Studies have shown that direct childhood experiences in nature result in a sense of stewardship and care for the environment. This means that younger generations hold incredible power to shape the future of our natural world. By learning about environmental values during their formative years, children can form lifelong habits that protect our natural resources.
Environmental stewardship programs provide not only social and learning opportunities but also enable our youth to forge deep connections—with one another and with the environment. So, if you’re searching for ways to get young Texans involved in conservation and develop current and future environmental stewards, we’ve got you covered! Here are 10 incredible conservation organizations (from our 140+ conservation partners) that are leading the charge.
Equitable Nature Access in Austin!
Austin Youth River Watch (Austin, Tx)
Austin Youth River Watch (AYRW) is an organization whose mission is to transform and inspire youth through environmental education, community engagement, and adventure. The organization leads multi-year equitable environmental education programs for high school students (River Watch) and young adults (Austin Environmental Leaders) who have been impacted by systemic inequalities to better prepare them to create positive outcomes for themselves and the environment!
Programs include After School Programs, Summer Programs, and Field Trips & Presentations.
Connect with Austin Youth River Watch on: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Preserving Resources with Holistic Ranching!
Dixon Water Foundation (Marfa & Decatur, Tx)
Dixon Water Foundation (DFW) aims to promote healthy watersheds through sustainable land management for economic and environmental growth. This organization partners with schools and nonprofits through their School Partnership Program to educate students and future ranchers about holistic land management and watershed health. DFW hosts a variety of educational events on their ranches to serve as an outdoor classroom environment for future conservationists!
Programs include Kids on the Land, Marfa International School, PACE Project at NCTC, Prairie Protectors, and Learning Across New Dimensions.
Connect with Dixon Water Foundation on: Instagram and Facebook
Preserving Heritage and Inspiring Tomorrow!
Texas Wildlife Association (Statewide, Tx)
Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) is a membership organization whose mission is to serve Texas wildlife and its habitat, while protecting property rights, hunting heritage, and promoting conservation efforts. By educating the next generation of environmental stewards through hands-on experience, TWA promotes healthier land management and happier Texans!
Programs include Discovery Trunks, Distance Learning, Classroom Presentations, outdoor Expeditions, and Youth Hunting Programs
Empowering Youth to Preserve Nature!
Explore Austin (Austin, Tx)
Through outdoor adventure and long-term mentorship, Explore Austin supports youth from economically disadvantaged communities as they develop into confident and courageous adults. Their free, six-year program connects youth Explorers (grades 6-12) with caring adult Mentors to cultivate authentic relationships and self-discovery through teamwork and outdoor adventure. Explore Austin facilitates trust and belonging by creating a safe space to try and do hard things. As Explorers gain technical skills through backpacking, climbing, biking, and canoeing, they develop confidence, integrity, and courage to pursue their own version of success.
Playful Paths and Connected Communities!
Families in Nature (Austin, Tx)
Families in Nature – Families in Nature connects children and their families to nature and to each other through time spent learning, playing and volunteering outdoors. Through their programming, Families in Nature aims to develop ecological knowledge, promote healthy humans, and build connected communities to increase climate resilience and the capacity to adapt to and mitigate climate impacts collaboratively.
Programs include: The Ecologist School (science education program to earn badges; Spanish versions available), the Guide Development Program (training to become a certified nature guide), the Leadership Development Program, and Gear Library (loans environmental education gear).
Connect with Families in Nature on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and INaturalist
Inspire Conservation by Exploring Nature’s Classroom!
John Bunker Sands Wetland Center (Combine, Tx)
John Bunker Sands Wetland Center provides education and research opportunities focusing on water conservation, wetland systems, and wildlife management. With a mission to educate and provide research opportunities, The Wetland Center partners with regional school districts, wildlife and conservation groups, and research institutions to provide hands-on experience in a live classroom to our future environmental stewards!
Programs include the Junior Master Naturalist, Summer Science Camps including Aquatic Science Investigation and the Sustainability Summit, and working with local Scouts and a host of volunteer opportunities.
Connect with John Bunker Sands Wetland Center on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn
Shaping Stewards and Preserving Lands!
Texas Brigades (New Braunfels, Tx)
Texas Brigades’ mission to educate and empower youths with leadership skills and knowledge in wildlife, fisheries, and land stewardship to become conservation ambassadors for a sustained natural resource legacy. Through educational programming and wildlife ambassador summer camps, this interactive learning experience is joined with Texas professionals in the field to promote education and appreciation of Texas wildlife and natural resources.
Programs include: A variety of Brigade Camps, WIldlife Intensive Leadership Development (W.I.L.D.) Program, and hands-on interactive Experiences
Uniting Hands Transform Texas Lands!
Keep Texas Beautiful (Austin, Tx)
Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) is committed to improving Texas communities through volunteer programs to address litter prevention, waste management, recycling, and beautification. Through their integration with the community, KTB rallies young and adult Texans to get involved and grow into leaders to Keep Texas Beautiful!
Empowering Youth and Restoring Nature’s Flow!
The Trinity River Crew
The Trinity River Crew, a partnership between Greenspace Dallas and Trinity Park Conservancy (TPC), provides meaningful, paid conservation work experience, education, leadership skills, and professional development training to high-potential youth from historically marginalized areas along the Trinity River. By preserving the Trinity River and natural areas surrounding it, The Trinity River crew aims to provide relatively wild landscapes in our more urban areas to provide a more accessible outdoor space for gathering communities. Opportunities include volunteering and exploring the Trinity River
Connect with The Trinity River Crew on: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter
Become a Steward of the Texas Colorado River!
Colorado River Alliance (Austin, Tx)
The Colorado River Alliance is an rganization dedicated to protecting and conserving the Texas Colorado River by promoting responsible stewardship to increase awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of the river’s health. The Alliance works with local school districts to educate young future leaders through outdoor and hands-on experiences. With a focus on the history and importance of the Colorado River and Texas water sources, Texas children get a look into research and conservation techniques that they can develop for years to come!
Programs include: Field Trips, The Mobile River (a traveling water science center), and Groundwater to the Gulf (summer institute for educators that includes free curricula, resources, and continuing education credits).
Our vision is for every business and every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world. By involving our youngest generations in outdoor play and education, we can encourage Texas youth to grow into inspiring leaders for environmental stewardship. When we care about the diverse and unique landscape we call home, together, we can generate an environment that will sustain future generations of Texans for years to come!