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Rio Grande International Study Center Wins Second-Place Gulf Guardian Award

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Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (

DALLAS – (Nov. 30, 2017) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced the Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC) Mexico Chapter won a second-place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Bi-national Category. The award recognizes hands-on science education work involving water quality sampling in the Rio Grande basin.

Ben Scaggs, Director of Gulf of Mexico Program said, “Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem. Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.” 

RGISC’s mission is to preserve and protect the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo, its watershed and environment, through awareness, advocacy, research, education, stewardship and bi-national collaboration for the benefit of present and future generations.    

Launched in 2010, RGISC’s Rio Research Roundup (RRR) is a binational water testing project that brings greater environmental awareness about the health of several river basins that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Each October, nearly 3,000 students and teachers from 90 U.S. and Mexico teams take a field trip and sample water from the Rio Grande or related tributary, to provide a compelling snapshot of the river basin’s health. Students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the river basins and local creek systems, as well as the Gulf’s estuarine waters, all of which sustain our Gulf and border communities and wildlife populations. The RRR enriches their science curriculum, making it more memorable and meaningful.

As part of the project, students submit artwork, short videos and essays based on their data to be housed on the RGISC website. Student teams are also encouraged to provide a presentation of their work and findings at either their school campus or within their community. RGISC then works with various biologists and water experts to review the quality of the students’ work, and winners are announced for both countries.

This unique project provides teachers and their students with an opportunity to learn how interconnected our water supply system is and how they can make a difference to improve its long-term health. RGISC believes that investing and supporting these types of events will help achieve positive community-wide outcomes throughout the multiple river basins that drain into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts. This year’s ceremony will be held on November 30, 2017, at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama. 

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

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