NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Board of Regents recognized Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, for the company’s contributions to environmental education and the advancement of research, scholarship, and student and faculty member development at SFA for nearly 50 years.
“We’re honored to recognize Luminant for going above and beyond to support our educational programs, along with students’ academic and professional development,” said Dr. Hans Williams, dean of SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. “Thanks in part to this partnership, our graduates are true leaders in their field of study and in the workplace.”
In 1971, Luminant created its environmental research program, which serves as the company’s centerpiece in its educational outreach initiatives and provides graduate students opportunities to conduct independent research on soils, groundwater, wildlife, vegetation, fisheries in power plant reservoirs and other topics critical for successful reclamation of mined land.
Luminant has provided more than $1.2 million to support environmental research, teacher workshops, scholarships and student internships, among other programs during its partnership with SFA. Of the 110 doctoral and master’s graduate studies this program has supported, Luminant has sponsored 25 completed studies by SFA forestry, biology and environmental science students.
“Luminant’s longstanding partnership with SFA exemplifies our joint commitment to pioneer new research and achieve industry-leading environmental processes,” said Kim Mireles, senior director of Luminant environmental services. “In fact, our programs with SFA have paid for themselves multiple times over, helping influence Luminant’s environmental policies, lowering operational costs, and establishing industry-wide best practices for mining, power generation and land reclamation.”
During the past 25 years, more than 1,000 SFA students have visited Luminant’s Martin Lake and Oak Hill mines during SFA forestry field station sessions where company environmental personnel provide students comprehensive overviews of conservation practices throughout the mining, reclamation and post-mine land management process.
Luminant’s connection and involvement with SFA also extends to the James I. Perkins College of Education. Luminant and Dr. Alan Sowards, professor of elementary education at SFA, created the Energy, Economics and the Environment Summer Institute, which promoted environmental science literacy among elementary and secondary teachers through a weeklong workshop. This 35-year collaborative effort provided accurate and balanced scientific information regarding the relationship between energy, economics and the environment until it concluded in 2015.
“Our programs with Luminant are some of the best examples of experiential learning,” Williams said. “When our students see the mining process firsthand, they’re developing an appreciation of how scientifically based reclamation and reforestation practices can enhance the landscape.”
Results from the environmental research program have helped Luminant create innovative reclamation practices, which have been recognized with more than 90 awards. For more than 45 years, Luminant has set the standard in reclamation of mined land, restoring more than 80,000 acres, planting more than 39 million trees, and creating or enhancing more than 6,200 acres of wetlands, ponds and stream channels.