More than 100 people gathered at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen on Dec. 1 for the official kick-off on the construction of the Environmental Education Center. The project is scheduled to begin in January 2011 with a projected Ribbon-cutting Ceremony in March of 2012.

A wide range of civic, government and youth leaders were on hand for the groundbreaking. Mayor Cortez introduced Dr. Ponce, MISD superintendent, who is playing a key role in offering McAllen students enrichment programs at Quinta Mazatlan. Dr. Ponce had the pleasure of introducing the star of the show, Dagoberto Zyas, 4th grader from Wilson Elementary School, who read the poem “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein under a 75 year young Anacua Tree.

Commissioner Jim Darling recognized the volunteer leadership by the Quinta Mazatlan Advisory Board chaired by Rick Guerra. Vice Chair, Raymond Jenkins recognized the center sponsors featuring IBC Bank, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Junior League of McAllen, Shell Exploration & Production, and the Meadows Foundation.

David Guerra, president & CEO of IBC Bank made the lead gift to initiate this million dollar plus project. Mr. Guerra states, “Since the beginning, International Bank of Commerce has been involved in making the Environmental Education Center a reality. As the initial $150,000 corporate sponsor we are pleased others followed in funding a most worthy addition to our beautiful Quinta Mazatlan. The IBC family has supported numerous wildlife and nature initiatives throughout our corporate history. However the Environmental Education Center is the centerpiece of our efforts”. Guerra continues, “It will bring joy and knowledge to the youngest members of our community and will serve as a reminder to adults the value one must place on the natural world that surrounds us always”.

Texas Parks & Wildlife has been an important City of McAllen supporter. Executive Director Carter Smith states ”Quinta Mazatlan is one of South Texas’ great natural treasures. Texas Parks and Wildlife could not be more pleased to be a partner and supporter of this project and all of the important education and outreach that will transpire at the site.”

Buildings in the United States consume 36% of our nation’s total energy. Builders continue to look for new strategies to lower energy costs for owners. This new facility is seeking LEED Certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This is a rating system by the U.S. Green Building Council to help keep design teams focused on the most important aspects of high performance design. Firms involved in the “green project” include MESA Landscaping-Dallas, Larson Pedigo Architects-Dallas, Halff & Associates-McAllen and All Pro Contractors-Edinburg.

Manager of Quinta Mazatlan, Colleen Hook concludes, “The project will help to foster more positive perceptions about the value of the natural world and engage students in eco-friendly habits. The more we know, the more we can make a difference”. Friends and corporate sponsors are invited to help Quinta Mazatlan meet the remaining exhibit and program funding goals to assist in completing the Environmental Education Center. For more information call 956-681-3370 or visit www.quintamazatlan.com.