As a municipally owned utility, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) is committed to being an integral part of the community. BPUB seeks to be an integral part of the fabric of the city, staying involved in local activities and supporting community events. One of the things on which BPUB places a premium is education. This is reflected in many of the activities that it participates.
Knowledge about the city’s resacas is essential to their continued survival. That is why there have been so many outreach efforts done regarding the Resaca Restoration Project. Luckily, BPUB is far from alone in that pursuit, working closely with community partners Gladys Porter Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Brownsville. Through the zoo, BPUB established its Jr. Resaca Explorers program. Using the zoo as a base, BPUB came up with an activity program that allows students to visit the zoo with a focus on resacas. The activities shine a light on the resacas as well as the zoo, making learning easy and fun. Close collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Brownsville resulted in a permanent outdoor exhibit dedicated to the Resaca Restoration Project. While the zoo program focuses more on the wildlife within the resacas, the museum exhibit looks more at the resaca themselves and how BPUB cleans them. The two programs together provide two different looks at the resacas, each one necessary to get the full picture of why they are important.
In addition to the Resaca Restoration Project, BPUB crews are very involved in Brownsville schools. BPUB participates in many different Careers on Wheels events, Career Days and presentations. This allows BPUB to show many different roles that are necessary to operate a major utility. One thing that is frequently stressed at these events is the importance of electrical safety. This is often done through the use of our unofficial mascot, Leo the Lineman. Leo along with his activity book shows children want to watch out for and how to be safe.
BPUB’s latest venture, done through United Way of Southern Cameron County, is a new program called Vello. Vello targets third grade students who need a little help to catch up with grade level standards. Falling behind at this age makes it increasingly difficult to ever catch up to peers; that’s why it’s so critical to provide these students with additional assistance.
There is a team of BPUB volunteers who participate in Vello and are assigned students. These volunteers take some time out of their work days to engage with these students and read with them for 30 minutes once a week. Using the intuitive online interface, volunteers never have to leave the office and can read along with the students and guide them should there be any tricky words. Vello allows these volunteers to feel like they are having a direct impact on these children’s lives – all while never having to leave the comfort of their desks.
BPUB is already looking at ways to continue its contributions to Vello next year and look forward to building on the success of this year.