Tag Archive: nature

  1. What Makes Me Texan By Nature – Neema Mugofwa

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    By Neema Mugofwa, Texan by Nature Intern

     

     

     

     

     

    For me, Texas has always been home. No matter where I go, Texas is the place I’m most excited to get back to. I grew up in Cedar Park, going to feed the ducks at the Arboretum, begging for endless rides on the Zilker Zephyr, and stomping out new trails on the preserved land behind our house. Texas is the first place I learned to miss, and every time I’m away the Texas-sized well in my heart slowly empties until I return and can refill it with hours in the Texas sun.

    I went to boarding school for high school in Carpinteria, CA; a small, slow beach town that’s 15 minutes from Santa Barbara and home to the California Avocado Festival. The school was a tight-knit community on top of a hill, with mountains to the east and the ocean to the west. It was there that I went on my first backpacking trip, tended to the garden on campus, and ate honey from the hive run by the beekeeping club. Moving away from home at 14 is a pretty big step, but if Texas has taught me anything it’s that bigger is better.

    After fourteen years in the suburbs and four by the beach, my next stop had to be a city. I chose to go to school in the heart of Washington D.C.; a city so different from what I knew, but still allows me access to the dirt and fresh air I so need. I’m majoring in Environmental and Sustainability Science and minoring in Data Science with the hope that I can transfer the knowledge I gain in the classroom to give back and protect the nature that recharges me.

    We all know that everything is bigger in Texas, and I think that’s part of why I don’t shy away from big changes. Embracing the “big” is the Texas way. This doesn’t mean that we should disregard the small things. Instead, they become that much more important. Just like in nature, the big picture cannot be complete without each of its parts working together. From the bees to the trees to the humans that occupy any natural space, we all have to do our part to ensure the health and longevity of our planet. 

    Texan by Nature does just that. We embrace the big challenge of merging conservation and business by lifting up smaller initiatives that work towards a shared goal. Our mission is to make Texas more invested in conservation and sustainable development through innovation and entrepreneurship. Tackling the big by appreciating the small.

    The relationship I have with Texas is symbiotic. It has given me a home that I know well but about which I will always have more to learn, and in return, I will work to maintain the natural qualities that I, and many others, take pride in. That’s what makes me Texan by Nature.

  2. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Kayla Gillen

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    By Kayla Gillen, Texan by Nature Intern

    Playing in the bluebonnets.

    It seems I have always reflected upon the impact that “place” has on formulating personhood and personality. I was born in Austin to parents who had moved down from the plainlands of Kansas in search of a warm and inviting place to start a family and make some memories. The earliest moments in my first home were not too out of the ordinary: running through the fountains made by sprinklers in the prime of summer, flying endlessly and weightlessly on the swingsets at the park, and the smell of sunscreen slathered on at the pool. Most of these moments were tied together by a backdrop that characterizes Texas nature: the blue skies without a single cloud, the beating sun on the asphalt, and the relief of a shady oak tree or cold spring water.

    Later on, we moved just north of Austin to the Hill Country, where houses swam in a sea of green trees and the drives were fun. Each summer, I went to camp, and despite my protests to be indoors (there always seemed to be a heat warning), I made close friends and learned about the joys of telling stories on a hike in the woods or playing on the slides in the lake. One night in Girl Scouts, we got to spend the night at a zoo, seeing nocturnal animals awake and lively. I held snakes and saw an armadillo scurry around the room. I absolutely fell in love with the wildlife of my state.

    My love for adventure both locally and globally grew as I got older. As we traveled, my parents began to take my family snorkeling, changing my life and fostering the confidence I needed to become my own explorer. I fell in love with marine life and the feeling of being underwater. I knew then that all these experiences with the environment in the background would play a large part in finding my future direction.

    Leaving Austin proved to be extremely difficult for me, as I packed my bags to move up north to Boston (and to the cold!) for college. At Northeastern University, I am studying Environmental Engineering, and hoping to minor in ecology with a focus on Marine Biology. I am interested in using technology to enhance conservation and optimize the positive effects that humans have on their surrounding world. Even in my new environment, I think about how grateful I am to have been shaped by Texas from the start. It is hard not to miss the beautiful starry night and day trips across the state that filled me with wonder and curiosity.

    This deep wonder, curiosity, and long-lasting connection to the place that I call home, is what makes me Texan by Nature.

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