During the period of July 24-30, 2006, thousands of graduates and former students from all over the nation and world will arrive in Huntsville to honor one of the greatest educators the world has known — Professor Samuel Walker Houston.

Houston worked to develop a viable educational system for African Americans in Huntsville and Walker County. Established in 1906, the Sam Houston Industrial and Training School was the first accredited high school for African Americans. As a tribute to his work, the Texas Historical Commission has designated the original school site, locate on Highway 30-West and Williams Road in the Galilee Community, as a historic site. On July 28th at 10 a.m., the Walker County Historical Commission under the leadership of Chairman James Patton in cooperation with the Samuel Walker Houston Museum and Cultural Center will join the Texas Historical Commission in a dedication ceremony at Hill’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church — located on the south side of Highway 30 near the site. The public is invited to attend.

The Historical Marker Ceremony is one in a series of events that will take place. A Century Awards Banquet, honoring some of the first graduates of the Sam Houston Industrial and Training School (later, Sam Houston High School) will take place at the Walker County Fairground's main building from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The keynote speaker for this event will be Hyder Hope Houston, granddaughter of Professor Samuel W. Houston and his wife, Hope Harville Houston. Hope Harville Houston was a member of the first faculty at the Sam Houston Industrial and Training School. Hyder will also participate in the Historical Marker Dedication ceremony.

When you talk to Hyder you get the impression that she is a person on the move. She has dedicated her life to improving student learning, promoting quality environmental education, improving communication and access to resources, and engaging in capacity building by promoting the development of strong leaders and organizations.

Hyder Hope Houston serves as the Executive Director of Diversity in Environmental Education, Incorporated, and a regional environmental program that provides outreach and in-service training to professional and non-professional educators to advance environmental literacy within diverse communities. Prior to her current position, she served as the driving force for environmental education within the Greater Washington, D. C. Urban League, one of the 108 affiliates of the National Urban League, the second oldest civil rights and social service organizations in America. Hyder H. Houston, a 16-year veteran of the Greater Washington Urban League, was influential in establishing the Office of Environmental Education Programs and served as its Director from May 1995 until January 2002. Houston has extensive experiences in urban community organization and development. These same experiences can be applied to small and medium-sized cities in Huntsville and Walker County. Her citizen participation activities are extensive, including service on boards and committees such as the National Review Board for the Ground Water Foundation, Anacostia Environmental Science and Computer Technology Academy Board, Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center Board, Charter Member of Project WOW, Transition Education Program, George Washington University Board, and the Executive Committee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Children’s Health Summit. She has over 30 years of experience in community education, outreach, and organization and over 25 years as a workshop facilitator, presenter, lecturer and classroom skills instructor.

Hyder Houston was one of seven individuals recognized nationally as a Groundwater Hero during the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Clean Drinking Water Act in Washington, D. C. on Dec. 16, 1999. She has been a writer, contributor and editor of several environmental education organizations, including The Water Course Project WET-Montana at Montana State University. She served as a consultant to the U. S. Environmental Protection (EPA) Agency's Office of Environmental Education's Environmental Training and Partnership (EETAP) from 2002-04 to establish a Demonstration Community in Oklahoma City and work with the EETAP states program.

Additionally, she served as a member of the United States National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC) of the EPA and the Government and Policy Cluster National Committee of the U. S. Department of Education. She was influential in "helping EPA reach beyond traditional boundaries to build new relationships with representatives of non-federal interests and helped NEEAC become a vocal supporter of using environmental education as a tool to help safeguard human health and protect the environment.”

Entrepreneurial and Interdisciplinary Training

Her long and distinguished career reflects a commitment that stretches beyond her administrative capabilities. Her work with the Greater Washington Urban League, Inc.(GWUL), for example, she worked to bridge the divide in education, housing, employment and training, aging services, and environmental awareness. As Director of Environmental Programs, the GWUL sponsored an eight-week career training program entitled “Lead and Asbestos Abatement Entrepreneur Program.” The program targeted male ex-offenders ages 18-35 for a career in asbestos and lead abatement removal. Under her leadership, the Greater Washington Urban League was the sole sponsor of Project WET in the District of Columbia. An international interdisciplinary water science and education program for formal and on formal educators of students from kindergarten through 12th grade, the program provided water education training for 12,000 youth during the school year 2000-01.

Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP)

Hyder Houston, while director of environmental programs, spearheaded an Environmental Education and Training Partnership program (EETAP) that created linkages between the 115 League affiliates throughout the nation to other environmental programs to lay the groundwork for building an infrastructure to support quality environmental programs. Activities included: Conducting environmental programs within the Urban League Capital Area Council; collaborating and building partnerships within EETAP in the D. C., Maryland and Virginia area; conducting an environmental education at Regional UL assemblies as well as conducting environmental education at the annual National Urban League Conference. Hyder Hope Houston is the daughter of Samuel Walker Houston, Jr. and Hyder Johnson Houston. Born in Oklahoma, her maternal great grandfather Johnson participated in one of the “Land Runs” in what is now known as “the Sooner State.” Her paternal great grandfather was Samuel Walker Houston, Sr., founder and principal of the Sam Houston Industrial and Training School in 1906 (later, Sam Houston High School) in Huntsville, Texas. Houston's paternal great grandchildren include: Heavenly Hyder Hicks, Samuel Walker Houston III, William Howard Hicks III, and Samuel Hyder Hicks.

She graduated from Syracuse University with a major in marketing and management. A member of the North American Association for Environmental Education since 1997, Hyder continues to devote her life to promoting excellence in environmental education. She has devoted her life to community education, partnership building, resource development and networking An outstanding professional and national leader in environmental education, she continues to devote her time and efforts to bridging the divide in education, housing, employment and training, and environmental awareness. Hyder’s accomplishments and the achievements of Sam Houston High School alumni remind us that “the torch has been passed” to the next generation of educators. Their contributions to society will ensure that the legacy of Samuel Walker Houston is preserved.

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