By Anna-Kay Reeves, Texan by Nature Programs Intern
The grassy expanse of the Llano Estacado region stretches around my hometown of Amarillo, Texas. My family jokes that it takes a special type to make it on the dry and windy plains. That is true enough for the region’s native flora and fauna, which develop strong root systems and can survive with relatively little water. Growing up, there was no better place to see the natural beauty of the region than the Palo Duro Canyon, a 25 minute drive from town. Though I have visited the Palo Duro Canyon many times, each time I make the journey, there is a sense of awe in the moment when the seemingly endless plains disappear into the country’s second largest canyon.
When I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas, it became apparent that the drought-tolerant mesquite trees and prairie grasses that made up my image of the natural Texas landscape were a world apart from the lush and humid Hill Country. A flowing creek or small pond is still a joyous sight to me, because years in a semiarid climate prone to drought gave me a lasting appreciation for water. Clean water in the right places shared sustainably amongst the plants, animals, and people that need it, that is.
However, I didn’t always have such a clear understanding of the types of water that are worth being excited about. As an International Relations, Spanish, and English triple major, conservation was an interest I held apart from my career at first. As I learned more about how people around the world relate to each other through trade and technology, the devastating impacts of not making conservation and the environment a priority became clear.
In the history and literature I studied, I learned not only the ways human cultures connect to nature and natural resources, but also how failure to conserve natural resources and failure to consider sustainability in business models threatens the environment, human rights, and the economy. It was evident that exploitation and mismanagement of resources were at the core of many regional and global crises, from military conflicts to water shortages. These realizations expanded my view of conservation and the impacts it can have, and I wanted in on this world-saving work.
Texan by Nature is at the vanguard of the future of economic and environmental cooperation, and I am happy to join them in doing the work it takes to keep economies functional without making our world uninhabitable. Cooperation between business and conservation is awe-inspiring, because it’s what protects the natural world and the other moments of awe that come with exploring it. Putting in the work to take care of our state is what makes me Texan by Nature.