What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Eros Baua

I was born in the little town of Iloilo City, Philippines, but raised entirely Texan. I came to the States when I was 6 months old. However, my time here in Texas has taught me to trust and value the meaning of never forgetting where you came from. With all the lessons I have learned, there’s something really special about the Lone Star State: What makes a Texan a Texan? An enormously loud sense of heart and pride for Texas. It’s beautiful. 

When I first got here, we lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for about 2-3 years. One thing did remain the same since moving. The ocean. There’s something healing about the ocean, as they say. I grew up with a community of Filipinos, tons of trips to McDonald’s, and especially, the Texas State Aquarium. 

Soon after, there were more opportunities elsewhere, so off to Richmond, Texas we went. I lived a nice suburban life where, if you drove 30 minutes away, was the Museum District of Downtown Houston. That was where most of my childhood memories reside. The gorgeous fountain and greenery of Hermann Park, the Downtown Aquarium, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and most importantly: the Houston Zoo… but we’ll get back to that later. 

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work with animals. Originally, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I volunteered at Citizens for Animal Protection and ended up becoming a foster parent as well. Fun fact: I did all of this in high school where I balanced fostering, choir, musical theater, colorguard, and my job as a veterinary receptionist.

During this time, every summer I volunteered a good 3-5 weeks as a Naturalist and Camp Mentor through the Zoo Crew Program at the Houston Zoo. I learned so much about different endangered species, conservation efforts, working alongside conservation partners, and how to provide a sense of urgency for the zoo guests to also take action. So I changed my career pathway.

Currently, I study Wildlife Biology with a double minor in Nature and Heritage Tourism and Sustainability Studies at Texas State University. Here in San Marcos, I’m constantly finding ways to be proactive. I worked for the city as a Kennel Technician, interned in the Conservation Crew through the San Marcos Parks and Recs Department, and volunteered for some graduate students for fieldwork experience where I eventually worked as a Lab Technician working with macroinvertebrates and freshwater mussels.

Where I stand now… along with being an intern at Texan by Nature, I’m the Secretary for the Wildlife Society at Texas State (fingers crossed for my presidency), I just joined a grassland and wetland plant ecology lab where I soon hope to conduct my own undergrad research project. I’ve committed two years so far with The Meadows Center driving glass bottom boats, leading field trips, and taking care of the native and endangered species in the Discovery Hall.

Shot by: Niles Davis

Most importantly, I advise students to take the chance to study abroad. I went to Costa Rica where I studied Tropical Ecology and Conservation Biology.

This was probably the most life-changing trip I have ever gone on. This place felt like home, there was wildlife, there was the beautiful, healing ocean, and there was opportunity.I was at the right place at the right time. This ultimately led me to my chosen career pathway: International Tropical Ecology and Conservation Education. It also inspired me to inspire and motivate others to go abroad, learn, and get involved.

So I strive to continue studying abroad with Texas State in South Africa and Ireland and continue my education and research internationally as well. With everything I learned in Texas and this position, I strive to create an organization that connects students with the opportunity to go abroad and encourages networking with organizations, just as my opportunities did to me. I hope to create a stepping stone to start creating more conservation leaders, wildlife warriors, and environmental stewards.

With the knowledge I have learned and gained and the wisdom I have yet to learn, I strive to keep my goals for the future’s sake of conservation. No matter how many miles away I may be, I will always be grateful for my roots. To reminisce about the memories, the people, the wildlife, the coasts, the rivers, why the stars at night are big and bright, and what makes me so proud to define myself as Texan by Nature.