Texan by Nature 20 — Architecture, Design, and Development Highlights

Tag Archive: conservation

  1. TxN 20 Industry Highlights — Architecture, Design, and Development

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    2022 TxN 20: Texan leadership in conservation for a sustainable future in Architecture.

    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 that keep Texas running: Agriculture, Architecture, Financial Services, Food, Beverage, & Grocery, Technology, Energy, Healthcare, Municipal Services, Retail, Transportation, and Construction & Manufacturing. 

    Turning their pledge into action, this company has diverted 100.73 Metric Tons of CO2 through carbon offsets purchases – 2022 Honoree: Overland Partners

    Who is Overland Partners?

    Overland Partners is a San Antonio-based architecture and urban design company setting the standard in infusing stewardship into architectural practice.

    Overland Partners implements a rigorous sustainability review process, reevaluating their goals and commitments every three years with 100% of their employees committed to carbon emission reduction. Their pledge to the American Institute of Architecture’s 2030 commitment means they have reported emissions data annually since 2014.

    From this commitment comes action. Overland Partners’ PV panels reduce the amount of electricity generated from fossil fuels. Through the purchase of annual carbon offsets for its operations, Overland Partners offset 100.73 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in 2021. These offsets translate to the carbon offset from roughly 600 mature trees. The work doesn’t stop there. Overland Partners’ in-house composting program amounts to 5,475 gallons of waste (454 pounds of methane) diverted from landfills each year.


    A Global Design Powerhouse Saving 21 Billion Gallons of Water — 2022 Honoree
    Stantec

    Who is Stantec?

    Stantec is an international engineering, architecture, and design consulting firm that serves a wide range of projects and communities. Experts in innovation, Stantec worked with a top technology company to help improve water conservation and prevent pollution across its supply chain, supporting everything from engineering to capacity building. 

    Stantec’s conservation efforts start at the source, investing $4.4 million to support communities, granting $830,000 in STEM scholarships for underrepresented and BIPOC communities, and providing more than $610,000 in STEM grants. During the annual Stantec in the Community Week (SITC) Stantec employees engage in conservation and volunteering efforts for the communities they serve. In 2021, 2946 employees donated time to 341+ community organizations.

    Why Forward-Thinking Leaders in Architecture, Design, and Development Matter

    Reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, minimizing waste, and creating efficient, healthy, and productive environments are key to building a sustainable future. By making environmentally conscious design decisions at every phase of a project, architects and designers are reducing the negative impacts and carbon footprint of our environment. Smart, forward-thinking designs ensure a future tradeoff of less carbon emissions, less energy consumed, and more water conserved throughout a building’s life cycle. These decisions, combined with community efforts and investments in conservation are driving Texas to a more sustainable future.

    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 architecture, design, and development industry.

    Industry Innovator: Dewberry

    • Since 2014, Dewberry has reported annual sustainability data for the American Institute of Architecture 2030 Commitment. 94.3% of their projects have met the 25% lighting density reduction target.
    • Dewberry’s Engineering Innovation Building demonstrates a commitment to sustainable design, with a large native grass space and a high-efficiency mechanical system providing a 30% indoor water use reduction and saving 6,795,990 gallons of water thus far.

    Industry Innovator: Jacobs

    • Jacobs has overseen large global projects, such as the Pensacola East Bay Oyster Habitat Restoration Project, which, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, placed 33 oyster reefs along the Santa Rosa shoreline and has expanded to the continent’s largest reef reconstruction project.
    • Focusing on the future, Jacobs’ Butterfly Effect program is a new Climate Response Education Initiative teaching young students to learn about sustainability and making positive impacts on climate change.

    Industry Innovator: Gensler

    • With over 188 million square feet of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered and 110 million square feet of LEED-certified building projects, Gensler has been able to divert 150 million tons of waste and save 1.2 billion gallons of water annually. 
    • Within a decade, Gensler has committed to eliminating all future net emissions.

    Get Involved:

    Is your company at the forefront of conservation and environmental sustainability in Texas? Do you want to be recognized for your efforts? Contact Texan by Nature at 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).
  2. TxN 20 Industry Highlights — Agriculture

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    2022 TxN 20: Texan-led leadership in conservation for a sustainable future in Agriculture.

    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 that 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 agriculture, Darling Ingredients, and Sanderson Farms.

    Nearly $10 million invested in energy and water efficiency improvements last year — 2022 TxN 20 Honoree Darling Ingredients

    Who is Darling Ingredients?

    Darling Ingredients is the largest publicly traded company turning edible by-products and food waste into sustainable products and is a leading producer of renewable energy.

    How does Darling Ingredients set the standard?

    Darling Ingredients invested nearly $10 million in water and energy efficiency in 2021. Their most substantial sustainable energy investment has been with Diamond Green Diesel, a renewable diesel that reduces emissions up to 85% compared to traditional diesel. Diamond Green Diesel is produced in partnership with Valero Energy Corporation, also headquartered in Texas. All of Darling Ingredients’ plants engage in primary water reduction practices limiting the demand for freshwater supplies across Darling operations resulting in 11 billion gallons of water returned to the environment per year. Darling Ingredients’ employees organized a recycling drive, collecting over 6,000 units of solid waste. In November of 2020, that same team planted 234 trees in the Mosquito River Basin region where their facility is located. 

    226,466 kWh of electricity saved in the calendar year 2021- 2022 — 2022 TxN 20 Honoree: Sanderson Farms

    Who is Sanderson Farms?

    Sanderson Farms is a Fortune 1000 company engaged in the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken and other prepared food items. Through efforts in conservation, recyclability, renewable energy, and fuel efficiency, Sanderson Farms demonstrates they are dedicated to producing quality, affordable chicken that is not only good for our customers but also good for the environment.

    How does Sanderson Farms set the standard?

    The company has 58 full-time employees company-wide dedicated to environmental and conservation efforts. The environmental services department consists of three managers of environmental services and an environmental coordinator, who are all responsible for monitoring the company’s usage of natural resources such as natural gas and electricity. Sanderson Farms utilizes energy-efficient LED lighting in select processing facilities resulting in 226,466 kWh of electricity saved in the calendar year 2021. Sanderson Farms generated 309,561 MMBTUs of renewable energy or biogas, which reduced the volume of natural gas purchased in their facilities. Sanderson Farms has reduced its water use intensity by 44% since 2008 and saves 1.3+ billion gallons of water annually.

    8,400 acres of land restored naturally — 2022 TxN 20 Honoree: Vital Farms

    Who is Vital Farms?

    Vital Farms’ purpose is rooted in a commitment to Conscious Capitalism, which prioritizes the long-term benefits to each of their stakeholders – farmers and suppliers, customers and consumers, communities and the environment, crew members, and stockholders. Today Vital Farms partners with over 275 small family farms. Every hen is humanely treated, every egg is pasture-raised, and they continue to elevate their own, and the industry’s, standards.

    How does Vital Farms set the standard?

    Approximately 200 family farms commit to Vital Farms exacting standards and the pasture-raised practices they believe are best for hens, cows, and land, resulting in 8,400 acres of natural land restoration. 

    Through Vital Farms’ conservation-minded pasture rotation practice, the land is naturally restored, and herbicides and pesticides are avoided in 300 farms. ZERO waste facilities: all excess egg product is used for other purposes, such as pet food. In addition, Vital Farms utilizes bio-retention features that clean and cool rainwater, provide for the recharge of local aquifers rather than runoff into storm sewers, and conserve over 700,000 gallons of water per year. 

    Why forward-thinking leaders in Agriculture matter

    80% of groundwater in Texas is used for irrigating crops, and according to the State Water Development Board’s 2022 Water Plan, Texas’ population is expected to grow by 70% by 2070. This increase in population means natural resources, including water and the agricultural products that put food on the table, will need to stretch further. To meet these needs while protecting the environment, it’s critical that the agriculture industry in Texas weaves environmental sustainability into its business model. Texas ingenuity in agriculture is helping produce more with less and increase environmental stewardship along the way.

    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: DOW Inc

    DOW Inc. is a leader in sustainability with its various initiatives to preserve natural resources. Notable efforts include executing optimization projects that have saved approximately 400,000 mT CO2 annually. Additionally, their efforts in renewable power surpassed their 2025 goals by obtaining 740 MV from renewable sources.

    Industry Innovator: Bayer & Bayer Crop Science

    Bayer & Bayer Crop Science incorporates sustainable practices into their business. Their unique efforts include using plant biotechnology to create herbicide-tolerant plants that reduce the release of GHG from the soil. The company also participates in purchasing electricity from renewable energies. In 2021, 24.7% of their electricity was sourced renewably as they are working towards 100% by 2029.

    Industry Innovator: Dairy Farmers of America

    Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) prioritizes sustainable efforts by aligning with UN SDG goals. DFA has approximately 200 on-farm renewable energy projects with plans to utilize more than 50 anaerobic digesters to convert dairy waste products into green energy. Additionally, DFA focuses greatly on soil health and regenerative agriculture to increase the longevity of soil life and health.

    Get Involved:
    Is your company at the forefront of conservation and environmental sustainability in Texas? Do you want to be recognized for your efforts? Contact Texan by Nature at 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).

     

     

  3. Texan by Nature’s Accelerator Program: Conservation Wrangler

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    Conservation Wrangler Program

    Conservation Wrangler is an accelerator program that catalyzes the very best Texan-led conservation projects in the state. Selected projects are research-based and demonstrate a positive return on conservation for people, prosperity, and natural resources.

    Return on Conservation: The return realized by investing in conservation encompassing positive financial, people, and natural resource impact.

    2021 Conservation Wrangler San Antonio Zoo’s Horned Lizard Reintroduction Project.

    Each year, organizations with ongoing conservation projects have the opportunity to submit Conservation Wrangler applications that are scored against a wide range of criteria with an emphasis on proven environmental, economic, and human impacts. Texan by Nature looks for applications that benefit Texans’ quality of life, economic growth, and natural resources in equal measures. Projects can focus on many natural resources such as wildlife, land, and water and be based in any Texas geography from urban to rural.

    During each program cycle, Texan by Nature selects up to six Conservation Wrangler projects to support with 18 months of program management, strategic planning, marketing messaging, metrics capture and analysis, professional content production, partnership development, and more. Each project has specific support needs and Texan by Nature develops a custom program plan with actionable goals to meet those needs and accelerate the project. 

    2018 Conservation Wrangler McDonald Observatory’s Dark Skies Initiative works to mitigate light pollution.

    Additionally, ALL Conservation Wrangler programs receive:

    • 12-18 months of tailored support
    • Recognition and certificate
    • Promotion via social media, newsletters, blogs, websites, etc.
    • Professional content production in the form of videos, collateral, and messaging
    • Program management and impact reporting
    • Monthly media roundup
    • Inclusion in partner program
    • Connections to technical, expert, and industry support
    • Recognition and participation in Texan by Nature’s annual Conservation Summit
    2022 Conservation Wrangler Hives for Heroes connects veterans to hives and beekeeping training.

    STRATEGIC PLANNING

    For conservation nonprofits, it is imperative to have a strong mission, vision, and strategy for conducting business. A strategic plan lays the foundation for broad organizational structure, allows a leadership team to set and keep track of measurable goals, and provides direction and guidance during the decision-making process. Additionally, a strategic plan is a great asset to share with staff and board members to ensure organization-wide alignment and prepare for growth. Refining goals, setting priorities, and creating a future plan are all ways that Texan by Nature helps our Conservation Wranglers think strategically about their project.

    • Texan by Nature acted in an advisory capacity on the Texas Children in Nature Network Strategic Plan during their participation as a Conservation Wrangler in 2020.
    • In 2022, Texan by Nature developed a comprehensive Strategic Planning framework that  allows organizations to understand all of the components that make up their strategy, empowering staff to create a plan without the need to hire an outside consulting firm. TxN is currently working with our 2022 Conservation Wranglers to develop useful strategic planning documents that aid in advancing their mission.
    2021 Conservation Wrangler Texas Children in Nature emphasizes equal access to outdoor opportunities.

    MARKETING AND MESSAGING

    Once a project or organization develops a clear vision and goals, our focus shifts to spreading that message across the state. Texan by Nature helps Conservation Wrangler projects build out an effective marketing strategy – from determining the right way to message your intentions, to curating a list of outreach targets and developing unique deliverables. We also provide social media strategy support, Some examples of the work we have done in collaboration with our CW projects on marketing and messaging include: 

    Conservation Wrangler Videos tell the story of a project, highlight the positive impacts, and explain existing ways to support it. We provide each CW with a five-minute full-length video, as well as a 30s and 60s cut. These assets are debuted at the Conservation Summit and are then made available to the project to share on social media, send to potential donors, and post anywhere else they see fit. 

     

    Texan by Nature also provides each Conservation Wrangler project with a comprehensive one-pager to provide background on the project, highlight the positive impacts on people, prosperity, and natural resources, and outline existing ways to support it. This document is printed for the Conservation Summit and also provided to each project for distribution to whomever they choose.

    CW projects may require additional support in developing materials that tell the story of their work. Texan by Nature is skilled in GIS content production and able to produce high-quality project area maps, as well as detailed Story Maps that guide the audience through a series of curated maps, quotations, and photos.

    FUNDRAISING AND PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

    Conservation nonprofits rely heavily on fundraising efforts and sponsorship opportunities to fund their work. It takes time and relationship-building to curate a diverse network of donors and partners. Texan by Nature aids our Conservation Wranglers by advising them on how to build this network for themselves based on their unique location and mission. 

    Fundraising support conducted through the Conservation Wrangler program consists of assistance in the curation of outreach materials, lists and targets, professional content creation, strategic support and planning, and more. The Conservation Wrangler program does not provide funding to projects.

    Royal Terns in Matagorda Bay, site of 2021 Conservation Wrangler Audubon Texas’ work

    IMPACT MEASUREMENT

    Texan by Nature’s mission is to advance conservation. We help our Conservation Wranglers by capturing and analyzing metrics, creating case studies and model expansion statements, as well as producing deliverables that align project directives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Examples of impact measurement include: 

    • UN SDG Mapping: By aligning year-to-date and future project impacts to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Conservation Wranglers can make the business case for boots-on-the-ground conservation efforts as a vital strategy for achieving Corporate ESG goals. Additionally, the UN SDGs span across all sects of sustainability, allowing co-benefits of each unique Conservation Wrangler project to be deeply and clearly articulated. Texan by Nature uses the following resources to track the Conservation Wrangler project alignment with the UN SDG reporting framework:

    EDUCATION

    Many of our Conservation Wranglers focus on a specific species, ecoregion, or ecosystem. To achieve its goals, a project’s target audience must first have an understanding of the topic, which then creates an interest in support. Texan by Nature helps Conservation Wranglers develop educational materials that encourage greater community engagement and provide more transparency and credibility to the project. Some examples include:

    Pine warbler in Longleaf Pine.

    Since the inception of the Conservation Wrangler program in 2017, Texan by Nature has supported 23 unique projects across the state, elevating their conservation work. Through this program, TxN has accelerated efforts impacting 7+ million people, 20 million acres, and all of Texas’ 254 counties.

    Visit our website to read more about the specific impacts of each Conservation Wrangler project. 

    Please contact programs@texanbynature.org if you would like to support a Conservation Wrangler project, provide resources or connections, are interested in applying to the Conservation Wrangler program, or would like to learn more.

  4. Texas Master Naturalist Q&A

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 115+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

    Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner Texas Master Naturalist and their work training well-informed community leaders who effect positive change in the natural resource management in their communities.

    Q: Tell us about The Texas Master Naturalist Program and its mission.

    A: The Texas Master Naturalist Program mission is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

    Many communities and organizations rely on such volunteers for implementing youth education programs; for operating parks, nature centers, and natural areas; and for providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. In fact, a short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts. The Texas Master Naturalist Program is training volunteers to help in these conservation efforts.

    Q: What is the history of The Texas Master Naturalist Program?

    A: The Texas Master Naturalist program began in 1997 and has grown from 4 chapters and 400 volunteers to 48 chapters and over 15,220 volunteers today. Our program’s foundation is based upon the partnership between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. What makes the work of a Master Naturalist so important is that they are not only individuals who love nature and offer their time, but are also trained naturalists with specialized knowledge of different ecosystems, species, habitats, and environmental demands.

    How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?

    Q: We achieve our mission through our amazing corps of volunteers and chapters across the state. Through the Master Naturalist training, participants not only learn about natural resources, but they also receive training on how to educate others about natural resources. 

    A primary goal of the Master Naturalist program is to develop an organization of knowledgeable volunteers to help promote conservation and management of natural resources through educating their communities. We welcome all Texans aged 18 and above to join!

    Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs? 

    A: Our Texas Master Naturalist Chapters all work diligently in their local areas to address the environmental needs of their communities. Members have worked on projects such as:

    • Working as a wetland restoration team along a coastal area
    • Assisting with field surveys of endangered species such as the Golden-Cheeked Warbler
    • Presenting interpretive programs to campers at state parks
    • Performing water quality test
    • Restoring a blackland prairie in a city park
    • Assisting a nature center with the establishment of a herbarium
    • Developing and maintaining nature trails and leading informative hikes
    • Improving a wetland habitat along a river
    • Assisting with a turtle patrol along a beach
    • Leading a school class on a nature hike or conducting a workshop at a school
    • Assisting with the Texas Horned Lizard Watch

    Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects and programs?

    A: Members of the Texas Master Naturalist Program have made incredible impacts through the entirety of our program since its 1997 inception through this past year, 2021. Our corps of volunteer citizen scientists have:

    • Helped to train – or become – one of 474 new members in 2021 adding to the ranks of some 15,220 who have been trained as Texas Master Naturalists since our program’s inception.
    • Contributed 442,595 hours of service in 2021 and more than 5.9 million hours to date!
    • Master Naturalist volunteer service in 2021 was valued at $10.18 million and more than $131.53 million to date!
    • Obtained 64,551 hours of Advanced Training in 2021 and 877,664 hours of AT to date.
    • Reached over 137,526 youth, adults, and private landowners in 2021 and more than 6.63 million people to date.
    • Added 2 new acres under stewardship and management projects in 2021 and made an impact on more than 229,100 acres of Texas to date.
    • Developed or maintained more than 2,234+ miles of trail to date.

    “As a Texas Master Naturalist, you’ve heard us say that when you put on the dragonfly badge, your name tags, your pins, or your Texas Master Naturalist shirt – you are part of something bigger. You are part of our state’s largest conservation and stewardship movement. YOU ARE our Texas Master Naturalist Family! And our family is awesome!” – Mary Pearl Meuth, Master Naturalist Assistant State Program Coordinator

    Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or challenges ahead?

    A: We are excited to host our 23rd Texas Master Naturalist Program Annual Meeting, an event to gather, learn, and celebrate another year of the Texas Master Naturalist Program this fall. We’re preparing this year’s meeting as an in-person event at the Omni Houston on Thursday, October 20th through Sunday October 23rd. This year’s agenda is packed with 100+ concurrent technical sessions lined up with a huge variety of topics–from laws & ethics to native pollinators, from fungi to bird conservation issues and from youth programming to water quality community science.

    Q: Are there any other interesting news / events / facts about your organization? 

    A: On Tuesday October 11th, at 12p.m. we will host a Texas Master Naturalist Chapter Project Fair as part of our #TMNTuesday monthly online webinars. All are welcome to learn about conservation efforts conducted by Texas Master Naturalist Chapters across the state. Visit the #TMNTuesday website for more information and a link to register: https://txmn.tamu.edu/tmntuesdays/

    #TMNTuesdays are open to the public to join anytime and recordings of each month’s topic are shared on the same website.

    Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?

    A: The first step is to visit our site: https://txmn.tamu.edu/about/want-to-be-a-master-naturalist/. Texas Master Naturalists not only get their feet wet and their hands dirty, but while doing so, they spend time in a natural setting. Master Naturalist Trainees must successfully complete an approved training program with at least 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction though a Texas Master Naturalist Chapter. 

    After completing the training above, the candidate donates at least 40 hours of volunteer service back to the state and community. Trainees can complete their 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training within a year after completion of their initial training to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist. In subsequent years, the candidate must complete another 8 hours of advanced training and donate 40 hours of volunteer service to maintain their certification (or to re-certify) as a Texas Master Naturalist.

    Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 115+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.

  5. TxWAC: Tackling Water Conservation in Texas

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    TxWAC: Increasing Investments in Water Conservation

    Spanning 5 of Texas’ 10 ecoregions and 7% of the state’s total land area, the Trinity River is a defining feature of the East Texas landscape. In addition to providing shade and wildlife habitat, including areas of urban forest in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, 5.5 million Texans depend on the Trinity as their primary water source, and 7.5 million people in the DFW area depend on the Trinity River water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use. 

    Like many river systems across the state and country, water quality and quantity in the Trinity river system is under pressure from human activity such as population growth: Texas’ population of 29 million people is expected to double by 2050, further stretching water supplies that are already under pressure in some areas. Water conservation in Texas can be tough, as 95% of Texas lands are privately owned –– collaboration is needed to move the needle in the right direction. 

    We thank our lucky Lone Star there’s a collaborative solution laying the groundwork for water conservation in Texas: Texas Water Action Collaborative, or TxWAC. 

    A Collaborative Solution

    Facilitated by Texan by Nature in collaboration with businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations, TxWAC launched the upper Trinity River Basin on World Water Day 2021. The collaborative began with a pilot program focused on Trinity River as a river system that is representative of both the threats facing water supplies and the opportunities for uniting conservation and industry across Texas. 

    55% of the Trinity River Basin is made up of agricultural lands used for crop cultivation or cattle ranching, both important economic activities in Texas. These water-intensive activities, along with population growth, groundwater depletion, and drought in the state, mean that Texas needs to take action now, with our water supplies being under greater pressure than ever. 

    Expanding Business Support for Conservation

    The TxWAC works by matching project funders from the business and philanthropic sectors to water conservation projects that need funding. One or more business partners may fund projects at any given time to meet their environmental, social, and goverance goals. In 2021, TxWAC members PepsiCo, Meta, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation funded Ducks Unlimited’s restoration of 206 acres of wetland at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area along the Trinity. The project creates wetland habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds, and improves overall water quality in the Trinity by reconditioning 200 million gallons of water each year. Lean more about this investment.

    Through piloting TxWAC in the Trinity River Basin, Texan by Nature is developing a roadmap to effect positive change in river systems by accelerating the rate of funding for water conservation projects, which are an important piece to protecting water supplies across the state. With investment from the energy corporation Hess Corporation, TxWAC expanded to the lower Trinity River Basin in March 2022. Through the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023, Texan by Nature is scoping the expansion of TxWAC to an additional river basin in Texas. 

    “Clean, healthy waterways are important to the state of Texas, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. This partnership with Texan by Nature on the TxWAC project is a great addition to the other water programs Hess is involved in and aligns with the commitment Hess has to clean water and addressing marine debris. We are excited to see the opportunities this brings forward.” – Brock Hajdik, Vice President for Gulf of Mexico at Hess Corporation.

    The TxWAC Planning Team includes representatives from the following businesses and organizations:

    For a complete list of TxWAC business and conservation members, see the TxWAC page.

    Get Involved 

    TxWAC’s mission is simple: benefit water resources in Texas through collaboration between conservation and business. Interested businesses and organizations may become TxWAC members at no cost. By becoming a member, you’re expressing interest in achieving TxWAC’s collaboration goals of improved water quality and quantity and joining the conversation about how to achieve those goals. 

    If you are interested in learning more about TxWAC, please contact Taylor Keys at taylor@texanbynature.org

    You can also get involved with TxWAC by attending the next bimonthly meeting this September 27, 2022 at 10 AM CT.  REGISTER HERE or email taylor@texanbynature.org for the calendar invite.

    Come on in, the water’s fine!

    Visit https://texanbynature.org/projects/texas-water-action-collaborative/ for the latest!

  6. Conservation Wrangler Case Study: Paso del Norte

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    The Paso del Norte Trail (PDN), a trail network spanning across El Paso County promoting an active lifestyle and natural resource conservation, was selected as a Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler in 2020. During each Conservation Wrangler program cycle, Texan by Nature provides up to 6 Texan projects that benefit people prosperity, and natural resources with 12-18 months of tailored support in the form of program management, strategic planning, marketing messaging, metrics capture and analysis, professional content production, and partnership development – whatever is needed to accelerate the project. The following blog showcases highlights from the Paso del Norte Trail Case Study, complied by Texan by Nature as part of he Conservation Wrangler program to demonstrate the benefits of the PDN trail as well as outline opportunities for expansion.

    Project Description

    Serving a population of 2.7 million in the region between El Paso and their sister city Juarez, Mexico, the Paso del Norte Trail has the vision to improve environmental, economic, and public health conditions for Texans and our neighbors across the border in Mexico.

    This project is a community-driven, collaborative effort to develop a county-wide trail in El Paso County. The roughly 68–mile span of the PDN Trail is divided into five distinct districts, each defined by their unique geographical, historical, and cultural contexts. The PDN Trail provides essential transportation routes for community members to businesses, parks, and downtown areas, including the University of Texas at El Paso, Ascarate Park, the University Medical Center, and the El Paso Zoo. Connector trails and loops provide additional access to natural areas and outdoor spaces, such as the Franklin Mountains State Park and the Rio Grande River. The PDN trail network includes designated hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as ADA accessible paved trails in high-traffic and rural areas.

    PDN trails cover a range of terrain from natural surface to paved paths in high-traffic areas.

    Key Points

    In addition to the economic and social benefits provided by the PDN trail, the trail network benefits wildlife in the area by preserving and restoring habitat, including bat houses that can provide shelter for up to 1,200 bats, and habitats designed for nesting Burrowing Owl mothers and their owlets. In the water-stressed Chihuahuan Desert, the PDN uses water-harvesting practices like bioswales and curb breaks to efficiently use water on-site. Irrigation canals along the PDN, which convey water from the Rio Grande to farmers, and bioswales, which recharge underground water reservoirs, are particularly important as 50% of El Paso’s drinking water comes from the Rio Grande itself, with the other 50% sourced from the Hueco-Mesilla Bolson Aquifer. As populations on both sides of the border grow along with demand on water resources, protection and conservation of water resources are top priorities for the PDN Trail.

    “The Paso del Norte Trail is the next step in the evolution of our great city. It will bring connectivity to our entire city, it will foster economic growth, and be an amenity to everyone that comes here, visits here, and lives here.” – Marybeth Stevens, President, Better Business Bureau, El Paso

    Project Impact Results

    • Serves a population of 2.7 million in the region between El Paso and their sister city Juarez, Mexico 
    • Provides the community with connections to businesses, attractions, parks, downtown areas, recreational activities, outdoor spaces, and historic landmarks. 
    • Includes environmentally-friendly amenities such as pollinator-friendly and native plant species, green infrastructure, stormwater drainage systems, and solar-powered energy.
    • Economically benefits the community through increased profits at local businesses, decreased public health costs, improved transportation options, the interconnectedness between the city and nature, and elevated property values.
    • Provides access to landmarks such as the Franklin Mountains and the Rio Grande River from the PDN Trail for all ages and abilities.
    • Installations at the Playa Drain Trailhead and Vocation Pond Park provide habitat for 1,200 bats and burrowing owl habitats for nesting mothers and their owlets.

     

    Accomplishments and Innovations:

    • Over 20 miles of the planned 60+ miles are complete and open to the public as of 2021
    • As of 2021, the PdN Trail saw 141 volunteers donate 300 hours of time at over 20 events, including planting 115 trees.
      • TxDOT and the PdN trail collaborated to install trail counters in 2021, helping gain insight on actual trail usage along the Playa Drain Trail, strengthening the case for the trail to funders and the public.

    Model Expansion

    The PDN trail is a prime example of a communal recreational space that positively contributes to the well-being of the environment, community, and natural resources. Whether the intent is to build a small nature trail around a neighborhood or to construct a binational trail spanning for miles, a strategic, exhaustive, and collaborative plan must be created.

    To see how other trails developed over time, visit these sites for examples of Texan trails of varying sizes:  Spring Creek Nature Trail, River Place Nature Trail, Barton Creek Greenbelt, and Santa Elena Canyon Trail

    Implementation of the PDN trail and its accompanying initiatives is ongoing, as will public outreach tasks such as brand awareness and community involvement.

    Contact Information

    Contact Texan by Nature at info@texanbynature.org or email: health@pdnhf.org

    Website: https://www.pasodelnortetrail.org/

     

     

  7. Lights Out Texas 2022 Spring Recap Blog

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    Lights Out Texas is a campaign of education, awareness, and action that focuses on turning out lights at night during the Spring and Fall migrations to help protect the billions of migratory birds that fly over Texas annually. The goal of Lights Out Texas is to reduce migratory bird mortality by increasing statewide participation at the business, local official, municipal, and community levels, as well as collecting and reporting data.

    This effort was originally launched in 2017 by Houston Audubon and American National Insurance Company following a major bird collision event involving 400 birds in Galveston. Right around this time, Cornell Lab of Ornithology developed their BirdCast migration forecast maps using historical radar data. Later, Lights Out Texas took hold in Dallas-Fort Worth, led by Texas Conservation Alliance, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Dallas Zoo with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University supporting efforts and Texan by Nature helping with outreach in Fall 2020. Throughout 2021, Texan by Nature (TxN) collaborated with these leading organizations to facilitate Lights Out Texas at the statewide level in order to standardize the approach to messaging, communication, and volunteer efforts across all Texas organizations. In 2022, the management of Lights Out Texas for Spring of 2022 was co-facilitated by Texan by Nature and Audubon Texas, with a total transition of the statewide initiative to Audubon Texas in the Summer of 2022.

    As fall bird migration quickly approaches, please save the date for going lights out at night:

    • Full Fall Migration Period: August 15 – November 30
    • Critical Peak Migration Period: September 5 – October 29

    We hope you will join us in turning out lights at night from 11 pm to 6 am throughout fall migration and celebrate the success from spring bird migration below.

    Spring 2022 Lights Out Texas Campaign by the Numbers

    • Social media and outreach toolkits were distributed to 115+ conservation organizations across Texas.Outreach to media outlets resulted in  67 earned media placements receiving 680,846,200 impressions.
    •  627 earned social media posts reached 9,055,537 accounts, receiving 51,823 likes/reactions and 8,419 shares.
    • Through email outreach efforts, 800+ businesses operating in Texas were targeted with Lights Out Texas messaging and 57 businesses confirmed participation in turning out lights at night for migrating birds.
    • 11 cities and 2 counties made proclamations.
    • Individuals, municipalities, and businesses made 440 Lights Out Texas pledges through Texas Conservation Alliance’s Lights Out for Wildlife Certification, and an additional 299 pledges were made with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
    • Four organizations conducted on-the-ground volunteer efforts to understand bird-building collisions, 124 people contributed 1,212 volunteer hours and documented 362 bird casualties.

    Media Highlights

    Check out these social media posts, quotes, and articles featuring Lights Out Texas from this past spring.

    City of Dallas Proclamation- Mayor Johnson: On Earth Day, Mayor Johnson proclaims ‘Lights Out Nights’ in Dallas to help migratory birds,” was featured on medium.com  


    Conservation Organizations

    Conservation organizations across Texas conducted volunteer efforts in conjunction with Lights Out Texas to better understand bird-building collisions and bird-migration dynamics. Texas A&M University, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Oklahoma State University, Texan by Nature, Houston Audubon, Texas Conservation Alliance, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Travis Audubon collaborated to develop standardized volunteer guides and training videos to guide statewide efforts.

    Municipal Participation

    Eleven cities and two counties across Texas made Lights Out Texas proclamations:

    • City of Austin* (Spring 2022)
    • City of Buda (Spring 2022)
    • City of Dallas* (Spring 2022)
    • City of Dripping Springs* (Perpetually) 
    • City of Fort Worth* (Spring 2022)
    • City of Houston (Spring 2022)
    • City of Kyle (Spring 2022)
    • League City Texas (Spring 2022)
    • City of San Marcos (Spring 2022)
    • City of Wimberly (Spring 2022)
    • City of Woodcreek (Spring 2022)
    • Hays County (Spring 2022) 
    • Travis County* (Spring 2022)

    *These cities made proclamations in Fall 2021 as well.

    Texas Conservation Alliance Volunteers

    Thank You!

    A special thank you to Heather Prestridge, Curator, Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at Texas A&M University for providing support, expertise, and expediting permits and sub permits needed for volunteers to collect specimens and to Tania Homayoun, Ph.D, Texas Nature Trackers Biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for support, expertise, and for creating an iNaturalist project for Lights Out Texas.

    A big thank you goes out to the following organizations that made Lights Out Texas possible for the 2021 Spring campaign:

    Lights Out Texas Founding and Coordinating Organizations

    Lights Out Texas Supporting Organizations

    Austin

    Houston & Gulf Coast

    Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex

    San Antonio

    West Texas

    Statewide

    National

    Learn More

    In 2022, the management of Lights Out Texas for Spring of 2022 was co-facilitated by Texan by Nature and Audubon Texas, with a total transition of the statewide initiative to Audubon Texas in the Summer of 2022. Learn more and see the latest Lights Out Texas Resources at tx.audubon.org/urbanconservation/lights-out-texas 

  8. Webinar Recap: Land, Water, & Wildlife – Conservation in Action

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    In 2021, Texan by Nature (TxN) and North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) launched a complimentary, four-part webinar series to increase education and awareness of the top natural resource conservation practices in the Lone Star State. The series provided new data, ideas, actionable next steps, and resources for individuals and businesses to get involved. You can watch the first three webinars here or on the Texan by Nature YouTube Channel:

    The fourth and last webinar in the series, “Texas Land, Water, & Wildlife – Conservation in Action,” featured the following speakers:

    Watch the full recording of the webinar:

     

    During the presentations, the following questions were asked via chat. All of the questions and answers can be viewed here:

    Learn more:

  9. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Ella Ip

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    By Ella Ip, Texan by Nature Intern 

    All my life, I’ve never had a place to solidly lay my roots down and call my singular “home.” My mom and dad left England for the United States so that my mom could pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. After landing in California, my older brother and I began the arduous process of learning English and integrating with the children. This was only the beginning of my many journeys across America.

    In total, I’ve lived in five different places. I was too young to remember California but old enough to remember Pennsylvania. My earliest memory in Narberth, Pennsylvania, was eating onigiris at the local Japanese grocery store, squishing the roasted salmon and sticky rice between my small hands. For dessert, my grandmother and I would hurry to the French bakery across from my school and buy a packaged chocolate crepe to enjoy on the walk home. Then, I would watch as the sky turned from being completely clear and littered with clouds to being replaced with darkness and speckled with stars.

    Most recently, I moved to Austin as a sophomore in high school. At first, I was skeptical. I had lived in the Northeast for almost all of my foundational years, and I wasn’t used to the intense heat of the Texas sun. Although, once I saw Lady Bird Lake and the dozens of paddle boarders openly gliding across the glimmering water, I was mesmerized. My dad loved the beach, so our vacations usually entailed living in a cottage near the water and waking up every day to the sounds of the deep blue sea. I loved how the coolness of the water protected me from feeling the scorching heat and that I could float effortlessly on the top. Simply put, I fell in love with the water. 

    I spent my high school years traveling between Austin and New Haven, Connecticut. Both places were vastly different, but their common thread was the lovely bodies of water each city offered me. I could walk around the many rock pools in Connecticut, finding small crabs and starfish nestled within. In Austin, I could splash around in the vast lakes with my friends and feel the mossy rocks beneath our feet as we sat down to rest from swimming. I knew my attachment to water and what lives within it would push me towards a specific trajectory in my future professional career. 

    Now, another place I call home is Waterville, Maine. Although extremely small and isolated, Maine also has scenic sites and relaxing streams of water. At Colby College, I hope to weave my interest in conservation with business to figure out how companies can move their operations to support and foster sustainable growth. Even though I am often far removed from Texas, what makes me Texan by Nature is my ability to create a piece of home in every place I settle. From California to Maine, I’ve created meaningful memories with each home and carried them with me to the present day. So no matter where I go, Texas will always be a piece of the puzzle I fondly call home.

     

  10. Conservation Partner: Houston Wilderness

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

    Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Houston Wilderness and how they are protecting, promoting, and preserving wild spaces in the greater Houston area. 

    Q: Tell us about Houston Wilderness and its mission. 

    A: Houston Wilderness works with a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests to protect and promote the 10 diverse ecoregions of the 13+ county area around Houston, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, including coastal prairies, forests, wetlands, and waterways. In serving these areas, our mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the nature of these ecoregions.

     

    Q: What is the history of Houston Wilderness? 

    A: Since 2003, Houston Wilderness has initiated several different projects and programs to protect, preserve and promote our Houston and surrounding areas ecoregions. We have grown to include programs for monarch butterflies and reforestation efforts through the Port of Houston TREEs program. We’re also working with partners in monitoring wildlife around Houston through our RAWARC program- Regional Assessments of Wildlife Along Riparian Corridors. This has allowed us to get a view of the wildlife that uses our beloved Bayous and trails around Houston and has made for some really fun photography. 

    Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience? 

    A: Collaboration has been key in getting the work done- everything from the landowners implementing butterfly gardens all over the State to the volunteers that help us get trees in the ground in our Houston Ship Channel T.R.E.E.S. program, we wouldn’t be able to complete all of the great work that we do without our partners. 

    Since the work we do affects all of the ecoregions around the state – our audience includes anyone who uses these green spaces in the ecoregions we service.

    Houston Wilderness connects people to the 10 ecoregions in multiple counties around Greater Houston through large-scale environmental policy initiatives, including facilitation of key programs including: 

    • 8-county Regional Conservation Plan: A long-term collaborative of environmental, business, and governmental entities working together to implement resilience plan for the Gulf-Houston region
    • Texas Monarch Flyway Strategy: A statewide effort to restore, increase and enhance Monarch habitat across four major regions in the state
    • Port of Houston TREES Program: A multi-year collaborative project focused on large-scale tree plantings along Lower Buffalo Bayou, Lower Brays Bayou, and 25 miles of the Houston Ship Channel. Use of our targeted Super Trees allows this project to be successful in carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
    • Collaborative Grant Organizing Program: Houston Wilderness works with multiple stakeholders and federal/state agencies on collaborative grant proposals and funded projects, often in “pioneering” areas of environmental planning and resilience in the Greater Gulf-Houston Region

    All of these programs ensure that relevant stakeholders are at the table and collaborative solutions are supported and implemented. 

    “Houston Wilderness is doing the work to help link so many hardworking stakeholders in ensuring the ecological health of our city and surrounding areas,” – Ana Tapia, Sr. Director of Environmental Programs. 

    Monarch butterfly moments after Houston Wilderness revamped and cleaned up the butterfly garden at the Houston Health Department.

    Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?

    A: An example of our programs is our ongoing goal along with the City of Houston and multiple stakeholders to plant 4.6 millions trees by 2030! The Tree Strategy Implementation Group (TSIG) came together in early 2020 to create a strategy to accomplish the Resilient Houston

    Plan’s goal to plant 4.6 million new native trees by 2030. The 14 Native “Super Tree” species have been identified for their high levels of ecosystem services in air pollution and water absorption, carbon sequestration and tree canopy size. Those trees include: Live Oak, Boxelder, Laurel Oak, Red Maple, River Birch, American Elm, Slippery Elm, Tulip Tree, American Sycamore, Green Ash, Loblolly Pine, White Ash, Water Oak, Sweet Gum.

    The primary goal of large-scale native tree plantings, and reforestation is to create and/or restore multi-species forests at various sizes in areas that were traditionally forested in the region in order to provide critical ecosystem services to residents and wildlife. 

    The aforementioned RAWARC program has gained a lot of attention- especially through one of our partner’s Buffalo Bayou Partnership- their camera has caught a large variety of native Houston wildlife along the Bayou and made for some fun social media interactions. 

     

    Minyue Hu helps plant a rare Slippery Elm in Pasadena Memorial Park as part of an Eagle Scout project.

    Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?

    A:  Our Port of Houston TREES program tackles air pollution in Houston that’s known to pose an increased risk of asthma attacks and cardiac arrest according to researchers at the Houston Health Department, Houston Fire Department, Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine. The planting of large-scale native trees provides high levels of air quality benefits, particularly when targeted in high health-risk areas such as the ones shown in the map below outlining our targeted areas. Our intention is always to put nature first as we help develop Best Management Practices to help increase ecological benefits of our programs. 

    Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or even challenges ahead? 

    A: Our Annual Luncheon celebrates the 10 ecoregions of Greater Gulf-Houston Region with area elected officials, stakeholders, interested parties and friends. Public officials from up to 15 different counties are invited to attend! 

    SHELL, Lionstone Investments, SMB Offshore, Bank of Texas along with other volunteers helped to plant 1,000 trees along Greens Bayou to help in mitigation of storm effects.

    Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization? 

    A: Check out our website! We have all of our programs listed as well as ways you can contribute or volunteer. We also have an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we post about upcoming events and tree plantings! 

    Additionally, Houston Wilderness has created three specialized versions of its Wilderness Passport

    The Wilderness Passport provides an accessible guide to visiting the natural world in the Houston area in the context of our local ecoregions. The Wilderness Passport lists state parks, wildlife refuges, museums, arboretums, and nature centers in each of our 7 land-based and 3 water-based ecoregions.

    Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.

     

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