Armand Bayou – ‘The Jewel on the Bay’

June 1st, 2018

John Collier, from right, and other guests welcome Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner as retiring Armand Bayou Executive Director Tom Kortrude looks on in the background.

Rick Clapp and Jackie Young of THEA

By Rick Clapp

One of Bay Area’s most precious jewels is the Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena. The Annual Earth Day Party for the Planet was held on Saturday, April 28 and was another big success — raising thousands of dollars and was a total sellout. The annual Spring Celebration and fundraiser included a lavish silent auction featuring Astros tickets, feeding the Bison, nature paintings, Yeti Coolers, signature Audubon style bird dinner plates and more. Hors d’oeuvres galore were hand passed and served by an attentive wait staff from Melange Catering.

The highlight each year is the incredible buffet dinner and drinks served under the big white tent. It was again provided by the Kessler’s of One Stop Tents and Events. Dinner included tender grilled Airline chicken, mouthwatering beef tenderloin Au Poivre, mixed green salad, roasted basil, new and Peruvian purple potatoes, oven roasted Brussel sprouts and a vegetable medley. The dessert was divine — a Tiramisu trifle or a strawberry shortcake trifle. It not only looked great, it tasted d’lish. The Crème de la Crème was provided at the events end which was a decadent late night snack, a farm table s’mores station.

The live auction was well bid on, and all went for great value. It included Astros memorabilia, a fishing trip, pontoon boat tour for 80, an evening of art and cheese at Disegno Studio in Houston, a round of golf at the premier Golf Club of Houston for four with caddies and a trip to Florida’s Disney World. There was also a guided private canoe trip for six on Armand Bayou with Mark Kramer. Evening entertainment was live music by Andy and the Dreamsicles.

The evening honored the hardworking, dynamic Tom Kortrude, who celebrated his 10 years as the executive director of ABNC and will graciously retire this summer. Congratulations Tom, and best wishes in your new ventures. A job more than well done. Bravo. Special thanks goes to David Rante, Laurel Williamson, Garry McMahan, Linda Retherford, all the sponsors and people at ABNC.

Mark your calendar for next year’s Armand Bayou Nature Center Party for the Planet. Your funds will protect our Jewel on the Bayou, and I personally guarantee you a grand ole time on the bayou.

Armand Bayou Nature Center extends it gratitude to everyone who made the 2018 Earth Celebration another huge success. For more information call 281-474-2551.

City of Seabrook recognized as local leader of conservation

December 1st, 2017

Seabrook Mayor Thom Kolupski talks about the work of his city’s Open Space and Trails Committee as he accepted the 2017 Armand Award on behalf of his city.

Armand Bayou Nature Center recognized the City of Seabrook with the 2017 Armand Yramategui Conservation Award for its commitment to conservation through development and implementation of its Open Parks and Spaces plan on Nov. 2.

Mayor Thom Kolupski accepted the award on behalf of the City of Seabrook from ABNC President Linda Retherford at a luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club. In an acceptance presentation, Kolupski highlighted the work completed by the city and driven by members of its Open Space and Trail Committee.

Trees for Houston Executive Director Barry Ward delivered the keynote speech which touched on the long-term economic benefits of conservation efforts on a local level. Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership Executive Director Dan Seal served as an emcee, leading the event attended by 120 community leaders and ABNC supporters.

Tom Kartrude, executive director of Armand Bayou Nature Center, talks with Port Houston Vice President Charlie Jenkins, as he joins the crowd at the nature center luncheon.

The Armand Award, which memorializes renowned Texas conservationist Armand Yramategui, is presented to an individual or organization in the Bay Area Houston/Clear Lake region that best represents community interests and efforts to conserve local natural resources for the benefit of native wildlife, ecosystem services, environmental education, and public access to nature.

Armand Yramategui was widely known for his unwavering dedication and commitment to public service and his strong desire to preserve Texas’ wetlands and wildlife. Following his death, Middle Bayou – the only remaining bayou in the greater Houston area still in its natural state – was renamed in his honor, beginning a campaign to secure donations to buy park land for the preserve.

Protecting the nature center and coastal preserve, which lie downstream from such a large and fast growing urban region, requires the cooperation and collaboration of many organizations and the dedication of many citizens and volunteers, . Today, ABNC relies on a network of public and private partners to achieve its conservation goals and to accomplish its environmental education mission and awards the Armand to recognize those contributions.

The first Armand was presented to Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1987. In 2015 and 2016, the Armand was awarded to The Galveston Bay Foundation and Master Naturalist Emmeline Dodd, respectively.

Emmeline Dodd honored for dedication to nature

December 1st, 2016

Emmeline Dodd holds the Conservation Award she was presented by the Armand Bayou Nature Center Board of Directors at a luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club. With her are, from left, BAHEP executive and emcee Dan Seal, ABNC Board of Directors President Linda Retherford, Trendmaker Homes President Will Holder and ABNC Executive Director Tom Kartrude.

Emmeline Dodd holds the Conservation Award she was presented by the Armand Bayou Nature Center Board of Directors at a luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club. With her are, from left, BAHEP executive and emcee Dan Seal, ABNC Board of Directors President Linda Retherford, Trendmaker Homes President Will Holder and ABNC Executive Director Tom Kartrude.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Emmeline Dodd, well known for her tireless dedication to nature as a naturalist, environmentalist, educator, advocate, and leader, has been recognized by Armand Bayou Nature Center with the 2016 Armand Yramategui Conservation Award.
The presentation came at a luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake, where Linda Retherford, president of the ABNC Board of Trustees welcomed the standing-room-only crowd, who came to honor the long-time community volunteer.

“The award memorializes the renowned Texas conservationist Armand Yramategui (for whom the nature center is named),” said emcee Dan Seal, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership executive, explaining it is awarded to an area individual or organization “that best represents the community’s interests and efforts to conserve local natural resources for the benefit of native wildlife, ecosystem services, environmental education and public access to nature.”

Will Holder, president of Trendmaker Homes, presented the keynote address on how the Houston area currently is home to 6.6 million — a total that will rise to 7.4 million by 2020 – and how his company and other developers are working to accommodate this growth, “We take land that has no characteristics and turn it into an asset – an area people can be proud of,” showing film of how scrubby looking land can be turned into a beautiful community.

He knows the local area well, he said, having worked years ago for Friendswood Development Co. when it was developing some 6,000 lots into what today is Clear Lake City.

His new development, the Reserve at Clear Lake, is not far from the nature center. It has 770 lots and covers 372 acres. So far, he said, 161 lots have been sold and 75 have closed. Besides building the same elegant homes one sees around Clear Lake, Trendmaker plans an abundance of green space with multiple pocket parks, he told the luncheon crowd. In fact, 100+ acres is being set aside for green space.

“We try to offer affordable living choices and make the Reserve a place people can be proud of.”

Dodd, the Galveston Bay Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists said in nominating her, “exemplifies a model conservationist as a Certified Texas Master Naturalist and an exceptional environmental educator. Emmeline’s passion to reconnect people with nature exemplifies the mission of the Armand Bayou Nature Center and the vision of Armand Yramategui.
“Emmeline shares her knowledge of local natural resources and skills as an effective educator to teach Master Naturalists, teachers and children across the state about the uniqueness of our natural resources. She has educated hundreds of students through the Master Naturalist Program. Emmeline inspires others and cultivates a spirit of conservation. Her conservation accomplishments are evidence that one person can make a real difference in preserving nature for future generations.”

A retired College of the Mainland biology professor, she holds degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. During her three decades at COM, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award three times, and in 1998 was named a Piper Professor as one of the Top Ten Professors in Texas colleges and universities and was elected state president of the Texas Community College Teachers Association.

Other honors include being chosen a UH-Clear Lake Distinguished Alumna, as one of the Clear Lake Area Chamber’s “50 Faces” that shaped the Bay Area and a Men and Women of Heart Gala honoree.

She also received the 2008 Chuck Buddenhagen Memorial Award from the Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists and has devoted more than 2,500 volunteer hours to the Master Naturalists and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.