Ground Work Dallas
On September 15th, 2021 Katherina Kang, Education Director of Groundwork Dallas, sat down with Sarah to talk about some of the great work they are doing in North Texas.
Katherina, why don't you introduce yourself and let us know a little about you:
My name is Katherina Kang. I am the Education Director for Groundwork Dallas, I focus on creating youth education opportunities for our volunteers and attendees at our events, this can range from quick education moments to water quality education days or working with anyone who is interested in volunteering with our organization.
I recently graduated with a Masters from UNT in Urban Geography and did my research in urban soil pollution. I am interested in broadening the idea of urban environmental sustainability practices, especially within in my Dallas Community. Growing up as a Dallas resident I have always felt a connection with the city of Dallas. I also felt like there is an isolating feeling in the city, there isn't a lot of nature around. I want to bring more conservation to our local communities is a big driving factor for me in this role.
Tell us a bit about Groundwork Dallas
Groundwork Dallas is an environmental based non-profit focused on youth education and development, we are focused on changing the Dallas landscape. Our moto is "changing places, changing lives." We believe that by doing the simple things, focusing on our local community, changing the landscape by removing empty lots, cleaning up local parks, we improve the mindset of our youth and inspiring environmental stewardship. Beyond that we are focused on beautification projects in the City of Dallas and encouraging sustainable practices, we work on trails, garbage bins, and so much more. We want the city to be a safe and accessible place for our South Dallas youth.
How do you work in the nature and equity space in Dallas?
Groundwork Dallas really focuses on always doing what we say we will, so we always have boots on the ground all year round, working on various projects: Saturday trash cleanups, focusing on places like Frasier Damn, LB Houston Nature Trail, and Hines Park. We also are focusing on our Dallas communities, cleaning empty lots - making sure they are ready for future projects, water quality education, and providing STEM environmental science to communities that are disadvantaged or have been marginalized in the past, giving youth the opportunity to see they can make a difference and change their landscape without relying on others who may not be interested in their community. We are teaching skills like urban gardening and urban habitat restoration to those who participate in our programs, giving them a safe opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. We also have certain projects that are focused on these marginalized communities, we always try to get more volunteers especially in South Dallas ISD areas.
What are some projects you have going on right now?
We just completed our Summer Youth Conservation program with the Trinity River Crew, it is a 13 person team of area High School Students where we are able to give them a paid conservation experience. We take them to nature centers and parks all across Dallas working on projects ranging from: monofilament container installation, creating bee hotels, urban garden installation, water quality surveys and invasive species removal, and trash pickup.
Now, we are moving on to our general all year round projects. We are going to schools and other organizations/partners and providing environmental education experiences and helping them with working with youth. Some of the programs we are doing are creating bee hotels, introduction to biological water quality surveys, trash cleanups and dragonfly appreciation, simple things to peak their interest in environmental science subjects.
One big project we are hoping to start up soon is E-coli testing project at Joes Creek, which is highly contaminated with human feces and trash. We are partnering with Water is Alive trying to set up filtration using mushroom bio-filters.
Lastly, we are working on a trash art creation project, working with our youth to turn the trash they collect into art. Then installing them in local parks and having youth to beautify their own parks.
How is collaboration important for the overall success of this program?
It is incredibly important for us as an organization, while we have the manpower to make all of these changes to these parks, it is truly the opportunity to teach it and to promote it to our local community to keep it going. Working with our partners like the International Rescue Committee or the Texas Conservation Alliance or the Trinity Park Conservancy, anyone who can provide students or volunteer who are interested in what we are doing and how they can help is the biggest mission for us at Groundwork.
What makes you passionate about helping children and families spend time outdoors?
Growing up in Dallas I have always been a city girl and never got many chances to spend time experience the outdoors. But, when we had a chance I would go camping with my family and it was the best time, I could breathe fresh air, swim in the creek without worrying about anything gross. It was such a formative moment in my young life, it drove me into the environmental field. I want to inspire every student to see the beauty of the outdoors and to preserve it. Creating a healthy environment and lifestyle for them in the future as well.
What are some ways Texas Children in Nature Network can support your work?
Texas Children in Nature Network can help promote our events and projects, we always have something going on, but I would love to have more people knowing about the work we do. We hope to share out with our North Texas Partners and help support their conservation efforts.
Thank you Katherina for your time today.
Learn more about Groundwork Dallas by checking out their website: https://groundworkdallas.org/