Hands-On Learning in 2004 for Laredo Teachers with TAMIU Professor

Hands-On Learning for Laredo Teachers with TAMIU Professor

This summer, Texas A&M International University associate professor of biology Thomas Vaughan will be teaching about the ecology of the Rio Grande, but to a group of students slightly different than the usual undergraduate and in locations a bit more exotic than the classroom. (photos)

Vaughan is a consultant with the University of Texas Health Center San Antonio's South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER). This program, started in 1996, exposes medical students, residents, nursing and public health students to concepts in environmental and public health.

His students also include 17 Laredo teachers from Laredo and United Independent School Districts who are earning master's-level credit from TAMIU as part of a three-week course entitled "Teaching Environmental Science" (TES), funded by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality.

Vaughan explained the teachers and medical students can be found in the hot summer sun, often knee-deep in the waters of the Rio Grande, studying environmental issues regarding air, water and solid waste and other topics with experts in the field.

He said the STEER program is valuable to all participants, providing rare insight into the subject of environment and health.

"It addresses issues that normally receive little attention during medical training. Health professionals rarely spend much time looking at how environmental conditions affect health," explained Vaughan, "This program gives the students a better understanding and appreciation as to the importance of environment conditions and human health."

Vaughan has been with STEER since its inception, and explained this is the second year TES has been offered at TAMIU.

"Our partnership with the STEER program, which is directed by Roger Perales, was so successful last year we were pleased to be able to coordinate our course with the STEER rotation again this summer. The course is being offered at 22 universities this summer," said Vaughan.

For more information, please contact Vaughan at 326.2592 or e-mail tvaughan@tamiu.edu. University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Information about the STEER program can also be found at http://steer.uthscsa.edu/.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu