People in Orange County seem to know what a jewel Shangri La Botanical Gardens is to the area. Now the rest of the state is starting to take notice too.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality selected Shangri La with the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the education category.
“TCEQ has been honoring Texans for 20 years who demonstrate a great impact on the environment,” said Terry Clawson, manager of media relations for TCEQ. “They introduce kids and adults to the environment to become familiar with the ecological system in Southeast Texas. TCEQ is very proud of Shangri La in going above and beyond.”
Clawson added 30,000 children and adults go through the park every year to experience the environment in a safe way they may never had experienced before. Particularly since some of the kids are socio-ecohnomically challenged.
Shangri La will be honored with the award on May 2 at a banquet in Austin. There are also nine other categories of winners of the award:
• Innovative operations/management
• Pollution prevention
• Water conservation
• Agriculture
• Civic/community
• Education
• Youth
• Individual
Additionally, a TCEQ crew was on hand Wednesday to film a documentary of Shangri La. The video should be available to view in early May atwww.teea.organd will be shown at the banquet. The crew makes videos all across the state.
“It’s a lot of fun out here. It’s gorgeous. Especially seeing all the birds that come out at night at the herony,” Clawson said.
Michael Hoke, director of Shangri La, said the Stark Foundation’s vision — who oversees Shangri La— is education as an opportunity to positively impact thousands of kids and adults in environmental education and mentoring children of all ages to be kind to their world.
Hoke gave as an example the walkway in the gardens that was made with recycled milk jugs.
As a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center strives to enrich the community by offering educational events and opportunities. Shangri La has been awarded the Texas’ highest environmental honor by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas Environmental Excellence Award. As one of only nine statewide winners, Shangri La was chosen because of its overall environmental education programming.
“This award speaks highly of the quality of environmentally-conscious events and programs that are offered to visitors of all ages at Shangri La,” Hoke said. “Programs such as the Community Trash-Off, Earth Week and Eco-Fest activities, as well as our programming for students and teacher workshops increase the awareness of environmental issues and promote our mission of mentoring children of all ages to be kind to their world.”