UN SDG Report Cards: Data as a Driver, A Common Language, and A Decision Maker

By Lauren Hart

Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. UN SDG Report Cards: Data as a Driver, A Common Language, and A Decision Maker.

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    Data is the Driver.

    This is what we hear every day at Texan by Nature in talking with conservation partners, business members, staff, and close collaborators when prioritizing projects to meet their outlined goals. Data-driven decisions are vital in identifying conservation projects that return explicit positive benefits to our quality of life, economic prosperity, and the health of natural resources.

    But, where does this data come from and how can leaders committed to driving sustainable change utilize it?

    The best data comes from local sources and is delivered in a peer-reviewed, standardized format that appeals to all types of users.

    Data that quantifies the direct and ancillary benefits of conservation projects must be region and project-specific, requiring very close attention to detail and ongoing conversations with scientific experts and local stakeholders. By following this formula of consulting with trusted data sources and experts, defendable and accurate statements can be made by leaders on the positive return of investing in local, boots-on-the-ground conservation, thus pushing the needle forward in driving positive global change for our natural resources and people. With the right data, leaders can make this case utilizing the same language and methodologies commonly used for making decisions within their organizations.

    This data can be challenging to locate in a comprehensive and usable manner. To begin addressing this challenge, we worked backward by identifying the most commonly used and accepted reporting standards. Then, we narrowed in on the exact environmental and social impact measurements needed to report on these accepted standards. While this environmental and social impact data may not always be readily available, close interaction with our conservation partners made obtaining this data possible. 

    Data is the Language. 

    So, how has Texan by Nature employed this formula to communicate the multifaceted benefits of conservation projects around the state to stakeholders across all sectors? 

    We began by identifying a standardized goal framework that was followed by not only one stakeholder–but standard goals that have been decided on as priorities for our entire globe to work towards achieving peace and prosperity for people and the planet: The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 

    We mapped our 2021 Conservation Wrangler Project, Texas Longleaf Team, and all 2022 Conservation Wrangler Projects to the UN SDGs and identified industry-accepted reporting standards to report the environmental, social, and economic benefits of each of the projects. By utilizing these industry-supported standards, we began to put the multi-faceted benefits of local conservation efforts into language understood by conservation, academic, and industry professionals. 

    To identify how each project has a positive effect on people, the economy, and natural resources, combinatorial use of peer-reviewed literature, project-specific details, and local stakeholder engagement took place. Without following this formula, vital details about the positive benefits each project delivers would be incompletely illustrated.

    To quantify the full economic benefit attributable to the efforts and initiatives of each Conservation Wrangler project, we collaborated with ecosystem service valuation experts: EcoMetrics LLC. Although this was not a formal and complete EcoMetrics analysis, this economic analysis utilized their database of peer-reviewed and accepted economic values to define the monetary benefits of supporting people, prosperity, and natural resources. For example, Texas Longleaf Team (TLT) and TxN identified the multi-faceted environmental and social benefits longleaf ecosystems make towards water resources in East Texas. Through EcoMetrics LLC investigation of the water benefits made by and for longleaf pine, they identified a concatenated economic value of $1,954 per acre per year for the combined benefits that longleaf pine ecosystems make on water, how landowners can diversify their income from the benefits water produces, and thus how those benefits trickle down into benefitting our greater society. 

    Aligning each project’s impact to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the associated environmental, social, and economic benefits resulted in the creation of the TxN-led UN SDG Report Cards. 

    Data is the Decision Maker.

    Who should be utilizing these report cards and how?

    The TxN UN SDG report cards were created to spur conversation and accelerate funding mechanisms, to answer the question–”what is the quantitative impact?”, to serve as a menu of project explanations and their associated quantitative and qualitative benefits, and to inform data-based decisions on local conservation investment. 

    If you work in conservation, these report cards can be utilized to identify existing datasets and reporting standards, visualize standard methods to communicate the intricate positive benefits of local conservation, and serve as an example of the data potential stakeholders or funders may be interested in knowing about your project. 

    If you work in the academic and research space, these report cards serve as an example to illustrate highly specific and curated datasets to broad audiences. These report cards rely on your peer-reviewed publications pertaining to regionally-specific data and we aim to continue to illustrate your intricate data points in a standardized fashion. 

    If you work for a corporate entity, these report cards can help you make decisions on the best local conservation efforts to incorporate into your sustainability strategy. Through our Texan by Nature 20 program and business member relationships, we understand that every company has unique sustainability goals that pertain directly to your operations. These UN SDG Report Cards are meant to showcase the potential local conservation projects that could push your company forward in achieving your outlined sustainability goals while supporting efforts that provide a positive return locally. Additionally, the report cards articulate benefits generated by local conservation efforts that may not be a current priority in your sustainability strategy, but could be incorporated into your plans to provide a more holistic and ecosystem approach to your company’s strategy for the environment where your employees and customers work, live, and engage.

    If you are a Texan, these cards showcase the benefits of local conservation in Texas and how these efforts and initiatives affect people socioeconomically. We hope to illustrate the positive return to Texans’ mental health, properties, and wallets through this intricate analysis, and that your well-being and access to owning private lands and enjoying public green spaces is a priority. 

    Data is for Everyone.

    TxN created the
    UN SDG Report Card framework to collect and deliver complex and trusted data on the positive benefits of local conservation efforts in a standardized format. We are excited to see these report cards be used to accelerate the voice of local conservation efforts into a main component of global sustainability strategy. 

    As part of our blog series on the UN SDG Report Cards, we will begin releasing our UN SDG Report Cards for each Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler project. Please visit the UN SDG Report Card portion of our webpage to find more resources on the methodologies used in the creation of these cards and the report cards curated for each of our Conservation Wranglers. 

    We welcome all perspectives in our collaborative work to improve the whole system. We’d love for you to join us in accelerating conservation to drive sustainable change. Connect with us here. Additionally, TxN is excited to offer this as a service to future Conservation Wranglers and specific Business Member Projects. 


  2. Meta Invests in Texas Water Action Collaborative Statewide Expansion

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2023
    Karina Araujo
    Texan by Nature

    Meta Invests in Texas Water Action Collaborative Statewide Expansion
    The collaborative matches companies and funders to water conservation projects

    Austin, Texas: World Water Day 2023, Texan by Nature (TxN) announced today an investment by Meta for the statewide expansion of the Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC). This milestone is a major move for TxWAC in its mission to benefit water quality and volume in Texas. Meta’s investment is foundational in bringing funding and partners to conservation projects statewide that benefit water volume, quality, air quality, and biodiversity.

     “Collaboration, engaging with experts, and supporting established initiatives in the climate space is a pillar of our sustainability strategy,” says Stefanie Woodward, Sustainability Program Manager at Meta. “We’re excited to extend TxWAC’s mission to the rest of Texas to play a role in shaping the way partnerships take place to benefit communities and natural resources ”

    Meta has a goal to restore more water than it consumes by 2030. They invest in water restoration projects that help replenish watersheds near locations where they operate.

     Texas’ population of 30 million is expected to double by 2050, adding pressure to state water resources. The Texas State Water Plan identifies that nearly 45% of future water resources will need to come from water conservation and reuse. Collaborative action in water conservation is more important than ever.

    Meta’s investment catalyzes TxWAC’s mission adding to recent accomplishments including

    • Expansion to the Lower Trinity River in 2022 with an investment by Hess Corporation
    • Over $2 million in new water conservation investments activated since 2021
    • 400+ volunteers for a Keep Irving Beautiful cleanup event funded by Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages 

     “We’re proud to see TxWAC become the hub for accelerating investments and impact through collaborative partnerships between nonprofit, corporate, and community stakeholders,” says Joni Carswell, President and CEO at Texan by Nature. “Meta’s leadership in the expansion of TxWAC will multiply these partnerships, elevating new projects to positively impact communities across Texas.”

     Additional support of the Texas Water Action Collaborative is provided by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Hess Corporation, Arca-Continental Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, Texas Well Spring Fund, Molson Coors Beverage Company, and Tarrant Regional Water District.

    To learn more about TxWAC, click here.


    About Texan by Nature:
    Texan by Nature (TxN) unites conservation and business leaders who believe Texas’ prosperity is dependent on the conservation of its natural resources. TxN, founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, acts as an accelerator for conservation groups and a strategic partner for business. TxN supports 110+ conservation organizations and has accelerated projects and programs that have impacted 7 million-plus people, 20 million acres, and all of Texas’ 254 counties Get involved and learn more at www.texanbynature.org and follow us on Facebook @TexanbyNature, Twitter @TexanbyNature, and Instagram @texanbynature for the latest.
    About Meta:
    Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.

  3. A Conservation Guide for Texas Landowners

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    New and experienced Texas landowners alike have a variety of organizations to collaborate with and tools at their disposal to become involved in the conservation of the state’s natural resources. Whether it’s land, water, or the wide array of flora and fauna that make their home in Texas, landowners can use the aggregated resources and tools that are featured in Texan by Nature’s Landowner Guide for Conservation and Land Management to engage in meaningful conservation efforts. With roughly 95% of land in Texas privately owned (Texas Land Trends), it is essential for landowners to participate in conservation stewardship and ensure our natural resources flourish for generations of Texans to come.

    With 12 distinct eco-regions, the 172 million acres of Texas terrain offer a wide range of landscapes, from mountains in West Texas to coastal plains in East Texas. To best understand the conditions that shape your land like annual precipitation and soil type, you can reference this map to find out which ecoregion you are located in. 

     Once you have determined the ecoregion, there are a variety of land management strategies that can be used to restore and maintain the native ecosystems present on your land. Landscaping with native plants is a simple solution that provides habitat and food for native species; find which plants are native to your region here. A hands-off approach can also be an effective land management strategy to establish plant biodiversity – landowners can consider not mowing or mowing a small portion of land to allow a biodiverse range of plants to take root. A variety of plants can support a variety of animals, promoting a healthy ecosystem on your land. 

    Habitat Restoration Examples:

    To protect these native ecosystems on your land, consider implementing a Conservation Easement. A Conservation Easement is a voluntary agreement between a private landowner and a government agency, land trust, or other conservation organization, to limit or restrict certain activities on private land in perpetuity. For example, there may be restrictions on subdividing or developing your property, while ensuring your right to continue ranching, farming, hunting, and otherwise maintaining the rural lifestyle. As a landowner, you can continue to live on the land, sell it, or pass it on to future generations, but the conservation easement will remain intact. Other easement agreements may focus on timber management, energy development, or other natural resources. An easement holder, such as a land trust, ensures that the easement is maintained by periodically checking that the easement provisions are upheld. More information on conservation easements can be found here.

    Conservation Easement Resources:

    Of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States, 7 are in Texas. While this presents an opportunity for economic growth, it also presents a challenge as the demand for water in the municipal, industrial, and agricultural  sectors grows. Innovation that includes conservation, industry, landowners, and communities is a must to meet the challenge.

     According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, irrigation and livestock together use about 78% of all groundwater, and agriculture uses about 33% of all surface water used in Texas. If you’re a landowner whose land is used for agriculture, one conservation measure you can take is investing in water efficiency. Water conservation happens on a large and small scale, from fixing dripping faucets to innovations in reclaimed and recycled water. Landowners can efficiently irrigate crops and maintain soil moisture by installing low-pressure sprinklers (i.e. drip irrigation) and lining irrigation canals with pipelines to prevent leaks. Landowners and the general public can conserve water by repairing leaks and investing in water-saving technologies like low-flow toilets.

     Water Resources:

    Landowners can participate in various programs to promote and maintain plants and wildlife. Even small projects that focus on benefitting one plant or animal species can positively impact other plants and animals in the same ecosystem. These projects can also save you money through tax exemption.

    Some landowners can purchase land that is already under a tax-exempt status, or you can apply for exemptions. With an agricultural or timber exemption certificate, landowners are exempt from tax on the purchase of items that are directly used to produce agricultural and timber products being grown commercially. Agricultural exemptions can also be converted to a wildlife exemption status, which lets you keep your property taxes low by performing activities aimed at helping native Texas wildlife rather than, or alongside, traditional agriculture uses.

     In regions where the landscape evolved with naturally occurring wildfires, prescribed burns may benefit the plant and animal life on your land. Prescribed burns are controlled low-intensity fires that remove excess brush and clear space for seeds to take root. A prescribed burn should be performed only by trained professionals, such as Prescribed Burn Alliance of Texas or Texas A&M Forest Service. Read How Fire Makes a Forest to learn how the Texas Longleaf Team implements prescribed burns. Additionally, consult the NRCS Conservation Practice guide to learn about the uses and risks of prescribed burns.

     Plants and Wildlife Resources

    ​​As a Texas landowner, you can diversify your profit stream by claiming carbon credits through the conservation work you do on your land. When you claim these credits on a registry, private companies can purchase these credits from you through your registry to counterbalance their CO2 emissions from their operations. Your land can store carbon above ground as well as below ground through the root system and soil. Learn more about carbon credits and get involved in the right program for you through the resources below.
    Carbon Resources:

     As a Texas landowner, you have the opportunity to strengthen your connection to natural resources and continue the forward momentum of conservation in the Lonestar State. Being a steward of the native species and ecosystems that make their homes on privately owned land is one way to preserve Texas’ rich natural history and preserve it for the future.

    Additional Tools & Resources for Landowners:

    Visit our Landowner Guide for Conservation and Land Management for the latest and email us at info@texanbynature.org if you have additional resources to add to the guide!


    • Carbon Credits – A tradable permit that achieves measurable reductions in greenhouse emissions.
    • Conservation – The act or process of conserving. The efficient management or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water.
    • Sustainability – The process of maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.
    • Ecoregion – An area where ecosystems are similar based on climate, landscapes, plants, and animals.
    • Public-Private Partnership – In the conservation realm, this term typically refers to a government or non-profit entity such as Texas Parks and Wildlife or Texan by Nature partnering with private foundations, landowners, and/or businesses in pursuit of a conservation outcome.
    • Return on Conservation – The return realized by investing in conservation encompassing positive financial, people, and natural resource impact.
  4. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Urvi Dani

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    Where I began my life couldn’t be further from Texas….I was born in Mumbai, India.  My cousins and I spent our weekends alternately at each others’ homes, requiring little beyond loads of free time and our imaginations.  Some of my fondest memories are the weekends we spent at my aunt and uncle’s second home, a modest bungalow in the hill country a few hours outside Mumbai.  The little village consisted of red dirt roads that wound through wooded hills.  With no paved roads, all traffic was on foot or horseback, as if we had traveled back in time.  Many afternoons were consumed with spirited games of Rummy and Clue, sometimes by candlelight in the event of power shortages.  Picnics were often disrupted by opportunistic monkeys looking for a morsel and a moment of inattention.  And mosquito nets were imperative for a good night’s sleep!  It was here I learned to ride a bike, build a bonfire, and ride horses.  As they say, it was a different time then and our parents would let my cousins and I (between the ages of 5 and 9 years old) ride freely through the woods for hours on end!

    Good times with cousins (I’m on the bottom right)

    So how did I end up in Houston, Texas?  Everyone’s immigrant story is unique and mine probably simultaneously shares and contradicts some of the prevailing narratives….
    My parents grew up in Mumbai in relative comfort, enjoying the financial freedom of successful family businesses.  Both my mom and dad have the polished accent characteristic of Indians educated in the British curriculum of Indian private schools.  My dad worked in the airline industry and we were fortunate to travel frequently.  (By age five, I was so comfortable with international travel that I flew from Mumbai to Bangkok as an unaccompanied minor and loved every minute of the journey!)  We were surrounded by extended family and friends who may as well have been family.
    At age nine, when my parents decided to uproot us and move to Texas, my world turned upside down.  Those first years were tough.  Overnight, we left behind our beloved community and my parents began building our new life and stretching their savings as far as possible.  We combed garage sales for furniture and cut coupons to save a few dollars on groceries.  Even now I can’t imagine the pressures they felt.  I tried desperately to “fit in” at school, which often left me feeling lonely and homesick.  (At least the humidity wasn’t foreign to me – Mumbai is worse!)  We missed our extended family and friends desperately but despite it all, my parents went out of their way to make sure our home was filled with love and happy memories.

    It would be five years before we could afford to visit Mumbai again.  It would take many more for me to begin to comprehend my parents’ life choices (let alone explain them here).  But I grew to share their convictions and I continue to be inspired by their courage and sacrifice.
    Eventually, my dad landed on his feet and went on to have a successful career in financial planning.  He’ll tell you he never loved the job but he made it work, exceeding financial goals while maintaining a work life balance and continuously picking up hobbies (his latest is homemade bread).  My mom followed her passion and talent for early childhood education and became a preschool teacher (she still teaches part-time) and she has always been the glue of our family.
    I share all this to say, Texas and I were not a love-at-first-sight story….Those first few years of our relationship were complicated as we struggled to figure each other out.  We both had a lot to offer but we often misunderstood and underestimated each other.  But Texas is nothing if not stubbornly proud and persistent, its charms becoming harder to resist over time….From its people, I experienced kindness, loyalty, mutual respect, and diversity of every kind.  In my “backyard,” I discovered the trails at Brazos Bend State Park, the campgrounds at Lake Houston Wilderness Park, the waters of Lake Livingston, and the best hidden beaches in Galveston.  And when it comes to food, I learned the best two words ever combined: Tex Mex.

    It was shortly after my family moved to Houston, now nearly thirty years ago, that I first learned the term “environmental conservation” after buying the book “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth” from one of those Scholastic flyers distributed at school.  I still remember its promising bright yellow cover, its pages filled with information about recycling, wildlife preservation, climate change, water and air pollution, energy conservation….Conservation projects displaced my previous endeavors to master stealthy powers of observation and secret code breaking skills.  (Because the previous book I read was Harriet the Spy.)  My parents patiently indulged my enthusiasm.  (But they did draw the line at putting an empty milk gallon jug in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water consumed by each flush, fearing plumbing disasters no doubt.)

    It was in high school that I discovered the Houston Arboretum and began volunteering in the Nature Center there, helping kids discover local wildlife and nature while I wrestled with privileged decisions like to which universities to apply and what field of study to pursue.

    Houston Arboretum

    When I was admitted to my first choice of university, my parents wouldn’t hear of me going anywhere else, even though it came at a price tag I knew they had to make further sacrifices to afford.  Looking back, this factored somewhere in my decision to major in Chemical Engineering and ultimately accept a position at a major energy corporation upon graduation.  I wanted the fastest route to financial independence to make sure I’d never have to ask my parents for another cent (I now ask for babysitting services of course).

    Fun Fact: My husband, brother, and I all graduated from Rice University with the same degree.  Go Rice Owls!

    Traditional Indian wedding ceremony

    Along the way, I’ve built my own family in Texas.  My husband and I had a traditional Indian wedding at a rustic ranch venue in Richmond, Texas, a literal blend of our cultures.  We are proud parents of two wonderful daughters.  My parents and in-laws continue to live in the Houston area and compete for time with our kids.  My brother (the best no-nonsense uncle to our kids) drops in every couple days, we play in a local orchestra together, and brother/sister camping trips have become a regular tradition.

    I have always believed that true change comes from understanding, so I thought, what better way to understand how we develop natural resources than working in an industry on which any modern economy depends: energy.  Ultimately, my experience in the oil and gas industry has broadened my perspectives in the best way.  I understand now more than ever the importance of shared innovation, community partnership, and policy support to develop natural resources economically and sustainably.

    But my passion for nature and wildlife never wavered, and the underlying principle that conservation and industry goals are more aligned than not resonates deeply with my own convictions.  So it’s not surprising that my inner compass eventually led me to Texan by Nature and I was proud to join the team earlier this year. Today, I am an idealist and a realist, a dreamer and a doer.  I value myself and my relationships.  I have faith in the power of stories and human cooperation.  I believe that our goals are just as important as how we achieve them.  I believe in going big or going home.  Turns out I didn’t need to be born in Texas to be Texan by Nature.



  5. Texas Partnership for Forests & Water Success Story – Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration

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    Earth’s ecosystems and human life are inherently connected and dependent on one another. When an ecosystem is threatened so too are the ecosystem services and natural resources humans benefit from which in turn affect our well-being and our livelihood. 

    Texas Partnership for Forests and Water, 2022 Conservation Wrangler, is based around this inherent connection, and works to ensure all Texans can continue to benefit from our natural systems. The primary goal of Texas Partnership for Forests and Water is to maintain and expand healthy forests in drinking water source watersheds through strong collaboration between the forest, conservation, corporate, and water sectors. 

    The Partnership accomplishes this through the work of Texas A&M Forest Service’s Green Futures corporate sustainability partnership program- a highly collaborative, scalable program that connects corporate funding to local nonprofit organizations to address global issues and social responsibility through investment in people, communities, and trees. 



      • CLEAN WATER: Forestlands absorb rainfall, refill groundwater aquifers, slow and filter stormwater runoff, reduce floods, and maintain watershed stability and resilience.
      • CLEAN AIR: Forests and green spaces purify the air and sequester carbon.
      • WILDLIFE HABITAT: Forests provide essential habitat for a diverse mix of native plants, wildlife, and pollinators.


      • HEALTHY CITIZENS: Green spaces and forests promote recreational opportunities, improving community mental and physical health.
      • IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE: Better drainage and less erosion, benefit paved trails and improves the safety and aesthetics of green spaces. 
      • COOL CITIES: Surrounding areas will experience a cooling effect from the trees’ natural evapotranspiration process. Trees also provide increased shade, making the outdoors more accessible.
    Texas Partnership Forests Water


    The Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration project was a 9.5-acre tree planting event completed in November of 2021. In an effort to promote flood mitigation and improve water quality, the Texas A&M Forest Service, North Texas Municipal Water District, City of McKinney, McKinney Parks Foundation, and several other local stakeholders planted over 1,600 trees in the riparian areas along Wilson Creek. By establishing a forested riparian buffer on an impaired stream like Wilson Creek, the forest and trees will stabilize the eroding stream banks and filter and trap unwanted pollutants that result from urban stormwater runoff. 

    The Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration project was funded through the Molson-Coors Change the Course Partnership, which connects Molson-Coors to shovel-ready projects that restore waterways critical to drinking water resources. Through the partnership, the project received $51,000. The money was funneled through a local 501c3, the McKinney Parks Foundation (MPF) with an agreement that the volunteer organization, in collaboration with City resources, would act as local stewards after the planting through a two-year establishment period.

    Texas A&M Forest Service uses innovative techniques to project the generated ecosystem services for the newly planted trees’ carbon, watershed, and air pollution through the i-Tree Eco suite of tools. These tools provide reports to Molson-Coors to use when tracking their social responsibility goals and are able to estimate these services over the next 1, 5, 10, and 20 years. 

    Texas Partnership Forests Water


    A $51,500 investment in the Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration projects resulted in the following:

    • 150 volunteers dedicated 1,146 volunteer hours
    • 1,600 trees planted, including 11 native tree species that support surrounding wildlife populations.
    • In the first five years after project completion, the trees planted will help to intercept and filter 462,894.2 gallons of rainfall, avoid 82,077 gallons of runoff water, and sequester 101,513 pounds of carbon.

    Read the full Case Study HERE.


  6. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Savanna Rodriguez

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    By Savanna Rodriguez, Texan by Nature Intern

    For as long as I can remember happiness looked like being surrounded by family, animal companions close by, and more often than not a fishing pole (or a couple) in hand. I grew up south of San Antonio in Losoya, Texas. Growing up my parents worked hard to provide for me and my older brother. In hindsight, money probably was an issue, (I’ve been thrifting since before it was cool) but I’m sure if you asked me and my brother at the time we would have never known. All we knew was the outdoors, sneaking snakes and bugs inside to scare my mom with, my brother skinning squirrels on the porch, chasing our escaped cow down the medina riverbank, and shooting our first bb guns at cans dangling in front of the dense tree line that fenced our land, as far as we knew life was GOOD. Although I have a squirrel-loving brother, I was without a doubt my dad’s mini-me. We were always outside together tending to chickens, goats, the occasional donkey, anything I could bat my eyes for at the local flea market. My mom swears that the only punishment that worked for me at a young age was being condemned to the house with NO outside time (sounds awful even now). I owe my love for the outdoors to my dad amongst many other things, he is a man of MANY jokes. He is also a man of many envelopes. Envelopes you may be wondering about. Yes, envelopes. That’s how my dad saves his money for fun activities or important endeavors little by little in envelopes stashed in a drawer we let him believe is “secret”. We may have been thrifting our entire wardrobe, but come summer there was a beach picnic table and cooler full of sandwiches with our name on it.

    Unbeknownst to me it seems that the picnic table was always near Aransas Pass, Texas. Aransas pass is a small town located right between Rockport and Port Aransas. The locals call it saltwater heaven and we’ve got the catches to prove it. Fast forward a couple of years, my upbringing made me value experiences (and the Texas coast). So, it’s no surprise After graduating from Texas A&M – Kingsville I found myself RVing full-time in Aransas Pass. The thought of a landlocked apartment terrified me and my need for fresh air and sunshine. That longing for sunshine and fresh air, and love for fauna and flora had always drawn me toward the outdoors.

    Generations of my family could say the same. I am the family’s memory hoarder, every old box of photos that comes out of storage is coming home with me for sure. My favorite parts of old photos are seeing not only my younger self but generations of my family enjoying the same natural places I did. Another thing generations of my family enjoyed were Texas Country music. What they didn’t enjoy so much was my singing at the top of my lungs. Singing wasn’t the only thing I did loud, I sort of just tend to be loud. My dad would often tell me I was scaring the fish away growing up. As I grew up I often smothered my rather loud personality hoping to appeal more “collected”. Now I realize that my being loud is just the Texan pride within me. The spirit to share, care and do so in a BIG way. I mean everything’s bigger in Texas right personalities, fish, the number of Texas-themed tattoos my brother can fit on one arm, you name it. Texas is such a special place I find it hard to articulate how being Texan makes you feel like you’re part of something special. Steven Rinella once said I love Texas sure it’s a show-offy state but every time I do look in its direction I’m impressed if you tend to look at things from a woods, water, and wild food perspective as I do Texas Pride starts to make a lot of sense and there’s nothing wrong with pride as long as it leads to a tendency to share the source of that pride rather than hog it and bottle it up. Wanting to share that pride with past and future generations of Texans is one BIG reason that I am Texan by Nature.

  7. UN SDG Report Cards: Overcoming Industry Barriers in Conservation

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    In 2022, 97% of top executives across the world said climate change is expected to impact company strategy and operations.

    Of the same executives who said climate change would impact company strategy and operations, 24% said difficulty measuring environmental impact is a key obstacle to driving sustainability efforts, followed by 19% claiming efforts were “too costly” and finally, 18% indicating that near-term business issues take precedence. 

    Speaking the Same Language
    Our work at the intersection of business and conservation made it clear that the metrics and reporting gap could be bridged by providing simple, standard solutions to all three of these obstacles. Similar to the global survey data, every executive conversation we had indicated a willingness to address climate issues but also reporting and data barriers to decision-making and adoption. Enter the global framework developed by the United Nations (UN).

    Decades of international work by the UN led to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. These goals serve as a framework for the globe to strive for in addressing sustainable development** and climate action.

    The development of the Texan by Nature UN SDG Report Card came in part from recognizing these goals as an opportunity to bridge language gaps as well as the reporting and metrics barriers between business and conservation. Businesses, governments, and other stakeholders worldwide are looking to align their sustainability strategies to a standard framework such as the UN SDGs. With a viable, standard framework, the focus can be placed on verifiable metrics and consistent reporting. 

    Conservation organizations already possess the scientific expertise and evaluation methodologies to provide data and metrics addressing goals like good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land etc.

    Consider UN SDG Goal 13, Climate Action. Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler Texas Longleaf Team’s longleaf pine restoration has maintained, enhanced, and restored over 17,527 hectares of longleaf pine over 4 years. This boots-on-the-ground local conservation project’s impact on Climate Action equals approximately 10.9 million metric tons of carbon sequestered since their origin. Local conservation doesn’t simply address one goal. TLT’s project is multi-faceted and its impact extends into Decent Work and Economic Growth, providing local jobs and diversified income streams for landowners and even Zero Hunger impacting 1,816 native vegetation species

    Data Drives Decisions
    Despite their impactful environmental, economic, and social returns, investments in local conservation projects are often boxed out of corporate sustainability portfolios. The reality is that with limited dollars to invest in ESG* or philanthropic giving, decision-makers allocate capital to the investments with measurable impact, verifiable data, and clearly articulated returns, which are often simply current business needs.

    The Texan by Nature UN SDG report card provides measurable and verifiable data to report on a project’s impact with detailed reporting standards. It demonstrates the economic returns realized through conservation investments that may be seen as “too costly” without a return value next to them. It aligns the project to the globe’s most pressing goals for sustainable development and articulates a project’s value to a company’s broader strategy.

    Conservation organizations with limited resources most often allocate their budgets to on-the-ground projects, leaving end-of-project metrics capture and full economic analysis in the balance. But the return data is the door.

    “In addition to the sustainability side, you also want to be able to tap into the operational side of the organization, driven by revenue, profitability, and risk mitigation. If you can show business value across these aspects, and make a business case for nature-based solutions to the broader scope of the company, now you’re leveraging a greater conduit of support” 

    Edwin Pinero President of EcoMetrics, LLC at the 2021 Conservation Summit

    Texan by Nature partnered with EcoMetrics in the creation of the UN SDG report card in order to fully open the door between conservation and industry, to provide the full environmental + business case, evaluated by each UN SDG goal for a conservation initiative. This level of reporting simplifies the dialogue between conservation and industry and removes the reporting and cost barriers highlighted by corporate executives.The global threat of climate change and the worldwide effort to address this threat has evolved industry sustainability strategy from good for PR to good for the business bottom line.

    ESG and the Sustainable Development System
    Industry ESG strategies today are sophisticated and recognize what conservation organizations have long advocated: pollution, waste, resource depletion, and environmental degradation lead to economic losses and compromise future prosperity. Rather than function as separate entities working on the same targets, we believe that the UN SDG Report Card connects conservation to investors, to the public, and to the international community by comprehensively demonstrating project impact with verifiable data, showing its economic value and presenting it through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Local Conservation on a Global Scale
    Meaningful conservation is collaborative, backed by metrics, and is driven by science-based strategy put into action. With common language, metrics, and data comes less risk. With less risk come larger investments. With larger investments, local conservation and nature-based-solutions to combat global problems like climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, and sustainable development can be modeled, scaled, and replicated across the globe.

    *ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for investors and company strategy. Environmental criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including corporate policies addressing environmental issues. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. These areas are used in the same phrase, however, they are at different phases of implementation maturity

    **Sustainable Development: Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


  8. UN SDG Report Cards: Optimizing the Conservation System

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    Take a moment to consider: What will it take to accelerate conservation that drives sustainable change for our natural resources, our economy, and our health?  

    Odds are that the land, water, and air wherever you are provide a lot more than a setting for business and your daily commute. Whether it’s energy resources such as wind, sun, and oil, supply chain inputs such as water, soil, and timber, or recreational opportunities such as hiking, hunting and fishing, people’s quality of life, economic prosperity, and the health of natural resources are inextricably linked to one another. 

    So, what will it take to accelerate conservation that drives sustainable change for our natural resources, our economy, and our health? That’s the question that drives Texan by Nature in all we do. 

    Despite the fundamental importance of natural resources to economic activity, there is a dated perception that conservation and industry goals are at odds with one another. There’s a missing acknowledgment that people’s quality of life, economic prosperity, and the health of natural resources are inextricably linked to one another. All too often, conservation is looked at as a philanthropic endeavor, as opposed to a critical component of sustainable operations or industry, and is looked at as the biggest enemy as opposed to a potential major collaborator and innovator.

    So, how do we shift thinking and drive change?

    Over the last five years, Texan by Nature has held roundtables, partner meetings, and summits asking these questions. We’ve found common gaps amongst all areas of conservation and industry. We’ve witnessed these gaps in action in meetings and digital communication. From our perspective, these gaps form the barrier to sustainable change and include lack of common language, inconsistent data, standards, and reporting, and lack of collaborative, ecosystem-level thinking.

    Optimizing the System

    As an Industrial Engineer, I’ve read “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt a few times. The lessons taught in the book, which is focused on manufacturing productivity, are highly relevant to the gaps we see between conservation and industry. One of the biggest lessons from the book is to optimize the whole system, not just an individual process, and that the whole system is only as strong as the weakest link. When considering natural resources, people, and industry as fully linked, we’re better able to view the whole system, focusing on optimizing the weakest areas and driving all parties to act differently. Identifying the weakest links in the current system as common language, inconsistent data, and lack of collaboration has been the foundation of our problem-solving and progress.

    Common Language – The first gap we saw and heard was terminology based. Conservation groups might talk about impact while industry talked about return. Both would use ‘sustainability’ but mean something completely different. Breaking down these conversations and offering common definitions helped make progress in partnership conversations and mutual goal-setting.

    Consistent Data, Standards, and Reporting – The hardest part for making the business case for change has been lack of standard data, methodologies, and reporting. Over the course of three years we talked to tech providers, academia, research institutes, consulting firms, and corporate leaders – no one had a tool or offering that used consistent, standard data and methodologies to report process improvements as well as local conservation efforts in terms of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. Aligning to the highest level framework available, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) has helped drive consistency in dialogue. However, gaps remain in specificity and application.  

    Collaborative, System Level Thinking – Not surprisingly, each leader has a slightly different motivation based on their own mission, department, background. This paired with the lack of common language and inconsistency in data compounds the focus on individual entities as opposed to system level-interaction at the corporation, community, industry, and global level. We’ve found that removing the first two barriers of language and data consistency has helped drive deeper, collaborative discussion and discovery of whole system optimizing opportunities.

    So, what does this mean for Texan by Nature, our partners, our world? How do we accelerate conservation that drives sustainable change for our natural resources, our economy, and our health?  

    We optimize for the whole system by improving the weak links that our organization is uniquely positioned to improve. One way we’re doing this is the development of our UN SDG report card, a rosetta stone if you will, that articulates local conservation projects in terms of global impact based on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Standards and the Global Reporting Initiative. Our card provides a common language for conservation, community, and industry based on global standards and verifiable data. It allows leaders to plan for, review, and make decisions about the whole system, including local conservation as a critical component of global environmental sustainability strategy. In short, it helps us make the business case to accelerate conservation and impact the most important bottom line of all: our future.

    We welcome all perspectives in our collaborative work to improve the whole system. We’d love for you to join us in accelerating conservation to drive sustainable change. Connect with us here.

  9. TxN Spring Garden: What to Plant & When to Plant It

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    Nature-based New Year’s (re)Solutions

    For many, The New Year is a time to reprioritize health and wellness and establish good habits to bring into the seasons ahead. At TxN, our resolution for every New Year is to become more deeply connected with nature in our state. What goals have you set for yourself this year? 

    Growing your own garden is a wonderful resolution that supports healthy eating goals, increases your connection to the natural world, and even provides low-strain physical activity. Doctors and sociologists are increasingly aware of how spending time outside — or not getting enough time outdoors — impacts human health, giving rise to terms like “horticulture therapy” and “nature deficit disorder”. Studies link gardening to a reduction of anxiety, depression, and an overall increase in people’s satisfaction with their lives

    But you won’t reap these rewards from gardening without getting your hands dirty! Don’t let that empty plot give you gardener’s block — gardening resources from Texas A&M Agriculture Extension have all the information you need to get your garden growing and root your relationship with the natural world this New Year. 

    Texas Gardening by Region

    What region of Texas do you call home? In a state of Texas-sized proportions, there are distinct regional identities, regional traditions, and regional seasons, too! From the Northernmost tip of the Panhandle to the Southern sands of the Texas Gulf Coast, the state is divided into 5 Gardening Zones. While Texans are united by an abiding love for the land we call home, what to plant and when depends greatly on the part of the state you live in, as Spring arrives later the farther North you go. Gardening Zones are important because they provide regional guidelines for planting your favorite fruits, veggies, and flowers.  

    Spring Loaded

    The earliest recommended timeline for starting a Spring fruit and veggie garden is in the Southernmost region, Region V. In Region V, you can start planting beets between January 1st and March 1st, and you can get started with broccoli between January 1st and February 15th. 

    South Texas (Region V, IV)

    Gardening Region V, Texas’ Rio Grande Valley (RGV) region, borders Mexico to the South and West. Its major cities and towns are McAllen, Edinburg, and Weslaco, all situated in the year-round warmth of the RGV’s subtropical climate that draws moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. 

    Meanwhile in Region IV, it’s almost time to plant asparagus, which can go in the ground after January 15th. Everyone’s favorite, potatoes, can go in the ground in Region IV between January 15th and February 15th. 

    Region IV’s largest cities are Corpus Christi and Laredo — this gardening region spans the Texas Coastal to Central Plains, and is a largely subtropical climate with summers of intense heat and short, mild winters. 

    Central Texas (Region III)

    In Central Texas’ moderate Region III, the earliest starting veggie is spinach, which is planted between January 1st and February 15th. 

    This is one of the largest gardening regions in Texas, spanning Austin, Houston, the DFW, and San Antonio. That means this guidance applies to a lot of y’all! This region is made up of mixed subtropical and continental climates; continental climates are drier than subtropical climates and are marked by a greater range in temperature variation.

    West & North Texas (Region I, II)

    Gardeners will need a bit more patience in Regions I and II, where the weather stays cold overnight and late into the Spring. In Region II, you can start winter squash between April 1st and 25th and carrots between February 15th and March 10th. Region II spans the length of Texas from East to West and includes the cities of Lubbock, El Paso, and Wichita Falls. This region has a cool semi-arid climate, getting considerably less rainfall than Central Texas. 

    Last and coldest, but not least, Region I can hit snooze on winter hibernation a bit longer.  Roots like radishes start in the High Plains of Region I between March and April 1st and cantaloupe between May and June 1st. 

    This far North region has a temperate semi-arid climate, notable for its high winds and more intense Winter weather than the rest of Texas.

    Check out the full planting time recommendations from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. 

    For Pollinators

    Wherever you are in Texas, you can make your home a haven for pollinators by planting flowering native plants. 

    In the Panhandle’s Region I, you’ll want to wait until late April or early May to put flowers in the ground. Otherwise, overnight frosts might nip them in the bud. A hearty flower for the dry and windy Panhandle is the Maximillian Sunflower. 

    Region II should also wait until late March or early April to plant flowers such as the perennial Wooly Butterfly Bush, and later if overnight frost persists. 

    Region III is known for its wildflowers such as the iconic Texas Bluebonnet. While these flowers bloom from late March, Bluebonnet seeds should be planted no later than mid-November for best results

    In Regions IV and V, flowering plants like Milkweed and Texas Lantana are usually safe to be planted in early Spring from around mid-March to early April. 

    Tips from a Master Gardener

    With all that food (and flowers) for thought, it never hurts to ask an expert for advice. Head Gardener at the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden, Debbie Glaze, shared her top three gardening recommendations to get you growing strong. Debbie is a certified Master Gardener through the Texas Master Naturalist Program. Her supervision and green thumb provide hundreds of pounds of fresh produce annually to food banks in the counties surrounding Donie, Texas. Once the garden reaches full capacity, it will produce 10,000 pounds of fresh produce every year!

    Debbie’s advice for gardeners across Texas is:

    •  Choose fruit and vegetable varieties recommended for your region

    Set yourself up for success by choosing fruits, veggies, and flowers that do well in your region. For example, it is not recommended to grow asparagus in Region V. 

    • Have an irrigation plan

    After taking factors like average rainfall and the slope of the ground in your area, decide whether an automatic watering system, hand watering, or a drip irrigation is best to keep soil evenly moist.

    • Build healthy soil 

    Layer up your soil instead of digging down, which destroys soil life. In addition, you can keep your soil healthy by adding in organic matter like nutrient-filled food scraps from your kitchen.

    You can find more tips for planning a successful and sustainable garden with Earth-Kind Landscaping advice. Feeling inspired? We’d love to see how you connect with nature through gardening this Spring — tag us on social media or email us your garden pictures at programs@texanbynature.org .

  10. TxN 20 Highlights — Construction and Manufacturing

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    2022 TxN 20: Texan-led leadership in conservation for a sustainable future in Construction and Manufacturing.

    The Texan by Nature team is excited to present the fourth annual list of Texan by Nature 20 (TxN 20) Honorees. TxN 20 recognizes outstanding work in conservation and sustainability from Texas-based businesses.

    It’s an opportunity to showcase innovation, commitment to conservation, and best practices from the industries keep Texas running: Agriculture, Architecture, Financial Services, Food, Beverage, & Grocery,Technology, Energy, Healthcare, Municipal Services, Retail, Transportation, and Construction & Manufacturing. 

    Meet the 2022 TxN 20  Honorees leading sustainability in Construction and Manufacturing: CEMEX and HOLT CAT.

    $13 billion invested in environmental impact abatement — 2022 Honoree CEMEX

    Who is CEMEX?

    Four-time TxN20 honoree CEMEX creates sustainable value by providing industry-leading products and solutions to satisfy the construction needs of customers around the world. CEMEX strives to make the future better for customers, shareholders, and communities by becoming the world’s most efficient and innovative building materials company.

    How are they setting the standard?

    CEMEX employees logged more than 200 hours volunteering at over 30 external community events, and safely hosted two large in-person events at the facility. The company has given $90,000+ in community donations and sponsorships. CEMEX has also invested $13 billion in high-quality abatement techniques, including projects to measure air emission reduction. CEMEX reduced the use of local water sources by 90% compared to water consumption before implementing CEMEX’s water recycling system, resulting in 1 billion gallons of water recycled annually. The state-of-the-art water recycling system was designed to recycle 12,000 gallons of water per minute

    Saved over 5 million gallons of water by updating equipment – 2022 Honoree HOLT CAT

    Who is HOLT CAT?

    HOLT CAT is the authorized Caterpillar® heavy equipment and engine dealer for 118 counties in South, Central, North and East Texas. Established in 1933, HOLT sells, services and rents Cat equipment, engines, generators and trucks for construction, mining, industrial, petroleum and agricultural applications.

    How are they setting the standard?

    Holt Cat invests in environmental sustainability through its employees: 1 Environmental Specialist, 2 full time Land Managers & a Facility Management team of 19. Peter Holt, CEO of HOLT CAT, is committed to wildlife conservation efforts through his role on the Executive Committee of the Texas Wildlife Association. Corrina Holt Richter, President, serves on the Board for the Brackenridge Park Conservancy. Holt Cat has also installed solar arrays at 11 locations, totaling 1515 kW of energy. These systems collectively produce approximately 2+ million kWh of electricity annually.  This production equates to an offset of 1417 metric tons of CO2, 305 gasoline-powered vehicles in a year, 3,518,191 miles driven, 159,487 gallons of gasoline, 276 homes’ electricity consumed, and 3281 barrels of oil consumed. 


    In terms of natural resources, Holt Cat manages 55,000 acres of open wildlife preserve including a 0.5 acre butterfly garden in San Antonio headquarters campus. In all, Holt manages over 55,000 acres of open wildlife preserve areas. HOLT constructed new equipment wash racks in Pflugerville, Weslaco and Fort Worth to complement existing updated wash racks in San Antonio and Edinburg. These wash racks recycle water to eliminate the need to utilize fresh water each time they are used. These reduce the water utilized at these locations by approximately 5,038,848 gallons annually

    Why Forward Thinking Leaders in Construction and Manufacturing Matter

    According to the EPA, 30% of all US carbon emissions come from the upkeep of buildings. Considering the impact of the spaces and places we live, as we build a world to accommodate our growing population it’s important to choose sustainable solutions at every step.  Green construction, construction and manufacturing that incorporates high energy-efficiency, minimizes waste, and mitigates its environmental impact, creates billions of dollars worth of jobs in the US while protecting natural resources. With this year’s honorees building the future,  it looks brighter than ever.

    How TxN20 Honorees Are Selected Each Year

    To select the 2022 TxN 20 Honorees, the TxN Team evaluated submissions and conducted independent research across 2,000+ of Texas’ publicly traded and private companies in 12 key industry sectors. 

    All companies were evaluated on a 17-point scoring system, from which the top 60 highest-scoring companies moved on to the final round of TxN 20. A selection committee of top industry leaders and experts was then formed to evaluate the top 60 companies and select the final 20 businesses recognized as TxN 20 Honorees.

    Honorable Mentions: Standouts in Sustainability

    In addition to this year’s TxN 20 honorees, here are three industry standouts for best practices in conservation and sustainability coming from companies across the agriculture industry.

    Industry Innovator: KBR 

    Zero Harm is KBR’s Environmental, Social, and Governance philosophy. It is based on ten pillars, five of which are directly related to environmental sustainability. The spirit of Zero Harm is ingrained into the culture of KBR and highlights their commitment to sustainability. With Zero Harm in mind, KBR implemented their Global Environmental Policy in October 2021 to act as a guide for all KBR operations. The policy clearly states their focuses for the future and plans regarding sustainability moving forward including altering their travel to reduce emissions and prioritizing partnerships with other environmentally conscious companies.

    Industry Innovator: Quanta Services

    Quanta Services focuses on the planet by implementing various environmental initiatives. Currently, Quanta Services is building infrastructure that facilitates 5g and electric vehicles to move towards a carbon neutral future. The company also provides various case studies on their sustainable projects making them a leader in the construction and manufacturing industry.

    Industry Innovator: Vulcan Materials

    Vulcan Materials Company has prioritized sustainability by focusing on their energy intake and amplifying their commitment to conservation. They partnered with Live Oak Wind Facility in San Angelo, TX in June 2021 and have been receiving wind energy for over one year now. Additionally, Vulcan has been recognized by The Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC’s) Corporate Wildlife Habitat Certification and International Accreditation Program 44 times for their restoration and wildlife enhancement of quarries. Most recently, Vulcan partnered with the City of Atlanta to transform a quarry into a reservoir for emergency water use. This reservoir holds more than 2 billion gallons of water, ten times more than the city’s previous backup water reserve!

    Get Involved:

    Is your company at the forefront of sustainability in Texas? Share your work with Texan by Nature by submitting Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) data that showcases how your company benefits people, prosperity, and natural resources to programs@texanbynature.org.

    To be considered for the official TxN 20 list, companies must:

    • Have operations and employees based in Texas;
    • Share a demonstrated commitment to conservation & sustainability;
    • Showcase tangible efforts, impact, and data in conservation;
    • NOT be a conservation-based nonprofit (501c3).