New year, new staff at the S.E.E. at Camp Kappe

August 18, 2015

PLANTERSVILLE — The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston operates the beautiful Camp Kappe grounds in Plantersville, Texas. The 130 acres is a haven for weekend retreats and is the home of the School of Environmental Education (S.E.E.). 

The school serves fifth-grade students from Catholic schools in the greater gulf region of Texas. Currently, the schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Diocese of Beaumont, Diocese of Austin, Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Diocese of Brownsville benefit from this enrichment camp. The students, chaperones and teachers experience Texas wildlife and elements of the natural environment while learning about the relationship of faith and science. This experience is directed toward appreciating the truth, goodness and beauty of God’s Creation and the necessity to respect and take care of it. 

Through prayer, intellectual concepts and hands-on experiences, appreciation of the natural environment is built upon as the S.E.E. instructors guide participants in their understanding of God as Creator, the responsibility to be good stewards of the earth and how these concepts relate to upholding the dignity of human person. The impact we make on the world in which we live affects in our lives, as well as the lives of all those we share the world with. 

This not only includes those in our time and near surroundings, but also those who will come after us and who live in any area of the earth.
The instructors at the S.E.E. are passionate about imparting the Catholic faith and the knowledge of the natural world to all of the many students they will encounter throughout the year. Along with this passion, the collective experience, knowledge and prayers that are offered by the instructors are exceptional. 

Ashton Porter is the newest instructor on the S.E.E. team. She was born and raised in Kentucky and moved down to Conroe this summer. She completed her bachelor’s degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, at Eastern Kentucky University. Porter enjoys doing mission work and has recently spent time in Haiti with a mission organization. 

“In addition to knowledge, I hope to give the students who come see a love and a respect for the environment,” she said. “I’d like for the students to see the world as a gift that we have a responsibility to take care of.” As a recent convert to Catholicism, she is also excited to share the faith, as she continues to grow in it herself.

Reyna Anderson will be serving her first year at the S.E.E. starting this fall, as well. She has a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in environmental studies, with a minor in world affairs, and a master’s degree in faith and culture from the University of St. Thomas, where she focused her studies on inter-religious dialogue. Anderson has had the opportunity to travel to many countries around the world, experience many cultures and work with many different people. 

She said, “As a new environmental instructor at the S.E.E., I hope to bring the Catholic vision of social justice and stewardship to our younger generations whereby they can learn and grow in truth of who they are and what God is calling them to do. I want Camp Kappe to help foster the truth that we are ultimately responsible for our environment... Independent of how we feel and what we see, or don’t see, we must understand that we are interdependent [and] always needing the ideas and experiences of other people in order to bring about solidarity for the common good.”

Michael Richmond is another instructor at the S.E.E.. The 2015-2016 school year will be his first full year as he continues to be a valuable member of the teaching team. A proud Texas native, Richmond enjoys the outdoors and teaching students. Among his favorite hobbies are going to the beach, fishing, hunting and cooking. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Sam Houston State University, as well as an associate’s degree in engineering technology. He said he “enjoys that the S.E.E. gives a unique learning experience to children.” He is “glad to be a part of the S.E.E. team and hopes to be a cornerstone of teaching and faith within this team.” 

The S.E.E. will serve to grow the youth in their intellect, building upon their academic subject knowledge and social skills through hands-on experience while establishing an awareness of the natural environment as a gift from God that we have a responsibility to take care of. 

Shayne Rodrigues is the director of the School of Environmental Education.  He holds a double-major bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and psychology, with a minor in human nutrition from the University of Houston, and a master’s degree in education with a focus on Catholic teaching, and a graduate certificate in Catholic Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. 

Rodrigues hopes to be leader, grounded in the Catholic faith, who is dedicated to the service of others. His work will focus on enhancing the curriculum and overall experience in the programming of the School of Environmental Science at Camp Kappe. He believes that the “wonders of all we can experience through our senses and prayers, relating to nature, are integral in our growing relationship with God, our growing intellect regarding His creation, and acknowledgement of our responsibility to care for the earth and the people who inhabit it.”