What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Kat McEachern

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  1. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Kat McEachern

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    Lady Bird Johnson once said, “The environment is where we all meet, where we all have mutual interest; it is the one thing we all share.”

    For as long as I can remember, I have found it comforting to stand in a wide-open field, whether day or night, summer or winter and gaze up at the expansive sky. When I am in the middle of a field that stretches in every direction, there is a sense of peace as I stand amongst grasses whipping in the breeze, patches of wildflowers sprinkled beside me, a hawk screeching overhead, or smell the crisp fall evening air.  In a wide open space that could make me feel minuscule and alone, I feel renewed, and connected to everything under the sun. Maybe it comes from the resilient Texas landscape I am surrounded by, or, could it simply be that the stars ARE bigger and brighter in Texas, and the skies and clouds ARE bluer and puffier? While this perception can be attributed to many powerful things, one realization is unmistakable – a quiet appreciation for the privilege to experience this great state of ours.

    As a 4th and 1st generation Texan, respect for our state was in my nature from an early age. My great-grandfather as a child, witnessed his sharecropper family’s financial devastation after awakening one morning to discover their crops destroyed by a boll weevil infestation. This experience ignited his dream of one day becoming a self-sufficient landowner. After many years of hard work, he succeeded and spent as much time as he could throughout his life, enjoying and appreciating his land. His example of determination would become a driving force in my life, encouraging me to be proactive, grab hold of opportunities, and stay committed to my goals.

    (Photo of Kat and horse by Allen Rich)

    Growing up on that same land, I experienced the freedom of exploring creek beds and woods, running through pastures, raising animals, learning about plant life, observing wildlife, and capturing insects in jars to inspect under a magnifying glass.  I spent years participating in a vast array of projects through 4-H, ranging from learning about animal husbandry to volunteering for trash pick up along the highway. Through these experiences, I learned the importance of caring for and maintaining the integrity of the land.

    My life, since then, has taken many twists and turns while pursuing a creative career. Over the past year,  I have found myself coming full circle and seeking opportunities to learn more about conservation efforts across Texas.  I am excited to begin a new journey as the marketing and media intern at Texan by Nature for the next several months and look forward to gaining valuable experience. 

    When asked “What makes me Texan by Nature,” it is the very heritage of determination, resilience, and ingenuity that runs through the spirit of every Texan both past and present.  It is realizing we have a role to play as a member of our communities working together to ensure the preservation of our heritage, both culture and land.

  2. 5 Conservation Organizations Expanding Urban Texas Parks!

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    Since the beginning, Texans have been preserving natural areas in our urban centers. For example, Texas’ first public urban park, San Pedro Springs Park in San Antonio, was officially established in 1852 and is the 2nd oldest public park in the United States!

    Research has increasingly highlighted the need to bring nature into cities for community and ecosystem health. Green infrastructure, like rain gardens, parks, and urban forests, can help achieve this goal. These natural features increase flooding resilience, improve air quality, mitigate urban heat islands, and enhance community health

    Support for green infrastructure and urban parks in Texas is continuing to grow. The Texas A&M Forest Service just received $21.75 million to expand and conserve forests in Texas’ urban areas. Texan by Nature has also highlighted growing green infrastructure efforts from communities and corporations like the Westbury Community Garden and Bluestem Park at Alliance Town Center through our Texan by Nature Certification Program. Check out five of our Conservation Partners committed to developing urban parks and implementing green infrastructure in Texas! 

    Houston Parks Board, Houston

    Since 1976, the Houston Parks Board has supported the creation of over 14,000 acres of parks and trails in Houston. Their current Bayou Greenways initiative is connecting 150 miles of trails that will bring 1.5 million Houstonians within 1.5 miles of the Bayou Greenways. Over 40% of the land maintained within the Bayou Greenways system is prairies, wetlands, and forests, and all are critical for providing ecological benefits and wildlife habitat.

    Connect with the Houston Parks Board on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

    Bike trails along a Houston bayou. Image Source: Houston Parks Board

    Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, San Antonio

    The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy supports a 330-acre sustainable natural urban park in San Antonio. The Conservancy’s conservation efforts have incorporated many green infrastructure techniques including bioswales, wetland restoration, and native landscaping into the park. In 2020, they opened the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge, which provides a secure crossing between the two sides of the park for humans and animals. Ultimately, they plan to leave 75% of the park in its natural state! 

    Connect with the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

    The Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park, which reclaims native habitat and includes a 250,000-gallon water catchment system. Image Source: Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy

    Rio Grande International Study Center, Laredo

    The Rio Grande International Study Center preserves and protects the watershed and environment of the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo. They are a key partner in the Binational River Conservation Project, which will develop 1,000 acres of park and 6.2 miles of greenway in a collaboration between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The park’s design uses green infrastructure to improve habitats for native plants and animals, mitigate flooding, and improve water quality.

    Connect with the Rio Grande International Study Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

    Design for the Binational River Conservation Project in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Image Source: Overland Partners

    The Trail Conservancy, Austin

    The Trail Conservancy protects and enhances the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail along the Colorado River in downtown Austin. The 10-mile trail and 300 acres of park receive upwards of four million visits per year! The Trail Conservancy supports ecological restoration through its multiple rain gardens, wetland restoration, and riparian management. Through one initiative, the Trail Conservancy even uses goats for an eco-friendly method of noxious and invasive plant removal on the trail. 

    Connect with The Trail Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

    The Trail Conservancy’s 2,600 square foot East Avenue Rain Garden. Image Source: The Trail Conservancy

    Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, Fort Worth

    The Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge helps preserve and protect the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The Nature Center is one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States, covering over 3,650 acres! Since 1973, the Nature Center has also maintained a bison herd, which provides ecological and educational benefits to visitors each year. The Friends own the herd and provide veterinary care for the bison and other wildlife ambassadors. In addition, the Friends support the Nature Center through major capital improvements, including a viewing deck to see the bison herd and other wildlife from a tree-top level. In 2024, the Friends will celebrate 50 years of preserving the refuge!

    Connect with the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge on Facebook and Instagram!

    American Bison. Image Credit: Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and K.P. Wilska

    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. We uplift our network of 140+ Conservation Partners like those above through providing free, exclusive resources on marketing, program management, fundraising, and more! When our Conservation Partners are empowered to amplify their impact and expand their reach, that’s one step closer to reaching our goal to engage every Texan in conservation. 

    If you’re a conservation organization and would like to join our network, get involved here.

  3. 7 Questions for a Sustainability Professional: Ginny King

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    Texan by Nature’s network of business members is essential to achieving our mission of advancing conservation, and the sustainability professionals in these organizations are important allies in connecting industry with conservation. Professionals such as Ginny King, Senior Consultant at Stantec, are transforming communities and organizations from within through raising Environmental, Social, and Government (ESG) actions. Stantec was a 2022 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in sustainable architectural design.

    How would you explain the importance of ESG strategy to someone who wasn’t familiar with it? 

    ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance. An ESG strategy, if designed and executed correctly, can support a company in reducing their environmental footprint ultimately reducing the potential for environmental liability. It can also provide financial benefits like transferring value back to shareholders. An ESG strategy enhances a company’s environmental stewardship reputation, ultimately influencing preference over another company of the same type, and preserves their social license. There are numerous natural capital approaches and nature-based solutions (NbS) that can generate a self-sustaining environmental benefit that would also generate social benefits. Take the use of a passive treatment wetland to manage stormwater for example. This wetland would increase resiliency and reduce the potential for flooding positively impacting a local community, and that increase in resiliency could also positively influence real estate values. Additional environmental benefits include sustainability of habitats, protection of biodiversity, improved water and air quality, and enhanced aesthetics. All of those achievements would fall both under the environmental and social categories, demonstrating achievement of the “E” and the “S” in ESG goals. For companies achieving those outcomes, the outcomes can be quantified and applied toward corporate goals and objectives.

    When planning environmental sustainability targets, what do you use as a guide to set these goals and commitments?

    I think one key component in establishing sustainability targets is to clearly define what sustainability means to “your company.” Second, what are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) that are feasible to achieve? If there is an environmental component for a company, determine what natural capital (air, land, water, and everything that lives in that air, land, and water) and ecosystem services the corporation’s operations require. What’s the potential impact of operations on natural capital and ecosystem services? How can projects be designed to reduce interim loss of both?  It is also important to understand the local demands of the resources that your operations require. A realistic sustainability target could be to balance the use of natural capital and impact on ecosystem services against what the local community may require to achieve no net loss (NNL). Achieving NNL could also equate to achieving sustainability. Having a quantified baseline, an understanding of corporate goals, and the resources available to execute practical and cost-effective projects is the beginning of establishing viable and achievable targets.

    What is the first step for implementing ESG strategy for a company looking to engage in environmental sustainability for the first time? 

    Look for the low-hanging fruit. What I mean by that is what could be the most practical and cost-effective solution to begin to increase environmental stewardship, positively impact local communities, and potentially achieve these goals through one project or one targeted effort?  I like the example of a passive treatment wetland to manage stormwater because when successfully designed and operated, this is a sustainable way to reduce flooding and mitigate climate change while generating additional environmental and social benefits. A passive treatment wetland can also achieve three of the UN SDGs: #13 Climate Action, #14 Life Below Water, #15 Life on Land. There are very few corporations that do not have at least one stormwater management requirement somewhere within their operational footprint, so this could be a readily achievable opportunity.

    In 2022, what was your most interesting lesson learned in your work as a sustainability professional?

    I’ll revert to the passive treatment stormwater example yet again.  When a passive treatment wetland is properly designed to manage stormwater, it is a self-sustaining nature-based solution that generates a multiplicity of benefits. “Properly defined” is in the eye of the beholder, but for me, a passive treatment wetland integrates biochar as part of the substrate to increase carbon sequestration, bind up constituents of concern and integrates appropriate vegetation. This achieves 3 of the UN SDGs right off the bat, so there are numerous benefits that can be translated to achievement of an abundance of corporate goals and objectives including but not limited to ESG, that are the result by sustainably managing a day-to-day operational requirement.

    Katy Prairie Stream Mitigation Bank Project– Stantec helped re-establish a resilient ecosystem for the Katy Prairie Stream Mitigation Bank project – the first of its kind in Texas and one of the largest in the world.

    What component of working in environmental sustainability is your favorite and why? (ie. water, wildlife, biodiversity, operational innovation, waste diversion, land, energy etc.)

    One of my favorite aspects of environmental sustainability is appropriately repurposing land. There is so much redundant property that is being underutilized which I have experienced contains hidden gems. There could be the opportunity to invest in a small amount of targeted ecosystem restoration to restore habitats and biodiversity on a redundant property, and then place that land into conservation. This allows the investment to flourish and potentially positively influence the landscape of an entire community. Oftentimes, these properties are transformed into fabulous open recreational spaces, enhancing communities, local real estate values, and quality of life. There are properties that contain poor-quality wetlands, but a small investment in the restoration of those wetlands can uplift a significant natural capital component. This improvement in ecosystem services positively influences not only biodiversity but also protects and preserves an important watershed—securing water resource quantity and quality into the future. Working with nature to enhance and protect it can be one of the greatest low-hanging fruit opportunities we have to improve global sustainability.

    From the eyes of an environmental sustainability professional, what makes a conservation project stand out? What can conservation projects do to make it easier to partner with them? 

    A good conservation project, in my opinion, is one that legitimately conserves natural capital (air, land, water, and everything that lives within those matrices) that is at risk of being severely impacted, reduced, or terminated.  A good conservation project is also one that is implemented in harmony with the local community. Taking land from an Indigenous Community, for example, to place into conservation to protect a species lacks that harmony and risks the survival of a community.  Conservation implemented in harmony with a local community has the potential to positively protect the natural capital being conserved as well as complement the local communities in proximity to the conservation project.

    What sustainability goal are you most looking forward to working on in 2023?

    Supporting the design of very targeted ecosystem restoration projects to restore coastal habitats such as mangroves and sea grasses. This project will increase resiliency by protecting both built and natural infrastructures, reducing flooding, enhancing water quality and air quality, expanding habitats and protecting biodiversity, and increasing carbon sequestration offsetting a carbon footprint somewhere else on the globe. I believe sustainability can be readily achieved when approached responsibly, practically, feasibly, and harmoniously. I look forward to seeing the multifaceted benefits come to fruition to enhance global quality of life for all including both humans and the environment.

    Texan by Nature’s 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. 

    We’re grateful to Ginny, Stantec, and the many sustainability professionals and companies who are future-proofing their businesses and our state with operational innovations and conservation investments that advance environmental sustainability in their sectors and provide successful models for the globe to follow.

    Learn more about the annual TxN 20 program, which recognizes leadership in environmental sustainability in industry, by visiting the TxN 20 website, and keep an eye out for more insight from other sustainability professionals to come.

    More about Ginny King
    Ginny has more than 30 years of global experience in strategically developing resources, resolving environmental liability, and sustaining natural capital. Her achievements include protecting biodiversity, negotiating offsets to mitigate impacts, and developing defensible resolutions for sites involving multiple contaminants in groundwater and soils for petrochemical and manufacturing sites, legacy mining sites, pipelines, and refineries. She has also provided technical leadership and regulatory advocacy during incident responses for petroleum spills and hazardous substance releases.
    She acquired her natural resource damage assessment experience both in the expertise of process and utilization of quantification methodologies. She has a deep appreciation of how natural capital underpins the quality of life, and she strategizes beyond the confines of environmental regulatory standards to obtain restoration and resolution with out-of-the-box thinking to build the bridge of balance.
    Ginny began her career in the oil fields of Texas and grew up in Colorado. She enjoys hiking, snow skiing, white water rafting, and exploring old mine sites—she’s also a classical pianist.

  4. The LEAST You Can Do for Conservation

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    Conservation concerns can often feel overwhelming. Is there anything one person can do? We asked our 140+ Conservation Partners, “If you could share a single action that any Texan could do to help your mission, what would it be?”

    These actions are designed to be realistic and attainable, so anyone can play a role in conserving Texas’ natural resources. This social media campaign is a movement to educate and raise awareness about conservation-friendly choices that benefit our people, prosperity, and natural resources.

    So, if you’re looking to be part of the solution, and contribute to a more sustainable Texas for generations to come, we invite you to explore and share these 10 Conservation Takeover Tips! After all, implementing one small change is the LEAST we can do for Conservation!

    Try Plogging!
    Tackle the presence of litter in our environment and prevent discharged chemicals and microparticles that hurt our environment when it decomposes. Plogging is a fun activity to take action against litter by jogging and picking up trash! But it’s not limited to jogging, whether you jog, hike, kayak, or just put on your active gear, grab a trash bag, and join in to beautify Texas, one bag of trash at a time!

    Conservation Takeover Tip from
    Keep Texas Beautiful
    Keep Texas Beautiful (KTP) is committed to making Texas communities better places to live, work, and play through litter prevention, waste management, recycling, and beautification.

    Remove invasive plants from your yard!
    Some plant species we use for landscaping are detrimental to Texas ecosystems. Invasive plants can spread and take over public parks, green belts, and preserves, displacing native plants. Check to see whether you have Glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum) or Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) in your yard, and remove them, and even replace them with native plants.

    Conservation Takeover Tip from A Rocha USA
    A Rocha cares for the planet through restoration and protection.

    Research your local recycling requirements!
    Recycling doesn’t work unless we do. By checking the materials that are accepted and how they need to be processed, we can help recycle properly. If your municipality requires labels to be removed from plastic, try microwaving the plastic for 10 seconds to melt the adhesive and completely remove the label! This quick tip gets single-use plastic containers actually recycled.

    Conservation Takeover Tip from Bexar Audubon Society
    This chapter of the National Audubon Society aims to promote the conservation and protection of habitats for birds, other wildlife, and people through education, research, and advocacy.

    Light Pollution is Wasted Energy
    Leaving one 100-watt outdoor light bulb on every night for a year consumes as much energy as burning 1/2 ton of coal. By using light responsibly to reduce sky glow that obscures our view of the night sky we can protect birds, bees, nocturnal animals, plants, and human health from light pollution.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from DarkSky Texas
    The Texas Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association seeks to protect the “Stars at Night” that are “big and bright …. deep in the heart of Texas.” and to help reduce light pollution throughout our state!

    Turn off non-essential lights from 11 pm-6 am during fall migration!
    This will help create a safer flight path for migrating birds as they make their way south for the winter.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from Defends of Wildlife
    Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities by promoting coexistence between humans and wildlife.

    Commit to volunteering with a conservation organization in your community!
    Conservation organizations depend on volunteers in many ways, from administrative work, to planting trees and from organizing fundraisers to picking up litter. Volunteering in conservation is fun and educational and creates a worthwhile legacy for future generations of people and wildlife.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from Exploration Green Conservancy
    The Exploration Green Conservancy is dedicated to creating, maintaining and operating the habitat restoration and recreation facilities while concurrently supporting the use of the area for stormwater detention in order to enhance water quality, provide outdoor experiences through recreation areas, and provide natural habitats!

    Use less plastic!
    By opting for reusable items like reusable straws, utensils, and shopping bags, you can reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in waterways.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
    To provide science-based solutions to Gulf of Mexico problems to ensure an ecologically and economically sustainable Gulf of Mexico.

    Add native plants to your space!
    Planting native to protect wildlife exponentially adds biodiversity to our spaces in a region where we are losing native habitats at an alarming rate
    Conservation Takeover Tip from Headwaters at the Comal
    Headwaters at the Comal maintains a historically and environmentally important site, seeking to strengthen the relationship between the community and the environment by showcasing the significance of the Comal Springs.

    Don’t plant TROPICAL milkweed for Monarch butterflies!
    Use native milkweeds like aquatic, swamp, zizotes, or butterfly milkweed. Native milkweed dies in the winter and produces new fresh foliage free of parasites to support Monarch butterflies, unlike the tropical varieties. This switch will help produce better habitats to support the Monarch butterfly.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from Houston Wilderness
    Houston Wilderness works with a variety of business, environmental and government interests to protect and promote the 10 diverse ecoregions of the 13+ county area around Greater Houston, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, including coastal prairies, forests, wetlands, and waterways.

    Ensure your trash gets disposed of properly to make a BIG impact on water quality!
    All trash that doesn’t get thrown away, recycled, or composted is bound to end up in a waterway. This has the potential to be eaten by wildlife, and as it decomposes, can release chemicals that are harmful to our water supply.
    Conservation Takeover Tip from  John Bunker Sands Wetland Center
    The Wetland Center’s mission is to educate the public and provide research opportunities in the areas of water reuse, quality and supply; wildlife conservation; and wetland systems.

    Remember that the power to bring about positive change lies within each and every one of us. By embracing these Conservation Takeover Tips and making conscious choices in our daily lives, we have the potential to transform Texas into a thriving and sustainable environment for the future!

    Let’s take part, let’s take over with #ConservationTakeover!

  5. Conservation Organizations Wild about Texas Wildlife!

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    Texas is renowned for its rich diversity of ecoregions and wildlife, ranging from coastal marshes and prairies to deserts and mountain ranges. With over 800 unique habitats, Texas is a biodiversity hotspot!

    Biodiversity supports essential ecosystem services like pollination, water purification, disease control, and nutrient cycling, which are fundamental for agriculture, clean water, and a stable climate. Ultimately, the conservation of animals is intertwined with our survival and the sustainability of the planet we share.

    Fin and Fur Films

    However, challenges persist as Texas’ population grows, with an expected population of 35 million by 2030. With more people comes more development, which inevitably impacts wildlife facing habitat loss, invasive species, and the disruption of delicate ecosystems due to human activities. The path to continued economic growth and prosperity requires continuous, intentional conservation efforts to ensure Texas’s diverse wildlife continues to thrive for future generations to appreciate and cherish. Check out some of the dedicated conservation organizations committed to Texas wildlife!  


    Every year, millions of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife species migrate through Texas, making it a crucial corridor for seasonal movements.

    Bracken Cave Preserve, Jonathan Alonzo

    1. Bat Conservation International: Bat Conservation International is a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and preservation of bats worldwide, recognizing their importance in ecosystems and human economies. Bats play a vital role in pollination and pest control, with a single bat capable of consuming thousands of insects in a single night. Texas is home to 33 species of bats!

    2. Monarch Joint Venture: The Monarch Joint Venture is a collaborative effort between various organizations, working towards the conservation of the monarch butterfly and its habitat across North America. Monarchs embark on an incredible migration journey, sometimes from as far north as Canada to their wintering grounds in Texas and Mexico. Did you know this incredible trek can take multiple generations to complete? Monarchs are known to go through four generations in their annual migration cycle! Check out MJV’s “Miles for Monarchs” initiative, where you can take action by logging the miles you walk, run, or bike to symbolically support the monarch butterflies’ epic migration and learn about conservation!

    3. Audubon Texas: Audubon Texas is a state program of the National Audubon Society, dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats in Texas through research, education, and advocacy. Texas is a critical stopover and wintering area for millions of migratory birds. Of the 615 species of birds documented in Texas, 54% of them are migratory. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is working to preserve habitat and essential clean water for native birds, check out their work here.

    Audubon Texas


    The Texas Gulf Coast is a vital habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, shorebirds, and numerous fish species, contributing to its rich ecological significance.

    Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

    4. Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network: The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network  (TMMSN) is a network of organizations and volunteers dedicated to responding to stranded marine mammals along the Texas coast, providing medical care and rehabilitation when possible. Here in Texas, our ocean waters are home to several marine mammal species, including bottlenose dolphins, manatees, and various whale species. The TMMSN plays a crucial role in the rescue and rehabilitation of these incredible mammals.

    5. Friends of RGV Reef: The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Reef is the result of a vision to build a marine ecosystem 13 miles northeast of the South Padre Island Jetties. The RGV Reef currently takes part in a carbon capture research study, exploring innovative ways to enhance marine ecosystems’ capacity to absorb and store carbon dioxide, for climate mitigation and restoration of the marine ecosystems. It provides critical habitat for various marine species, including red snapper, grouper, and mackerel, attracting divers and anglers from around the world. So far their artificial reef is 1,650 acres, the largest artificial reef off the Texas Coast!

    6. Ducks Unlimited: Ducks Unlimited focuses on the conservation and restoration of wetlands and waterfowl habitats across North America, including Texas, to ensure the sustainability of waterfowl populations. Texas serves as a crucial wintering ground for waterfowl. 98% of North America’s long-distance birds depend on the Texas coast at some point in their lifetime! 

    Fish swimming around the Rio Grande Valley Reef


    West Texas is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including desert-adapted species showcasing nature’s ability to thrive in this rugged and arid environment.

    Texas Bighorn Society

    7. Texas Bighorn Society: The Texas Bighorn Society is dedicated to restoring and preserving the desert bighorn sheep population in Texas through conservation efforts and public education. Desert bighorn sheep are well-adapted to arid environments. By obtaining moisture from their food and morning dew, they can survive for extended periods without drinking water. In the 1900s big horns were considered extinct in Texas. Today, nearly 1,500 bighorns roam seven locations in the mountains of West Texas.

    8. Texas Native Cats; Texas Native Cats is an organization focused on the conservation of native wild cats in Texas, including the ocelot and the elusive mountain lion. Fun fact: the ocelot, a small wild cat found in south Texas, has a unique coat pattern resembling that of a leopard. It is sometimes called a Texas leopard, although it is not a member of the leopard family.  Its nickname “leopardus” means “little leopard.

    9. Pheasants and Quail Forever: Pheasants and Quail Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail, and other upland wildlife, working towards habitat restoration and management in Texas and beyond. Did you know quails are considered an “indicator species?” That means their presence or absence provides valuable insights into the overall health of an ecosystem. Land management practices such as maintaining grasslands and providing suitable cover, which help quail, often lead to improvements in habitat quality for a variety of other species.

    Ocelot or Leopardus pardalis

    Throughout history, conservation efforts have played an important role in preserving and restoring local wildlife populations. Conservation success is shown in places such as the East Foundation where scientists and managers work together to address issues important to wildlife management, rangeland health, and ranch productivity, ensuring that ranching and wildlife management work together to conserve healthy rangelands.

    Audubon Texas

    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. We uplift our network of 140+ Conservation Partners by providing free, exclusive resources on marketing, program management, fundraising, and more! Together, we are rising to the challenge of natural resource conservation and getting one step closer to bringing every Texan along with us!

    If you’re a conservation organization and would like to join our network, get involved here.

  6. The Power of Youth in Environmental Stewardship!

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    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

    Connect with Texas Wildlife Association on: Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube

    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.

    Mentor recruitment opens in September 2023. Explorer recruitment opens in January 2024.

    The next Explorer program recruitment opens in early 2024.
    Connect with Explore Austin on: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and LinkedIn

    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

    PC: Families in Nature

    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

    Connect with Texas Brigades on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn

    PC: Texas Brigades

    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!

    Programs Include: Young Texan Ambassador, and a Patch Program for Scouts

    Connect with Keep Texas Beautiful on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

    PC: Trinity River Crew

    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).

    Connect with The Colorado River Alliance on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn

    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! 

  7. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Carolyn Cooper

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    My family’s Texas story begins at the Sunshine Ranch in the Panhandle, where members of my family still farm today. While I was born and raised in downtown Houston, our Texas farming roots were a regular topic of conversation at our weekly family dinners.

    My great-grandparents, grandma (on the left), and her siblings at Sunshine Ranch in the 1940s

    My first real experiences with nature were at camp in Hunt, Texas. At camp, I swam and canoed in the Guadalupe River, rode horses in the hills, and slept under the beautiful Hill Country night sky. Trips with my family, friends, and Girl Scout troop to other classic Houston-area spots like Quintana Beach, Camp Agnes Arnold, and Camp Misty Meadows firmly cemented my love of the outdoors.

    I made it almost two miles down the road when I started college at Rice University. Through my coursework in chemical engineering and anthropology, I developed an appreciation for applying engineering approaches and community-based knowledge to solve complex problems. I was lucky to meet my future husband, Dennis, on my first day at Rice. Together, we developed a love of travel and adventure. One of my favorite college trips included camping in Big Bend National Park and touring The Chinati Foundation in Marfa.

    After college, I accepted a position at an oil and gas company in Houston. At work, I enjoyed finding efficient engineering solutions and working on projects around the state. I developed such an appreciation for the diversity and beauty of Texas driving to sites in South and West Texas. Outside work, we added a rambunctious rescue Texas Heeler, Bluebell, to the family. Her never-ending energy kept us constantly outdoors and on the move. We spent many evenings walking Hermann Park and Buffalo Bayou and weekends at the beach in Galveston.

    Bluebonnets with Bluebell

    However, the more of Texas I saw the more I wanted to contribute to environmental efforts within the state. We moved to Austin, and I started an MS/PhD in Civil Engineering focusing on water quality and treatment at the University of Texas. During graduate school, I learned about water, climate change, and the environment and how science-based approaches could tackle issues in these spaces. I also married Dennis at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with Tex-Mex, margaritas, and a Tres Leches cake.

    Our wedding. Photo Credit: Leah Muse Photography

    These days you’ll find me hiking, kayaking, and eating my way through Texas. Texas is my home. I have never left for long, and I never plan to. My roots and experiences have solidified my desire to support environmental efforts here. This drive and passion to contribute is what makes me Texan by Nature.

    Kayaking at Inks Lake State Park
  8. Texan-led Water Projects Making Waves

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    When it comes to water, everyone is a stakeholder. People, businesses, cities, plants, and wildlife all depend on water for survival. Through our work with the Texas Water Action Collaborative, (TxWAC) we bring together corporate and conservation leaders, community members, and policy experts to join the dialogue for Texas’ water future.

    But It takes more than awareness and education to make waves in securing a precious natural resource like water. TxWAC matches funders to on-the-ground conservation projects that align with their priorities and benefit water quality, volume, and resilience.

    What happens when we convene the brightest minds with the strongest resources? What does successful matching of projects between business leaders and conservation look like? And what benefits do communities see from these partnerships? Below are a few success stories, where corporate investments in conservation resulted in measurable benefits for natural resources: 

    PC: Nature Rocks Pineywoods

    Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) – Ducks Unlimited: 

    In 2021, PepsiCo & Meta supported the construction of 206 new wetland acres in a WMA that will filter 200 million gallons of water annually. Wetlands are like sponges – they reduce sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous levels in water. This natural filtration system helps improve water quality for downstream water users and creates healthier habitats for wildlife. This WMA has ~5,000 visitors annually that enjoy hunting, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding, and more. Learn more.

    Port of Houston TREES (Tree & Riparian Enhancement of Ecological Services) program – Houston Wilderness: 

    Shell and the Port of Houston work together on a targeted approach to plant trees that store carbon while benefiting birds and wildlife along the busy Houston Ship Channel. In the first of many projects, over 60 employees from Shell Shipping Maritime Americas and Shell Trading and Supply (US) rolled up their sleeves and planted 250 trees along the Houston Ship Channel. Once the trees from this project mature (about ten years old), they’ll collectively sequester ~38,000 pounds of carbon per year and will absorb up to 16,000 gallons of stormwater runoff. Learn more.

    Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration – Texas Partnership for Forests and Water: 

    The Wilson Creek Riparian Restoration is a Green Futures program success story, where a $51,500 investment from Molson Coors resulted in 1,600 trees planted by 150 volunteers along 9.5 acres of Wilson Creek, an impaired stream in Collin County, TX. Numbers talk, here are the resulting benefits:

    • Water Quality & Flood Mitigation: In the first five years after project completion, the planted trees will help intercept and filter 462,894 gallons of rainfall and mitigate 82,077 gallons of runoff water.
    • Carbon Sequestration: In the first five years after project completion, the planted trees will sequester 101,513 pounds of carbon
    • Wildlife Habitat: 11 native tree species planted, that support surrounding wildlife populations
    • Heat Island Mitigation: Nearby residents will experience a cooling effect from the trees’ natural evapotranspiration process. Trees will increase shade, making the park more accessible to at-risk groups.
    PC: Texas A&M AgriLife

    More success stories from Texan-led conservation organizations include: 

    Examples of successful projects like these demonstrate the power of partnership and collaboration across multiple industries and conservation groups to achieve the common goals of all stakeholders involved. Texans secure access to clean water, businesses invest in the resources they need to operate, conservation organizations provide nature based solutions that deliver rich natural resources for future Texans.

    Investing in water is more important than ever. There are currently 45 project funding opportunities in the Texas Water Action Collaborative project portfolio, spanning 11 of Texas’ 15 river basins, including projects led by Ducks Unlimited, Houston Wilderness, and Green Futures. We will need more collaborations and partnerships to help achieve accelerate these investments and secure a prosperous, Texas sized water future.

     Learn more here and contact us at programs@texanbynature.org to get involved.

  9. How Texas Runs on Water Engages the Community around Water

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    Have you ever thought about why Texas has such an iconic shape? It’s because of water! Not one, but three of our state’s boundaries are shaped by bodies of water- the Rio Grande, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Red River. Texans have water to thank for more than just our unique shape, however. Water is at the heart of everything we love about Texas, and it’s our most valuable natural resource. We rely on water for agriculture, technology, recreation, energy, manufacturing, and much more.

    Image Credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Texas’ population is expected to increase by more than 70% between 2020 and 2070. Because of that, we can expect demand for water to increase as our existing water supply continues to decline. Fortunately, Texas has a State Water Plan that identifies thousands of water management strategies to address these water budget needs. The plan also identifies that almost 45% of all future water will need to come from conservation and reuse. For this reason, water leaders have called for a statewide water campaign to address the behavioral and cultural changes needed to achieve our growing water supply needs.

    Background on TROW

    Texas Runs on Water® (TROW) is a first-of-its-kind statewide water campaign built on Texas’ strong sense of local pride. Led by the Texas Water Foundation, TROW is working to lead Texas into a sustainable water future by inspiring all Texans to reconsider how we use water, and how we value it. TROW encourages all Texans to participate in a viral cultural movement that spurs action and conversation around water. 

    A Regional Approach

    Texas is uniquely diverse, and so are our relationships with water across the state. The TROW campaign is intentionally designed as an umbrella concept that can be localized by region, audience, or water use, with the potential to link water entities, brands, industries, cultural ambassadors, and Texan iconography to water. The state’s thriving economy, wild landscapes, and beloved Texas products and pastimes all exist because of water – denim jeans, tacos, barbecue, and even college football games all Run on Water. Texas Water Foundation hopes that through this campaign, all Texans fully internalize that everything they love about Texas is rooted in water.

    Launched in 2021, TROW was piloted in three locations, gaining millions of views in Houston, the Texas Hill Country, and the Panhandle. In the pilot phase, Texas Runs on Water partnered with Houston Public Works to manage and support a “Houston Runs on Water” campaign. The campaign included paid social media, live ads in the Houston Hobby Airport, bilingual ads in grocery stores, a Houstonia magazine partnership, radio, and additional grassroots efforts to reach the entire Houston community. The regional earned nearly 9 million impressions generating increased awareness of the Texas Runs on Water message.

    Image credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Murals as a Message

    Public art can enhance communities by fostering a sense of identity, provoking dialogue, attracting visitors and investment, and improving overall well-being. Murals can reflect the unique character of a place, instilling pride and a deeper connection among residents. Through diverse artistic expressions in public spaces, murals and other art forms challenge norms, broaden perspectives and stimulate the imagination. Public art also contributes to the economic vitality of an area by drawing tourists, supporting local businesses, and creating job opportunities. By embracing public art, communities can cultivate a vibrant, inclusive environment that celebrates creativity and enhances the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the community.

    Texas Runs on Water has partnered with like-minded conservation organizations to complete three public art installations in Amarillo, San Antonio, and Junction, that tell the unique story of each region’s relationship with water. These murals have helped TROW engage with the local communities in their pilot markets through planning, painting, and unveiling of the artwork. TROW and partners are working on expanding this program, creating unique public art pieces in additional cities all across Texas. Learn more about each completed mural below:

    Image credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Amarillo Mural 

    Where to see it: 800 S Johnson St, Amarillo, TX 79101

    What does it mean? This mural represents Amarillo’s positive connections to water- past, present, and future. On one side, it celebrates a region that bloomed because of water. A cowboy tips his hat in the clouds, a cow grazes on a a field of wheat, a windmill is off in the distance.As you move to the right side of the painting, your brought to a more future-focused image. A young girl swims in a playa laketo symbolize the importance of protecting water for future generations.

    Partners: Blank Spaces Murals, Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, City of Amarillo

    Image credit: San Antonio Water Systems

    San Antonio Mural 

    Where to see it: 1419 Roosevelt Ave, San Antonio, TX 78210

    What does it mean? This mural, titled “Yanaguana Rain Dream” pays homage to San Antonio’s water history and the area’s indigenous roots. Inspired by the rock art style found in West Texas, the piece features a depiction of the San Antonio River – known to early indigenous people as Yanaguana – and the inhabitants who relied on that water as they shaped and settled the land. Today, the river continues to shape the city. The artwork is a celebration of San Antonio’s unique ties to water. 

    Partners: Cruz Ortiz, Burnt Nopal Creative Studio, San Antonio Water System

    Junction Mural 

    Where to see it: 656 Main St, Junction, TX 76849

    What does it mean? Junction gets its name because it sits at the confluence of the North and South Llano River. These rivers are the lifeblood of Junction’s community – providing drinking water and outdoor recreation, supporting healthy wildlife and fishing, and sustaining residents’ quality of life. Created by local aspiring artists, the mural depicts the iconic Llano river and celebrates one of the town’s greatest pastimes – fishing. For community members and out-of-towners, it serves as a reminder to protect the beauty of the Hil Country. 

    Partners: Hill Country Alliance, Llano River Watershed Alliance, Junction Texas Tourism Board, Big Seed

    Going Social

    Texas Runs on Water leverages the power of social media to educate the community about the importance of water and engage their audience in the promotion of their message: everything we love about Texas runs on water. Social media trends are constantly evolving, and TROW strives to be at the forefront to engage with and reach Texans of diverse backgrounds. As social media platforms have embraced the growing popularity of original video content, TROW has been successful in engaging social media users in Texas and beyond through curated Instagram Reels and TikTok videos. 

    Giveaways and Campaigns are another popular trend on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. To further engage their audience, TROW partnered with the Texas Water Development Board to launch the My Texas Water Photo Campaign to inspire Texans to draw a connection to the water that keeps our state running. The campaign invites all Texans to share photos, reels, stories, or videos on Instagram from past or present experiences that represent their unique ties to Texas water, using the hashtag #MyTexasWater. The annual campaign launched on June 1, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2023. 

    Texas Runs on Water has also appeared in the immensely popular Texas magazine, Texas Monthly, where they emphasized the future water challenges that Texas faces, and the need for a statewide water conservation campaign to inspire change.

    Water is for ALL Texans

    Texas Runs on Water is an invitation to all Texans to take pride in the places they live, and in the water that keeps it running. In order to reach all Texans, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the unique connections that each region has with water and engage with each community on a personal and local level. Texas Runs on Water utilizes participation in community events, custom public art installations, social media engagement, and local advertisements to make the connection with local communities and inspire all Texans to reconsider how we use water, how we value it, and how we can ensure that future generations value it, too.

  10. Conservation Relationships: Energy & Natural Resource Conservation

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    In 2021, Texas accounted for 43% of the United States’ crude oil production. The same year, our state produced 26% of the country’s wind-powered energy, leading the nation for the 16th year in a row. Energy, renewable and non-renewable, is a key component of our economic ecosystem, employing over 347,000 Texans with an average annual wage of $140,000. The economic advantages produced by the energy industry in our state are undeniable. However, misconceptions surrounding the relationship between energy production and natural resource conservation have created a perception of conflict between the two– but we see opportunity.

    For Texan by Nature, energy leadership and natural resource diversity mean Texas holds the power to shape models of conservation globally. What we do here matters and how we do it impacts people, prosperity, and natural resources. It will take collaborative relationships between industry and conservation to rise to the challenge of natural resource conservation. By dispelling common misconceptions, we can foster more partnerships and encourage greater collaboration.

    “The energy industry in Texas does not collaborate with conservation organizations or communities.”

    Some of the most exciting collaborations in conservation are being catalyzed by leaders in the energy industry. Our business members often ask, “What can we do that is truly impactful?” This eagerness to invest in projects that tangibly benefit natural resources and communities has yielded transformative collaborations.

    Dark Skies in the Permian Basin

    The world-renowned McDonald Observatory is located atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes under the darkest skies in the continental United States. This area of West Texas is also known as the Permian basin, one of the most prolific oil and natural gas regions in the United States. Here, Apache Corp. worked proactively with the McDonald Observatory to develop dark skies measures for their facilities and help to promote best practices across the region. 

    Apache Corporation tank battery using the latest dark sky friendly LED lighting technology. Note the light sources themselves are shielded from view, reducing glare, while providing a well lit working area. No light shines directly into the sky. Photo: Bill Wren/McDonald Observatory.

    This collaboration helped the Observatory publish a “Recommended Lighting Practices” guide, endorsed by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA), Texas Oil & Gas Association (TxOGA), American Petroleum Institute (API), University Lands, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association(TIPRO) and Texan by Nature. A growing list of energy companies continue to adopt the observatory’s Recommended Lighting Practices including Devon Energy, Diamondback Energy, and Midstream Energy benefiting their company, the Observatory, and Texas’ natural resources. 

    While light pollution is increasing by an estimated 9.6% annually in North America, Jeff Davis County presents a very different picture. Data revealed that the skies have become nearly 3% darker on average over the last year! 

    From Lignite Mine to Service Garden

    In 2019, NRG Energy, approached Texan by Nature with a vision to give back to the community they were a part of for 40 years, in Jewett, Texas. “Beyond our standard reclamation practices, we wanted to find a way to benefit the community over the long-term,” said Chris Moser, executive vice president of operations of NRG Energy.

    Extensive research led the TxN team to recommend using the land to alleviate food insecurity rates with a service garden to positively impact 3,000 Texans. Food-insecure areas, like Leon, Limestone, and Freestone counties often have limited access to affordable, nutritious food options. This can lead to overconsumption of unhealthy foods, contributing to health issues. This is how the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden was born.

    The 10-acre garden is equipped with accessible raised beds, and a rainwater harvesting system that provides water for native pollinator plants that were incorporated into the design to provide a habitat for butterflies and other pollinators. Fruits and vegetables harvested from the garden are donated to local food pantries to distribute to the community.
    “Most of our clients are unable to regularly buy fresh fruits and vegetables, due to the cost. Thanks to the support of NRG and Texan by Nature, the garden will be a true blessing for all of us,” says Kathleen Buchanan of The Lord’s Pantry of Leon County.

    Pollinator Habitats in the Eagle Ford Shale

    The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas is one of the most productive shale plays in the United States. In a state where land is 95% privately owned, access to oil reserves in shales requires a “Rights of Way” (ROW) grant. ROW permits industry members to cross public or private land for the purpose of connecting projects like pipelines, communication towers and others. 

    What if, along the way, industry worked with private landowners to create a positive conservation impact on the land?  EOG Resources, Inc. (EOG) worked in partnership with landowners in the Eagle Ford Shale to restore native grassland and nectar-producing plants on pad sites and pipeline ROWs. As a result, over 175 acres of native habitat were planted through partnerships with over a dozen landowners. 

    The benefits of this project go beyond pollinators and grassland birds. This restoration is also socially and economically important for game species such as bobwhite quail and white-tailed deer.

    Blue Carbon Sequestration Research

    2019 Conservation Wrangler, RGV Reef has been combating reef loss since 2014 by deploying artificial reefing materials that act as graduated stepping stones of habitat for marine species. RGV Reef has positively impacted over 240,000 red snapper and other sea life, generating over $45 million in economic output. 

    Can artificial reefs capture carbon? This was the question posed by Enbridge, launching a potentially game-changing carbon sequestration study with Friends of RGV Reef and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)  to explore the possibility of reducing society’s carbon footprint with their Fueling Future’s Grant.

    “The research we are conducting here will fill important gaps in our knowledge regarding carbon sequestration in the marine environment, and will be the first of its kind in Texas,” says Richard Kline, Ph.D., professor at the UTRGV’s School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences. 

    Restoring Texas Playas

    “Playas”’ is the term used to refer to shallow wetland basins typically found in the Texas High Plains. These basins are critical recharge points for the Ogallala Aquifer, playing a key role in providing clean drinking water to Texans that call this region home. The Texas Playa Conservation Initiative (TxPCI) works to bring awareness and education about these land features to landowners and locals. 

    At Texan by Nature’s 2018 Conservation Summit, TxPCI’s work caught the attention of Pioneer Natural Resources. After looking at their maps, Pioneer found they had 28 playas on their leases and committed to restoring these playa lakes. The industry’s involvement in playa restoration doesn’t stop there, in 2023 Ørsted announced a $100K investment and partnership with Playa Lakes Joint Venture to restore and preserve 500 acres of playas operating near their wind farms in West Texas as part of TxPCI.

    Conservation is good business

    Our rich natural resources, the brilliant leaders who work to conserve them, and the visionary businesses strategizing for a sustainable future are inextricably tied to each other. It will take new collaborations and deep partnerships between energy and conservation to move the needle. Our vision is for every business, every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation around the world.

    Our state’s leadership in energy production doesn’t only power the world, it presents a unique opportunity to build collaborative models to deliver an environmentally sustainable future globally.
    We believe that by engaging diverse Texans to engage in dialogue and reducing misconceptions surrounding these necessary relationships we can inspire more people to connect with nature and find ways to participate in taking care of nature.

  11. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Sydney Gass

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    By Sydney Gass, Texan by Nature Social Media and Marketing Intern


    I was born in Baltimore, Maryland but spent most of my formative years on the Florida coast, searching for shells in the sand, spotting animals in the sea. My earliest memories in nature were the years my family spent in Turks and Caicos Islands, where my afternoons were filled with crystal blue waters and white sands. 

    After a few more moves, we landed in the greater Houston area when I was eight years old – my education and childhood continued to be formed by the wildlife that inhabited the land we lived on. Being homeschooled allowed so many moments to turn into science lessons, from catching snakes to watching deer feed, my love of wildlife was something that came naturally. 

    We spent five years in Texas when my family ended up in Vancouver, British Columbia, an incredibly beautiful city where the mountains and ocean literally meet. My teenage years brought me hiking, skiing, working as a naturalist on whale-watching boats, and spending as much time in nature as possible. I volunteered with the Canadian Wildlife Federation as a youth ambassador and at the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal rescue center, caring for injured and orphaned marine mammals. 

    I started my undergraduate education in forestry at the University of British Columbia. But, after one conservation course, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the field. I shifted degrees and received my Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management. I was able to take an interdisciplinary approach to my degree, with courses in business, economics, ecology, conservation, psychology, and visual arts. I worked with master’s students studying the impact of urban development and agriculture on the critical habitat of endangered salmon species. I also studied the human impact on black bears within various communities and worked with the government to better educate tourists.

    About halfway through my degree, my love of photography morphed with science into a minor in communications and marketing. I was enthralled with sharing the beauty of our world and the importance of protecting it by taking science-heavy materials and turning it into something tangible, exciting and inspiring. I spent the past year working with Oceana Canada on their social media team. 

    I’ve found myself back in Texas after eleven years away and I’m constantly reminded of the beauty of such unique landscapes. This spring was one of the first times I’d seen Texas wildflowers across the hill country and I couldn’t catch my breath, it was unlike anything I’d seen before. Although I’m not born and raised in this incredible state, I don’t believe I truly am “from” one particular place. The stunning topography, incredible gulf coast, diverse wildlife, and endless opportunities for conservation make me proud to be Texan by Nature. 

  12. Creating a Return on Conservation Index: Hives for Heroes

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    Texas is a leader in many areas. We lead the nation in oil and gas production, the number of farms and ranches, and the number of Fortune 500 companies. Our state also boasts the highest population of veterans, with about 1.5 million veterans calling Texas home as of 2021. Nevertheless, the transition from military service to civilian life can pose a significant challenge for many service members.

    Hives for Heroes (HfH) is a military veteran non-profit organization that promotes honey bee conservation and a healthy transition from service. The goal of Hives for Heroes is to facilitate healthy relationships with a purpose by fostering a lifetime hobby of beekeeping. In 2022, Hives for Heroes was selected to participate in Texan by Nature’s Conservation Wrangler accelerator program. Through our work with HfH, we determined that the organization would benefit from the quantification of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of the project.

    This type of reporting is helpful for conservation organizations when approaching corporate partners and potential funders. When industry partners invest in conservation, they are looking for organizations to make the business case- Why should they invest? What are the economic and environmental impacts of their investment? How does their investment align with their sustainability strategy?

    To authenticate the economic and environmental impact highlighted by the conservation index, TxN worked with third-party economic evaluation experts, EcoMetrics, ensuring values were unbiased and met current industry standards.

    Lesson Learned: Corporate Campus Case Study

    Through working with Hives for Heroes, we saw a unique opportunity to highlight the impact created through their corporate hive program. Hives for Heroes works with local beekeepers to place bee hives on corporate campuses, maintain them, and use them as educational demonstration sites for employees. The Hives for Heroes Return on Conservation Index was created as a case study example to illustrate the environmental, social, and economic impact this program has on the local community. During this partnership, our goal is to show the benefits and bring awareness to the opportunities offered in working with Hives for Heroes.

    Local Conservation for Global ESG Strategy

    According to a 2022 survey, 68% of global consumers were inclined to apply for and accept jobs from companies they considered environmentally sustainable. Of these 16,000 respondents in 10 countries, only 21% considered their current employers to be sustainable. To mitigate the risk of losing talent, companies can engage in local conservation projects like HfH’s corporate bee hive program. The multi-faceted benefits of investing in local conservation deliver more than just positive community relations. In the example of the HfH corporate apiary, 500 employees benefited from the stress relieving opportunities of dedicated outdoor space, 5 veterans that managed the hives benefitted from $100K in mental health services cost avoidance and local agriculture benefited at a value of $33K in pollination services provided by the bees.

    Engaging in local conservation embodies the essence of effective corporate ESG strategies–collaborative efforts, natural resource conservation, social responsibility and long-term sustainability. The TxN Return on Conservation (ROC) Index makes reporting these investments simple by demonstrating the global sustainable development goals the investment addresses, the high-level economic and environmental impact of the project, and the reporting standards used to achieve these metrics. This level of data-backed reporting and multi-faceted approach to environmental sustainability can be a magnet for attracting and retaining talent.

    Replication Opportunities

    Additionally, conservation organizations can learn from Hives for Heroes’ decision to scope their alignment to the UN SDG goals in a way that highlights the benefit of participating in or supporting a specific program within the organization. When businesses invest in local conservation projects, the returns are realized by both people and the planet in the form of ecosystem services, jobs created, costs avoided, education received, and more.

    If you’re interested in reviewing the Texan by Nature Return on Conservation Index for Hives for Heroes or other local conservation projects, click here.