Center for Urban Ecology will foster ecological education, hands-on conservation projects

  Monday, December 18, 2023

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – DEC. 18, 2023 – UTRGV and the City of McAllen have joined forces with the McAllen school district and Texas Parks and Wildlife to create the Center for Urban Ecology (CUE), a 14-acre nature destination that will foster ecological education programs and help promote ecotourism.

In a special groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 30, the partners celebrated the pinnacle to date of a 10-year planning process that marked the formal partnership in education and conservation between the City, UTRGV, TPWD and the McAllen ISD.

The CUE is slated for completion within the next 24 months.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said this partnership is unlike anything he has seen before, and the work behind the project has been a labor of love.

“The uniqueness of this project is hard to stress. When we brought this concept to UT System, they were baffled, as they’d never seen anything like this before,” he said. “You will get to see scientists at work looking at urban ecology. It’s a remarkable thing, and it’s what happens when everyone in a community pulls together.”

Through programs at the CUE, the goal is to increase access for area students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. The CUE will feature a research lab run by UTRGV for urban ecological sciences and applications toward sustainable urban development. The lab also will promote the concept of providing hands-on workspaces and a discovery center where K-12 students, higher education students and the community all can learn about biodiversity,

The CUE also will accomplish LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements.

Val LaMantia, chair of the Quinta Mazatlán Board of Directors, said the CUE will benefit not only the Valley, but the region as a whole.

“We started talking about this a long time ago and I can’t thank everyone enough,” she said. “It’s something that is not only good for McAllen, it’s good for the Valley and it’s good for the region. And there’s just more to come.”

For more information on the CUE, visit the website here.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.