment of that area: a thick undergrowth of sumacs completely covered by and impenetrable Ashe Juniper canopy with plenty of oak and elm accents. There were only a few invasives, but some nonetheless. Therefore, they set out to help kill these invasive species. “We saw this [park] and said ‘this place needs to be preserved, other parks need to be preserved’. So we wondered, ‘What can we do?’ ‘Where can we work?’ ‘how can we volunteer to help this?’ There was no place to do it. So we said ‘Somebody ought to do something about this’ So naturally, the dream began,” Sessler said. EcoTexas came into the picture as a bunch of young people dedicated to saving the native habitat from invasive species speaking out more than the other Central Texas environmental organizations. “The other environmental organizations said, ‘We should start caring about this more.’ We got them to add more to their

budgets for invasive species. We got them to devote more time to invasive species. And when we went in and testified before the Texas house of representatives as a headliner, for the anti-invasives campaign, against a 9 billion dollar lobby, the Landscaper’s Association, we changed things,” Sessler said. “People started caring.” In the beginning, EcoTexas simply focused on doing anything they could to save the natives, including raising money, talking to more prominent organizations, or even simply having a small, five or ten LBJ student invasive species removal workday with “man-shackle” tools. This transitioned into a mission of no longer just removing the plants, but also lobbying to have political and social change in terms of landscaping and invasive plant awareness. “We started winning awards,” Sessler said. “We started going on TV. We started putting up signs. We started working with other environmental groups. And at some point, we decided to try to affect political change. Now we were a new organization.” Yet many struggles remained for EcoTexas, namely engaging the community and re-

It’s simple economics. Of course it doesn’t cost the nurseries anything, but it costs society billions of dollars,”

portion of Brightleaf Preserve to saving all of downtown and Zilker Park. Zilker preserve, the area in which EcoTexas has worked, is quite similar to Brightleaf. Indeed, it contains a hill overlooking a stream by the same name as Brightleaf ’s (Dry Creek). However, the vegetation differs slightly. The canopy rises much higher, is mostly composed of broadleaf trees, and the undergrowth is much more sparse. The large population of Spanish Moss appears to drip slowly off of the trees as if it were melting into the prairie-like ground. Although originally containing only a few meadows, there are many more now due to the invasive plant removal efforts. EcoTexas has had over 2000 different volunteers participate in its Zilker Park workdays since they Began. In fact, some of these volunteers have contributed to the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised to hire forest companies, buy new tools, spread awareness, and ensure the absence of the invasives in work sites is permanent. “It was a dream of teenagers,” Sessler said. “It was a lot of work done by teenagers, money raised by teenagers, money managed by teenagers, and workdays organized by teenagers. And it speaks for what EcoTexas is. Despite the fact it inspired all these other, larger, more powerful groups, the City of Austin chose EcoTexas to perform the entire restoration of Zilker.”

“There were people who promised us huge awareness campaigns and shook our hands, saying ‘It’s going to happen,’ but it never did,” Sessler explained. “Because we were kids, we were never taken seriously. We got foxed. That’s why EcoTexas is not as esteemed as it deserves to be. Maybe we were too passive in our efforts, but it seems ageism played a part in this.”

EcoTexas holds such workdays on a monthly basis, generally consisting of 50-100 volunteers provided with simple hand tools such as saws, loppers, hatchets, and pickaxes. These volunteers are given a short lecture about the Texas native environment instructed on which plants are invasive, and how each can be removed. These volunteers work for hours in one day to seek out and destroy each invasive plant by cutting it and scoring it a couple feet above the ground. Once the volunteers are called in, the park returns to its tranquil aura, the only sounds being occasional bird calls. Afterwards, the stumps are excavated and disposed of by a professional foresting company so they cannot re-spawn. Finally, other companies are contracted to provide seed and saplings for the barren area, ensuring natives will eventually reclaim the land. Any chipped remains of the Invasive Plants are used as mulch for trail restoration.

The goal has grown from restoring a small


ceiving funding. Although EcoTexas was rewarded grants and given special treatment as children, not all of this behavior was favorable. In fact, part of EcoTexas’ largest challenge was the simple fact that everyone involved was a teenager.

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The Abandonment of

The Bus A look at Austin’s transportation impact on the environment and what can be done to progress this city toward green transit.



Photo Courtesy Of Chanan Sessler

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n the year 2002, 9.4 billion public transit trips were taken in America. Although 9.4 billion may sound like a lot, in 1946, the number was nearly twice as much: 23.4 billion. Despite the recent decrease in use of public transit, the need for sustainable transport is greater than ever as the human population reaches its carrying capacity. It is especially critical that Austin improves green transit usage in order to maintain this city’s eco-friendly image. Since the removal of the streetcars in the 1940s, (except for occasional spikes in oil prices) the use of public transit in Austin has been on a steady decline. This has resulted in an increase in Austin’s fuel consumption and a subsequent con-

Austin, as well as the rest of America, ought to increase public transit usage in order to sustain the environment, despite the city’s history of decreased usage. In a study by the University of Wisconsin (2005, “Why People Don’t Mass Transit”), it was found that the major reason people choose not to utilize mass transit is due to increases in travel time. In other words, in the subconscious mind, not only in maxims, time is money. According to the same study, other common reasons include: The hassle of carrying exact change or tickets, transporting groups such as children and luggage such as groceries, and fixed costs, no matter how far one travels. A possible explanation for Austin’s lack of mass transit usage is the low frequency of vehicle circulation throughout the city. For instance, buses and trains run only every 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, and even then are limited to peak hours. This significantly hinders the rider’s convenience. However, much can be done to counteract these low ridership factors, subsequently increasing ridership.

Photo Courtesy Of Chanan Sessler

in an increase in Austin’s fuel consumption and a subsequent contradiction of Austin’s green agenda and ecological virtues. If Austinites once again took advantage of the affordable public transit at their disposal, this city’s environmental quality would improve drastically in addition to easing the pain of this city’s withdrawal from the oil trade.

A Capital MetroRail train departing from Crestview Station virtually empty

The use of mass transit greatly reduces emissions when compared to traditional personal automobile transport. Studies by the American Public Transportation Authority (APTA) show that public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide and nearly 50% less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides per passenger per mile than a private vehicle does. In fact, If one rides a car from a suburb to central Austin, he or she emits nearly 40 lbs of carbon dioxide. If one takes a bus, he emits slightly over 20 lbs. On a train, less than 16. Thus, if one chooses the option of public transit, he or she is vastly improving Austin’s environmental health and expressing Austin’s true green qualities. In addition to reducing emissions, the use of public transit may decrease Austin’s dependency on oil. For instance, 855 million gallons of gas are saved each year, according to the APTA, through the use of public transportation. Moreover, 40% of the US dependency on foreign oil would cease if 1 in 10 Americans favored the bus over his or her car. Although the city of Austin has already made considerable strides in environmental restoration, this city must additionally lead the way when it comes to oil reduction. Despite the fact that Capital Metro has not yet done so, the City of Austin should employ various devices which may promote Austin’s mass transit ridership, namely reducing fares. The first of these mechanisms includes reducing fares, a plan which has proved itself through Capital Metro trials. For example, the newly introduced MetroRail, according to Capital Metro, was projected to exceed 2000 riders a day with a continued increase in ridership. However, it has only received an average of 900 riders per day. The service currently costs 3 dollars from Leander to downtown Austin; yet when the service was complimentary, the average ridership was over 3000. Ergo, the logical conclusion is that the simplest way to improve ridership may include cutting fares. Regardless of the fact that many believe this method would decrease revenue by substantially more than the city could afford, there is a strong counterargument: Capital Metro’s 2009 self-evaluation states that the organization obtains a mere 3% of its funds from fares, as these are supplemented with taxes, grants, and contracting of freight rail lines. Furthermore, only a small amount of this 3% funding is derived from MetroRail (the rest from local bus service).

If one chooses the option of public transit, he or she is vastly improving Austin’s environmental health

Another proven impetus is a spike, or even general increase in gasoline prices, possibly through a gas tax. According to Capital Metro, throughout the first four months of 2008


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Texan Park Guadalupe Mountains NP



hese Mountains are home to substantially larger animals than the neighboring desert. Two common mammals are listed below:


remote location and deceptive looks of a desert mountain range largely prevented settlers from colonizing the area. Finally, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this mountain range gave way to ranchers and vacationers before eventually becoming preserved as a national park. This majestic wilderness can be divided into three separate ecoregions. Atop the mountains lies the aforementioned alpine plateau, scarecely observed in such a southern setting. Below this, the canyonlands are home to a temperate forest. Finally, the mile-high desert provides stark contrast to the mountain wilderness.

-Elk (Wapiti): Although this large deer is found all throughout most mountainous regions in North America, Elk are quite rare in this region of the continent. Originally found in copious amounts throughout the mountains, settlers soon extirpated them. Only about 30 to 40 currently exist in the range due to a large reintroduction effort.

-Mountain Lion (Cougar): The largest predator in the mountains, the puma feeds upon all the ungulates which inhabit the mountains. Unfortunately, as the number of elk and bighorn sheep declined, so has the population of these cats.

Clouds cover the tops of the Pine Springs Canyon walls. At the pinnacles of these peaks lies a lush alpine forest hidden from sight unless one embarks upon a day long ascent to the plateau above.



iking is central to any trip involving the majestic Guadalupe mountains. Some recommendations are listed below:

-The Bowl Trail: Encircling the densest portions of thhe alpine forest, the bowl trail is optimal for anyone who wishes to explore the alpine forest first-hand.

-Guadalupe Peak Trail: This trail travels to the top of Texas. Although the trail has astounding views, be warned, as it is quite strenuous and may include temperature drops of over 50 degrees.

-Devil’s Hall Trail: Although it contains spectacular sights of fall color for a month each year, this short trail takes a tour of the Pine Springs canyonlands fit for any season.



lthough surrounded by a desert climate on all sides, the alpine ecosystem in the Guadalupe Mountains sports some of the most definite mountainous plant species. These largely include old growth conifers such as Douglas Firs, Southwestern White Pines, Ponderosa Pines, and Blue Junipers. Despite being surrounded by flora indicative of a northern alpine climate, one is quickly reminded of the desert encompassing him by occasional agaves and Prickly Pears. Large broadleaf trees are also dominant in this area, including Aspen, Alder, and various oak varieties. These may occasionally migrate into lower lying areas such as the canyons. In addition to the aforementioned large conifers, canyon lands in these mountains are home to smaller conifers such as Red Berry Junipers, Alligator Junipers, and Pinion Pines as well as smaller, more drought and heat resistant broad leafs; specifically, Bigtooth Maples, Grey Oaks, Littleaf Walnuts and the rare Texas Madrone. Perhaps this wide array of plant species contributes most directly to the alpine aura of this national park.

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Photo Courtesy Of Chanan Sessler

est Texas is generally thought of as a desolate badlands. Guadalupe Mountains national park vehemently denies this stereotype. Lush coniferous forests envelop the rocky mountain terrain at elevations of nearly 9,000 feet. Various large mammals such as bighorn sheep lay upon exposed boulders, towering thousands of feet above the Chihuahuan Desert. Yet none of this is visible from the Visitors’ Center, or, for that matter, anywhere south or east of the peak. In fact, the immense rain-shadow maintains the relative secrecy of the alpine and subalpine treasures near the peaks. Once inhabited by Mescalero Apaches, the


dd A nima ls of Te xas What are some of the strangest animals in Texas? I don’t have any idea, Oh wait I know! Look down!

Houston toads look like most other toads, and have the poison sack defense on their back like many other toads. But these toads are actually diurnal, unlike many other toads, and have a bright purple throat. These toads are also very temperature concious, and will burrow underground if the temperature is too cold or too hot.

The mocking bird is an interesting bird. Many people say that a mocking bird has a beautiful call, but what is it? Mocking bird’s calls are actually a well put together medly of all of the other birds that it hears and does not have it’s own song. This is why it got the name, Mocking bird.

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What the heck is that? Oh sorry it’s a Jaguarundi. At first glance, many people wouldn’t think this is native to Texas, or is even a type of cat. This cat is one of the smaller big cats, and is diurnal unlike a lot of cats. The jaguarundi is a very good climber, and are very flexible. They keep the same coloration through their life, and were originally thought to be solitary. Yet recent studies have shown that they have many different, sounds suggesting socialism.

The appearance of it is not the only thing strange about the Texas blind slamander. This salamander has external gills, the orange things that stick up above his head. These salamanders over time have gone completely blind because they tend to live in caves deep inside the Edwards Aquifer. This little salamander feeds on whatever happens to float into the caves.

The Texas horned lizard, also know as the horny toad, is one of those endangered species that everyone seems to know. These guys have been rapidly declinging because of loss of habitat and loss of their main food supply, ants. How many animals do you know of that like to go sit in the middle of an ant pile and lick ants off of the ground. Another strange thing about these lizards is their form of defense. If they come across a predator to big to do anything, they will increase the blood pressure in their and pop a blood vessel, causing blood to come shooting out of their eye. they aim for the eye and are a pretty good aim because the hit the target about 7 out ten times.

simplygreen | Texas December 2010 | Page 5 Photos courtesy of Parks and Wildlife

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Don’t get fried go OUTSIDE


lickng the remoteover, and over finding the perfect channel to watch after a hard day of work, finally something that gives back or how much work that is done throughout the day, and all the hard work put in through out your day. Every moment put into the channel the nerves calms down and finally finding the perfect channel just to stop at, putting your feet up relaxing. Watching television for so long that you have fallen asleep head laying down on the couch/ chair, but every moment spent watching that

television some of the problems you complain to your doctor about have come to haunt you as you watch your television. Your eyesight may worsen, you forgot to exercise, so the food you ate didn’t burn off it just stayed their, so while watching television weight can is not totally inevitable. Get out of the house, and smell the roses, because it’s a different world outside the picture boxes they invented years ago, the same television show playing over and over. Watching actors be something so unreal, it’s not true, nature is true and honest. Although television viewing is pleasurable there is some consequences for watching an excessive amount. To prove the information that I

am giving you today I would like to give you evidence from a study named Television Statistics. The corporation that did the study was composed by A.C. Nielsen Co. The examination of the study was that television viewing among children is becoming extremely dangerous to their basic health issues (hearing, eye sight, and brain damage). In the study the results were that out of the 4,000 people that participated in the experiment, the kids were asked if they prefer spending time with their fathers or watch television and the diagnostics for the test were that 54% chose to watch television. The average child watches 1,680 minutes of television per week.

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Don’t get fried, go outside!

Children spend 900 hours in school per year, and 1500 hours per year watching television. I got this information from health/docs, click on TV and Health. The information speaks for itself, and there is nothing more that I can add that would make you see different if the statistics didn’t tell you something. Without the outdoors children are going to miss the good things in nature, and may have some health problems. If kids don’t play enough they could start developing eye problems and weight issues ( go_play_outside.aspx). Now a days when children go outside to play they only play out for about 30 minutes a week. There are children with problems with their ing. What’s keeping their is so much to do health, and so far tele- most American families in outside of the house vision is the one of the inside is the electronics that doesn’t mean go to causes for certain health in the house which they a movie, or something problems, because they spend 44.5 hours a week indoors I mean plain and aren’t getting enough on. Although, these mea- clean outside air their is exercise and keeping the sures and theories may going to a park, having a body healthy enough to mean nothing they show picnic, or even the most keep it strong their body impact later in the fu- simplest thing to just go fluids just sit there ab- ture. Well in my opinion for a walk in the neighsorbing the sugar that at the moment children bor hood and just it’s supposed to be burn- should go outside more

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explore the area around you to see what things can be done. Their is no excuse not to take an hour in each day and do something outside to have fun it’s Austin, Texas this city is known for being a tourist attraction why not explore those places that everyone comes here for. On a free Saturday you could make a trip to Volente Beach, it’s for everyone in the family it has a lot of water slides, and a little kids area. For a an amazing pool there is the choice of going to Barton Springs, it’s clean natural springs fed pool. If you think there is nothing fun to do find your sense of adventure, and go to the Canopy Tours which are also within Austin, for more information about the places go to If there is something to do out there, and there is no excuse in my opinion to not go outside, and try it at least there is many options to do it’s Austin, Texas just try and find something that interest you. Television is entertaining, and it can bring different roles that when you need them they are there. They could be a babysitter when there is work to be done, and it works because they are enticed by the magic it brings into life. It may be a option, but excessive amounts of television can really damage children’s bodies because if they get so use to just sitting around they are not burning all the food their eating they aren’t experiencing (Rest of story on Jump Page)

The Servey of tv vs. going outside

As seen throughout all the photos (on the left) the outdoors is a wonderful place to be in no matter where in nature a person is there is always something to do. In a survey of random selected students there was a high number of students who prefered to be inside then outside during the summer.

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“People can hike, bike, we have a paved trail” said Kelly Serio (Park interpreter/volunteer coordinator). “People can actually mountain bike, you can fish for the first time here. We have tackle that people can

borrow for free from the park to try fishing, you can go swimming here. You can watch wildlife for birds.

Pictures courtesy of Baida Jasso

Hearing the whistle and the hum of the wind going through your ear, feel the cool water touching your bare feet, listening to the breeze as it goes through the trees as you relax in the evening light. The scurrying of the animals against the brown soil, the waterfall going through its natural course, as it appears so close, but is heard from a far. Waiting for the melody of the moment as the water and the wind are just right, and you hear the perfect melody of the elements. This place is McKinney Falls State Park, in Austin, TX. [It’s a place for the entire family to enjoy the day in.] The activities that can be done here are endless from taking a hike to camping at the park for the first time. All parks have created rules for their park, and so has McKinney Falls, their rules are created to ensure the safety of all its visitors and the park itself as well. There are also rules for the activities done at the park,a few examples of the rules when going camping are if you’re 16 or under you have to have somebody 18 or older with you. Another rule that is used at all time would be no public display or consumption of alcohol.

You can go camping here for the first time, and we even have a special program called The Texas Outdoor Family called The Texas Outdoor Family (It’s a program that shows how to do activities in the outdoors). ” The park is an amazing place to be, if going there for the first time there is always something to do within the park. “Texas Outdoor Family has come to McKinney Falls many times, and they actually bring out all of the equipment and show people the

“People can actually mountain bike, you can fish for the first time here. We have tackle that people can borrow for free from the park to try fishing, you can go swimming here. You can watch wildlife for birds. You can go camping here for the first time, and we even have a special program called The Texas Outdoor Family (It’s a program that shows how to do activities in the outdoors). ”


a Little Piece of


the basics of camping that have never camped,” Serio said. If uncomfortable with the idea of going camping in the without past experience, the Texas Outdoor Family shows the basics of what camping really is, and how one may go on with the procedure. “We see lots and lots of deer, lots of raccoons. Also there is a magatory pack of raccoons that comes through occasionally; [also] ] there is wild turkey [and] Grey Fox.” Serio said. As well as that there are numerous amounts of birds with a long list of species. Adults, teenagers, parents, and animals all around there is something to do for everyone. “Last summer we had a junior ranger camp, it was a week long it featured all kinds of activities ranging from archeology to kayaking, archery, fishing, swimming, and in the past they’ve done biking, arts and crafts.” Serio said. There are things to do for everyone at McKinney Falls State Park. Kids can go for a swim, or if they want to go there in the summer there are many programs for kids, and teenagers. For adults they can do any activity in the park; they can go hiking, camping, anything they can do. “We have large groups of different girl’s scouts, boy scouts. Adventure princess, adventure guides. Adventure princess, adventure guide are from the YMCA. We had a large orienteering group that came to Austin.” Serio said. The park isn’t just for relaxation, etc. It’s also for business and meetings. “Some people do family reunions in the dining hall,” Serio said. Its beauty has inspired many weddings; there have been many weddings, and there is still more to come in the nearby future.


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Green Machine BY GRACE W.

Virtualization and Energy Proportional Technology Explained

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Surprisingly enough, more technology might just hold the solution. Developers have been working to construct energy efficient technology through new methods and innovative technology. Engineers at IBM Research are working to reduce carbon emissions by conserving energy, specifically applied to data centers, reducing their energy intake. Data centers hold thousands of computers and consequently draw millions of watts. These centers’ computers hold information for things online; from Facebook to a company’s payrolls to the web sites people rely on daily, it is crucial that these centers stayed powered up. But having to constantly bring energy in at this rate is costly, not to mention the negative impact it has on the environment. One data center can easily draw tens of megawatts hours each daythat’s enough energy to power thousands of homes. What exactly is causing so much energy to be drawn from these centers? IBM Research


Data centers are everywhere. Housing thousands of computers each, they suck up energy every day, enough to make up two to three percent of the daily electricity use in the U.S. With all this electricity consumption, it seems as though technology is the real enemy here. But can less technology really be the answer?

engineer Malcolm Ware explains, “In the past, computers were designed so that no matter what they were doing, they drew the same amount of electricity, whether they were working hard, or just loafing,” he says. “In reality, the average [amount of time] that the typical computer is working hard is only about ten percent.” He is currently working to build energy efficient technology for the data centers, something now referred to as energy proportional computers. The amount of energy consumed by these newly designed computers will now depend on the amount of work it has to do. The speed of the computer is now adjustable, and the energy consumed is now proportional to the speed. Also, chips in these computers now have many independent individual processing cores and when computer is not as busy, some of these cores are put completely to sleep, rather than slowing down their speed. Sleeping reduces energy even more than just reducing speed. Cooling fans in the past were based on the room temperatures around the computers in the data center. The newest way to conserve energy is to measure the temperature of each chip inside the computer and only run the fans just as fast as needed to keep the hottest chip from overheating. The cooling fans can draw lots of energy when blowing at high cubic feet per minute rates (CFM). Another twist in achieving higher energy efficiency is through virtualization. “Virtualization is kind of like carpooling,” he says, “Given that the typical computer only works hard ten percent of the time, why not virtualize five of these computers onto one physical computer. That way the physical computer is now working hard fifty percent of the time. This one physical computer typically draws half as much energy running five virtualized computers than those five physical computers working hard ten percent of the time.” “The product itself is highly evolutionary. By slowing the growth rate of the energy consumption of data centers, we’re innovating this research field,” Ware states. “I consider the entire thing a breakthrough.” Energy is being consumed daily with every push of the button. With each click of the mouse, data centers are being called upon are using energy. Energy rates for electronic appliances are rising in the U.S. and computers are no exception. Energy consumption for data centers is rising, but virtualization and energy proportional technology are changing the digital world for the better.

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simplygreen | December 2010 | Page 5 By Zachary Feinberg

The garden behind the back staircase.


ice clean land, plentiful water, food, and space is everything an animal needs to live. If we want to keep them around we have to make sure that they have these things. Renewing unneeded land is essential in native animal protection, and Mr. David Matthews is doing a great job of this. Matthews has been working at Clint Small Middle School since the school opened twelve years ago. In 2000, he started his own Native Plants and Animals classes, in which students learn about the native creatures and plants and tend to the gardens around the campus. Previously Clint Small was a ranch, and before that a cotton farm and this caused the soil to be deprived of nutrients. This is one of the hardest things that he describes that he has come across when planting the many colorful varieties of gardens in Clint Small. He describes one solution is to buy local soil from places such as Geo-Growers or compost their own, but the best thing to do is to use native plants. “With non-natives you have to amend the soil to what they like, protect it against freezing, they usually need extra water, they are more susceptible to pests,” he explains. The native plants have special adaptations that are adjusted to Texas, such as tough waxy leaves to keep in water, and a sort of spout to catch water... both displayed by the yucca. The native plants also provide wonderful habitats for native animals, and students at Clint Small have worked with a wide range of animals. “We’ve put up four purple martin houses and a chimney swift tower. We have screech owl boxes, blue bird houses, and a bat box,” Matthews says. They have worked with many other species too, such as the Monarch butterfly. Twice a year he asks students to capture Monarch butterflies and tag them, so as they pass back through they can record the returning Monarch’s information. “I really love working with students,” comments Matthews. He says that from his early teens he knew that he wanted be a teacher, and that one of his goals in life is to connect kids to nature. He has been working on campuses around Austin for 31 years, and did not originally intend to use native plants but was strongly encouraged by Margaret Bamberger and Suzan Sanders. He’s taught at several schools before Clint Small, including O.Henry, Patton, and Oak Hill: while at O.Henry he started a program with a colleague on The chicken how students can effect change. He works with many organizations to restore coop at Clint Small Middle School. the land around Clint Small, including the National Wildlife Foundation, and the Travis Autobahn Society. Mr. Matthews also works with the Wildflower center, “although not enough,” he comments. He also works with Bee Watchers, and Clint Small recently even became a Green Ribbon School for the students work around the campus. Matthew’s students play an important role in keeping the vegetation around Clint Small bright and healthy. Students are assigned a group, and a specific bed to work with, such as the desert garden by the portable, or the wildflower garden, or the garden behind the back staircase. These students, after learning the uses of each tool, will tend to the gardens, keeping weeds and invasive plants out of the garden keeping it true to being a native Texas bed. They also water plants and trim them back and out of the way for pedestrians. Students are encouraged to bring biodegradable snacks to class, which are in turn composted for the flower beds.

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Sifting through the compost pile. Mr. Matthews and his students have accomplished many different projects over the year along with the colorful gardens practically flowing from the ground. Two years ago a new greenhouse was completed at Clint Small, and now twice a year a native plant sale is held within it. Also in progress is a new vegetable garden so that students can have extremely fresh vegetables on campus. Another new project introduced to Clint Small is a chicken coop. These chickens can model to the local community how to keep the chickens for egg supply as well as providing natural fertilizer and reduce the amount of pests on campus. Students also maintain a pond, in which are held native fish and several turtles that have been sighted, although they are very elusive. “I think it’s important to communicate to kids that nature is close by. It’s not just in the Amazon or the Arctic like the shows they see on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. It’s really right around you and you should tap into that.” Mr. Matthews says. One of the best ways he connects kids to nature is bringing reptiles, spiders, and small mammals into the classroom for the students to look at. Usually when a native non-venomous snake are removed from a home, then it is released on campus. This reduces the student’s fear of snakes and also the rodent population that is thriving on campus. One of his inspirations is Mr. David Bamberger, the owner of Bamberger Ranch. He bought a huge ranch full of cedar trees, deer, and this caused the ground to become deprived of nutrients. He began working with a lot of different water recovery techniques, and does workshops for students and other land owners about the importance of these techniques and water conservation. Mr. Bamberger was also the first to build an artificial bat cave, that many others have been modeled after, and have been a big success. He pioneered many of land restoration practices that have been passed around and practiced by many. His end result was acres of nice clean land, pure water, and hundreds of species of animals. A couple species, such as the golden-cheeked warbler, can rarely be found anywhere else in the world, and are abundant on the ranch. “I don’t think he, [Mr. Bamberger] in his wildest imaginations couldn’t have envisioned how successful it has been,” Matthews says.

Photos courtesy of Zachary Feinberg

We need to conserve the natural lands of central Texas, and if we don’t they will surely begin to shrink and disappear. “I would encourage families to take their kids out more often and visit our state parks; we have a lot of treasures close by, nature preserves, like Westcave and Brightleaf and McKinney’s Rough. They’re all day trips, they’d bring your family closer together, and yourself closer to nature.” Matthews comments. So don’t be afraid to go outside and talk to your plants, give ‘em a treat, like some fresh soil, and make a toad house or two.

Clint Small’s new wildlower garden.

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Photo Courtesy of Grace W.





wo people are running. One drove fifteen minutes before getting to the gym and has been jogging in place for the past half hour. The other laced up his running shoes, was out the door, and has been enjoying the changing scenery and fresh breeze for forty-five minutes.

Two people are running. One drove to the gym; the other jogged around the neighborhood. From the enjoyment level to the workout itself, running outside is so much more efficient and fun then running on treadmills. Running on a treadmill doesn’t give runners the same agility training they would get from running over ground. In fact, running on a treadmill may even damage your running form. Things like very tight or “bouncy” strides are common for treadmill, but incorrect. When you run on a treadmill, it is very easy for your running form to be altered or changed. Things like this increase the likely hood of someone getting seriously injured while running. According to experts at The Running Planet, treadmills have a high tendency to alter running forms in a negative manner. They often “grab” your feet and pull them back under your body, causing stumbling and excessive pressure on your knees. Along with your health, the environment suffers as well. When you run at the gym, it harms the environment more so then just jogging around your neighborhood. It takes money and gas to make that trip to the gym, and when you get there, you have to use electricity to power the machine you’re using. When you simply run around trails, you get natural daylight and you cause the workout. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States is failing to meet the goal for reduced emissions. A treadmill creates a great deal more

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of carbon emissions that are released into the environment, while running around the block doesn’t emit any. Running overground will give you a better workout then running at the gym. For serious athletes, it almost always better to run over ground than it is to run on treadmills, because it gives a more realistic workout. This not only imitates the actual event, but also improves your balance and agility. While running on treadmills is essentially running in place, taking a quick jog around the block will test your reflexes, making you adjust to the ever changing ground. Factors that help are the changing slope angles, uneven pavement or trails, or other obstacles you must go around. They all challenge you and your body more than treadmills are capable of. Running over ground presents a more challenging workout. It allows the person exercising to train several skills at once as well as giving them a realistic simulation of any event they are training for. Long and short, running on ground is healthier for you and the environment. So next time you feel like running, grab your shoes and just head out the door.

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What is needed when going hiking for the first time or anytime 1. One of the most importanbt things when going hiking is wearing something that is appriotate for nature. Shorts, and a sleeveless sports shirts (for example the second outfit in the first picture.) would be one of the simplest things one could wear when going hiking. When going out hiking the clothing worn should be comfortable, and something you could probably wear jogging on a hot day. (Jeans and a T-shirt would be the inappropriate thing to wear when going hiking, the body would get to hot, and you would get dehydrated faster.) 2. When going into hiking it good to bring food along (not big things little snacks). The two pictures demonstrate something that could be brung along. Snack Mix or a bar would be a good snack, becuase unlike regular food it won’t dry up in the heat, or it won’t be to heavy to carry. 3. First Aid Materials- These matierals are just essentials that you may need in case you get hurt while walking through, exotic areas (It’s just an expression, becuase a big are of nature could stay in the same place, but nature is always changing no matter how well someone knows it.) 4. When in the sun for a large amount of time it’s important to protect the sun from skin cancer, so it’s a good idea to have sunscreen on the parts of your body that are being shown to the sun, and extra incase. 5. The water represents to bring lots of water, you do not have to lug around a gallon as such that is shown in the picture. Things not shown on the left Backpack- A backpack will be needed to to carry around the materials you are taking to the park or area that you are in. Map or GPS (Optional)- When going into an area that you are not aware one should come prepare, so that one is not lost. Letting someone know your out there (Also Optitional)- When going into a diffrent area, someone should know your outthere just to be safe.

Don’t Tread on Me Snakes are slithery, hard to see, and are feared by most. Why? If you think about it, what can a snake actually do about you? There is no reason to be afraid of snakes for any cause...


ne reason, as shown by Texas Parks and Wildlife, is that there are only four different types of snakes in the Central Texas area that have venom and can actually do any harm to you. These four types of snakes include the rattlesnake, the coral snake, the cottonmouth, and the copperhead, and if you know how to identify these snakes then you can get off Scott free. Identifying them is simple. The rattlesnake takes care of that with its rattle. As for the coral snake, just remember “red and yellow (being the coral snake), kill a fellow

and red and black (being the king snake that is harmless)” friend of Jack.” The cottonmouth will get in an S-position, and have its cottony white mouth open. The copperhead has a self-explanatory copper colored head. The other snakes of the area, which is about 90%, are harmless. The worst thing that they can do is leave a couple little pinpoints of a hole that barely goes into the skin. Snakes rarely bite anybody. Also according to Texas Parks and Wildlife even a venomous snake will avoid biting someone if they can run. It is actually very hard for a snake to make the protein into venom. Because of this, a snake tries to conserve its venom, and tries not to bite. Most of the time, even when a venomous snake bites it is a dry bite to scare people and to save venom. The actual number of people in Texas that died from a snake bite last year is one, and the highest recorded in history? in 1986 was three. More people

die from lightning strikes in Texas every year than snake bites, and even more people win the lottery than are bit by snakes. Even if you are bitten, as long as you remain calm it takes an hour for rattlesnake venom to kill you. Anti-venom is at every hospital, and the best way to deal with a snake bite is to get to one… and no matter what you have seen, sucking venom out of a bite is not a smart thing to do. Shown by the Department of Ecology Conservation, the total truth is that snakes will not hurt you if you don’t bother them. Snakes only strike when they feel extremely threatened, and are close to you. Despite any stories of snakes chasing

Top 5 Texas Native Pets

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By a landslide, the red eared slider river turtle won the polls. They are aquatic turtles that qrow about a foot in length, and are distinguishable by their red mark on the side of their head.

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In second came the green anole. These little lizards are the most common in central Texas. They are easily recognizable as a small green or brown lizard with pink throat flaps under their chin.

Snake venom is also being used and tested as a “miracle cure,” and may be used in the future to stop tumor growth... The unique movement of a snake is even being used in military kinesiology and rescue missions.

people through the woods and through a river, the fact is that a snake would flee the other way. A snake chasing you would be like saying you enjoy chasing giant monsters that can easily trample over you on a daily basis. A major percent of snake bites are people that chase a snake into a corner and try to pick it up (also shown in polls that the people are usually drunk). Any snake would rather retreat, even the fairly aggressive cottonmouth. I have heard many stories of how snakes will chase you if you make them angry and how snakes will seek out people to bite. People have been taught from the beginning that snakes will hurt you, and these people pass it on and

these pass it on. Eventually you’ll have a whole line of people that hate snakes because your great-grandma told your grandpa that snakes were dangerous. The fear of snakes is even taught through religion, such as in the Garden of Eden when Satan turns into a snake and tries to tempt Eve. Not only should snakes not be feared, but should be embraced (not literally). According to Cornell University studies, snakes in large part reduce the rodent population, and show that the amount of snakes in the area is almost directly proportionate to the amount of rats. Snake venom is also being used and tested as a “miracle cure,” and may be used in the future to stop tumor growth as referred to in National Geographic. The unique movement of a snake, as shown by the National Science Foundation, is even being used in

military kinesiology and rescue missions. So snakes are not something to be terrified of as long as you know the facts. Remember how to identify your snakes. Remain calm around them. The best way to deal with any bite is at a hospital. And whatever you do, if you don’t know a snake, don’t pick it up. So next time you see a friendly nonvenomous snake in the yard, put the shovel down.

Top 5 Texas Native Pets

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In third came the small and loveable rough green snake. This snake is a bright green tree snake found all over a small forest. They can get up to about three to three and and half feet.

In fourth was the a little Texas lungless salamander . These salamanders are almost exclusive to Texas and are a brownish grey color.

Photos courtesy of Zachary F.


Finally, in fifth was the leopard frog. This insanely common frog is green or brown and spotted black. They are just under the size of a tea cup.

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The Abandonment of the Bus (Continued from Page 6)

(Jan-April), Central Texans took 677,914 more trips than the same time period in 2007, an increase of 6.1 percent. At the same time, gas prices rose to $4 per gallon throughout Austin. A clear trend between gas prices and utilization of public transit has been derived accordingly. That being the case, it is presumed that as fossil fuels become a precious commodity, the use of public transit will gradually rise. However, the first increase in gas tax since the 1970’s in Texas may prove to have a similar effect. Although Capital Metro has not planned a fare reduction, the organization has made strides to increase ridership, specifically pertaining to Capital MetroRail. According to Capital Metro, the company now offers free wifi, tray tables, reclining cushioned seats, foot rests, and a fare card system, replacing the use of tickets in buses and trains. The hope is that this improves the quality and convenience of the ride. Additionally, Capital Metro claims that it is devising new ways to increase the frequency and number of trips MetroRail and surrounding bus services produce whilst using existing equip-

Saving the Natives (Continued from Page 4)

The organization is currently finalizing their project at Zilker Preserve and continuing work at Brightleaf. Sessler and the other directors at EcoTexas are looking forward not only to a merger with a more institutionalized organization, Keep Austin Beautiful, but additionally beginning work at Walnut Creek Park. “It’s really easy to make a difference,” Sessler said. “You can go to a nursery and chose a native plant over an invasive, and that simple act will save this state and preserve its environment. You don’t need to get out and cut down trees and haul them out. You don’t even need to give money. All you need to do is know that our native ecosystems are truly amazing.”

ment. These plans, once set in motion, may indeed increase public transit ridership in Austin, and even create a trend in which Austin’s environmental dignity can be restored through reduced emissions. The use of mass transit greatly reduces emissions when compared to traditional personal automobile transport. Studies by the American Public Transportation Authority (APTA) show that public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide and nearly 50% less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides per passenger per mile than a private vehicle does. In fact, if one rides a car from a suburb to central Austin, he or she emits nearly 40 lbs of carbon dioxide. If one takes a bus, he emits slightly over 20 lbs. On a train, less than 16. Thus, if one chooses the option of public transit, he or she is vastly improving Austin’s environmental health and expressing Austin’s true green qualities. In addition to reducing emissions, the use of public transit may decrease Austin’s dependency on oil. For instance, 855 million gal-

Don’t Get Fried, Go Outside! (Continued from Page 12)

anything for themselves, and sometimes to much television causes people to be lazy because their favorite show is on, their watching something, or their just so use to sitting down for long periods of times they minds think they should just sit there all the time. It’s better to go outside there are so many benefits to just go outside for 30 minutes a day there are many benefits to it. Your overall health gets better, your cable bill goes down, and etc.

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lons of gas are saved each year, according to the APTA, through the use of public transportation. Moreover, 40% of the US dependency on foreign oil would cease if 1 in 10 Americans favored the bus over his or her car. Although the city of Austin has already made considerable strides in environmental restoration, this city must additionally lead the way when it comes to oil reduction. After all, the nation regards Austin as an green city. In order to cement this reputation, a serious transportation focused emission reform must take place in addition to the cutting-edge alternative energy now available within the city. Since public transit is one of the mot accessible approaches to emission reduction, Austin must consider this mode of transportation to be paramount in reducing the town’s emissions. Austin, unlike many American cities, has managed to retain its ecological decency. Utilize the public transit at your disposal and preserve Austin’s environmental integrity.




Chanan S. is a 14 year old native Austinite currently enrolled at

Her given name is Baida J. She is a 14 year old LASA student, and going on strong and hopeful that this year will be one of the greats to remember. The outdoors fascinates her, because something is always changing, she could spend hours at a park, and not notices time go by, the beauty of the outdoors is an amazing site. Her ethnicity shocks some she’s half Mexican, half black, but she lives and breathes from the Mexican side in her, because it will be the biggest part of her. It’s amazing on how she was born in the perfect place to ride horses, in Amarillo, TX of course. There are so many things to she loves doing, but horseback riding, swimming, and my karate would always be at the top of her list.

the city’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy. He enjoys everything Texan, including the state’s native environment. Due to his love of nature, his passions include solving the climate crisis and furthering the human knowledge of biology. His favorite activities are based around the outdoors.

Zachary F. was born in Illinois on December 14th, 1995. He

spends most of his free time on his trampoline, or searching for animals around his home. He is currently a freshman at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and is a good student but enjoys a good break for traveling. Zach has always strived toward a career in entomology and to move to Hawaii to enjoy the nice tropical air.

Grace W., a fourteen-year-old LASA student, likes to spend her free time procrastinating. One day while avoiding homework, she decided to go for a walk. Appalled by the amount of litter she came across, she whipped off her glasses, looked up to the sky, and, hair blowing in the wind, stated,“This needs to stop.” Suddenly, she knew what she wanted to write about in her electronic magazine class. She now uses this magazine to inform people about the greener things in life.

BIOGRAPHIES simplygreen | December 2010 | Page 28

Simply Green  
Simply Green  

A teen magazine about nature and environmental issues.