What Makes me Texan by Nature

– Kat Hicks

I have lived in Texas all my life. Born in Plano, surrounded by all of my extended family, I was a kid from the suburbs of Dallas until about eight years old when my family decided to move to Austin for my parents work. Despite my long-time residence, I haven’t always been in touch with my Texan pride. When we’re young it is difficult to be aware of our realities and the privileges we are granted. For me, one of those was the privilege of being born and raised in Texas, by Texans.

At the Grand Canyon on my 4th Birthday

Growing up, I was constantly immersed in nature as my parents and grandparents were big campers. Every summer since 1980, my grandparents have traveled the nation up to Alaska and back. The two generations combined loved to show their children and grandchildren the beauties of nature and the wonders it held. By age ten I had been to half of the National Parks with a decorated jean jacket of Junior Ranger patches to prove it. When we couldn’t travel out of state, we would take weekend camping trips to Texas State Parks or simply play in the greenbelt behind my house that had hills and a stream to splash in. My Aunt and Uncle had some land in west Texas where my adrenaline junkie was born racing Polaris’s, riding 4-wheelers, and jumping between hay bales. As a child, all of my best memories were made outside.

Racing Polaris’ at the ranch

As I grew older and went through highschool I kept this love for the outdoors when I got my driver’s license and gained the ability to explore the outdoor corners of Austin with my best friends. Weekends were spent at Barton Springs, Zilker Park, Sandy Creek on Lake Travis, Turkey Creek Trail and much more. Time flew and before I knew it I was applying for college and having to choose my field of study. My parents, lifelong Aggies who met in college and named their first dog Dudley (Aggie’s know), wanted their last child, and last hope of having an Aggie in the family as my older siblings strayed from tradition, to go to A&M. Ultimately, against my original hopes as we must rebel against our parents’ dreams for us, I was starting at Texas A&M with my chosen major, Environmental Studies. Before I knew it I was drinking the kool aid and becoming a diehard Aggie filled with tradition and pride. I think this is where I began to get in touch with my Texas spirit as there’s nothing more Texan than Texas A&M University. From Aggie football to playing pool at The Chicken, and dare I say, listening to country music, I began to feel the love and spirit of all the Texans before me that we’re lucky to call this state home.

Me and my siblings at Duddley’s Draw in 2010 next to my dad (class of ’86) and I at my ring day in 2023

The summer before my senior year of college I was granted the opportunity of studying abroad in Costa Rica. My program was in biodiversity and sustainability among coffee farmers, and I would be gone for a month.

Visiting the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

As much as I had traveled within Texas and the United States, I had never been out of the country and for my first experience abroad, I would be going at it alone. I was nervous, but overcome with excitement and dreams of all I would see and do. The program was so helpful at affirming my passions for sustainability and conservation, but one of my biggest takeaways was how much I loved the state of Texas. I found myself listening to Jerry Jeff Walker’s London Homesick Blues every chance I could get and realizing how big the Texas sky is when I had to look straight up just to see some blue. Costa Rica was one of the most diverse and beautiful places I have ever been, but it would never beat the expansive land and sky’s of the sweet state of Texas.

Being proud of the growing economy and uniquely successful business’ of Texas as I begin to enter the workforce, while having a love for our landscapes, wildlife, and our big, beautiful sky drives the direction of my future in Texas. Pursuing work within conservation and business, to me, is a testament of the Texan within me and is what I am looking forward to doing post graduation.

Texan By Nature defines me—by birth, by spirit, and by choice. I wholeheartedly adopt and wield the Texan pride within me as I grow and navigate the world before me.