Armand Bayou Nature Center was created as a living memorial to a Houston native who was considered an environmental visionary and champion.
With more than 2,500 acres of protected lands and 370 species of wildlife, it is the kind of preservation project Armand Yramategui dreamed of.
“The day after Armand died, he was scheduled to stand before commissioners court and lobby for the creation of a parks department to save and protect Houston’s greenspaces,” said executive director of the Armand Bayou Nature Center Tim Pylate.
Yramategui was born in Houston in 1923. His father was from Spain and his mother was from Monterrey, Mexico.
“He and his brother Hector were raised in North Houston in a Mexican-American neighborhood. They were taught to study nature. When they were ten years old their father bought them a microscope and a telescope and that started their interest in the natural world,” Pylate said.
After serving in the military, Yramategui received a degree in electrical engineering from Rice Institute, which is now Rice University.
But it was his love of nature and astronomy that led him to become a teacher at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and one of the first curators of the Burke Baker Planetarium.
“We have a few of the 800 pounds of Allende meteorites on display in the Expedition Center lab. There’s even a touch rock with inclusions older than the Earth. We would not have this collection if it weren’t for Armand,” said vice president of astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science Carolyn Sumners.
Yramategui also appeared on a popular Houston children’s television show. Pylate describing him as “the local Steve Irwin.”
He was a strong advocate and lobbyist for environmental protection.
“Armand was very instrumental in the passage of the Texas Open Beaches Act which made Texas beaches open to the public
In 1970, as he was heading out to view a comet, Yramategui was robbed and killed.
“The environmental community decided to raise money to create a memorial a living memorial to the man who had done so much to save natural space in the Houston area,” Pylate said.
The city of Pasadena was renamed Middle Bayou to Armand Bayou and in 1974, the Armand Bayou Nature Center was founded.
The center continues to honor his legacy and Hispanic heritage with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We have Latino Conservation Week, we also have Indigenous People’s Day. And we have special programs focused on training underrepresented populations to become naturalists nature interpreters helping them get jobs in conservation world. I think Armand Yramagatui would have been really proud of what we’ve done today,” Pylate said.
You can learn more about Armand Bayou Nature Center and upcoming events here. https://www.abnc.org/