Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee
April 2, 2003Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 2nd day of April, 2003, there came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Department Wildlife Headquarters Complex, beginning at 3:25 p.m. to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
OUTREACH AND EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas, Commission Chair
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas, Committee Chair
John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas
Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas
Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Our next committee is the Outreach and Education Committee. I'll pass the gavel to Commissioner Henry.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
The meeting is called to order at approximately 3:25.
I'm going to ask for approval of the Committee minutes from the last meeting.
Is there a motion to approve?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: So move.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Second?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Move and seconded that we approve.
Any ‑‑ all in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: The motion is carried.
Chairman's Charges, Mr. Cook?
MR. COOK: We're all clear, sir.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: All clear?
MR. COOK: All clear.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: The next item is the status of the education, interpretation and outreach strategic plan.
Lydia Saldana, please?
MS. SALDANA: Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Lydia Saldana, Director of Communications. I'm here with Steve Hall, and we're going to update you on the status of the education, interpretation and outreach plan.
MR. HALL: Good afternoon, Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Hall, Education and Outreach Director.
We have for you today a status of mostly the education, interpretation and outreach strategic effort. And as part of that effort, as you know, in January, the ‑‑ we had the first meeting of the education and outreach advisory committee. I'd like to personally thank Chairwoman Armstrong and Commissioner Henry for addressing that committee; it got them off to a good start.
And Dick Bartlett has ‑‑ he has got a lot of energy and is going to be a lot of fun. He has assigned essentially a couple of committees, and we'll get into those.
But their first meeting, that January 23, they really just presented the opportunity for us to get to know the expertise of the members of the committee, and, vice-versa, they got to learn a lot about our education, interpretation and outreach efforts that particular day. So it was a good organizational meeting plus a kind of get-to-know-where-we-are type of session.
The second meeting is scheduled for this April 17, this month at Sheldon. And two purposes, of course, is to discuss the education, interpretation and outreach plan ‑‑ the strategic plan, but, also, for those members in attendance, they'll get to look firsthand, hopefully, at the site and the site plan for the Sheldon Environmental Education Center. That should be an exciting meeting.
I ‑‑ but listening to some of the infrastructure report, you know, one wonders. But, certainly, we're going to press forward with our educational efforts there whether the big environmental education center's built or not.
So the education and outreach advisory sub-committees that Mr. Bartlett has appointed ‑‑ one is the Outreach Sub-committee, or Action Team, as Dick calls them, but ‑‑ chaired by Ramona Bass. That committee has met twice, and they're due to meet here tomorrow after this public hearing. So they're really rolling in terms of their charge, and they're really looking at things like key messages and essentially our outreach missions as an Agency but, more importantly, as a state.
Next is ‑‑ the other action team is essentially one dealing with formal education. Certainly the partnerships involved with such agencies is TEA but, also, formal partnerships that we have currently with agencies such as the Texas Cooperative Extension. Dr. Ron Howard is the chair of that committee, and they'll get a chance to deliberate this month, as well.
Internally, we have an education, interpretation and outreach task force that's co-chaired by myself and Bill Dolman. I think Bill's in the room. And Bill's with the Parks Division. And certainly, that brings an inter-divisional touch to this committee in terms of all the resource divisions and the communications division.
And we've been quite active since January. We've met seven times, and we're ‑‑ our main mission since January has been drafting the education, interpretation and outreach strategic plan.
That plan is the plan that we've designed to try to carry us for the next five to ten years. Right now, it's in the hands of executive management for their review, and then it'll go immediately to the education and outreach advisory committee. And as that ‑‑ as they look at it over the next few weeks and then also discuss it at their meeting on April 17, I think they'll give it a good dose of exactly the kinds of expertise that they bring to the table in terms of adding various components, goals and objectives.
Specific components of the plan do include a vision and key messages: What is the vision of our education, interpretation and outreach efforts; What is our role in those efforts. And that's an important question of ourselves and what we've been doing heretofore but, also, where we're heading with this.
The goals and objectives are the key components of that plan, and that's what Chairman or ‑‑ Commissioner Montgomery has been waiting for and is something that we're going to be proud to make sure that we articulate as an agency and, also, as an advisory committee.
And, finally and most importantly, in the implementation of the plan beginning in FY '04, September 1, and making sure that we do two things as an Agency, one is to comply with the sunset requirements as we've been going through, but Number Two is really to try to give us direction for those next five to ten years as to, you know, specifically what programs are going to be funded, what programs are effective in our Agency and what efforts are effective. And part of that will be a review an assessment annually of those kinds of accomplishments.
Certainly, we have within the strategic plan essentially an operational structure by which every program manager of the Department that deals with education and outreach has tools to use to, Number One, document what it is they're going to try to achieve and then, secondly, of course, what they do accomplish toward those goals and objectives at the program level. That will be kind of important, obviously, in the sense that we've got 42 or so programs, identifiable programs, with a statewide mission and that kind of thing.
And that process, while in some cases like federal aid projects, isn't new, to some program managers, it's going to be a new businesslike approach. And it'll be an effective approach at that.
And the definitions above are included in that strategic plan in terms of some of the definitions that we've bantered about over these meetings in trying to get a handle on exactly what we're trying to talk about and the parameters for which we've set.
And finally, the time schedule. And I've given you a few of these dates, but this month is an important month in terms of the strategic plan, as you can see, and then we'll present it back to you at this forum in May, at the May 28 meeting, and, finally, the implementation of the plan and the operating side of that plan starting September 1.
At this point, I'd address any questions that you have.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Questions?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you, very much.
MR. HALL: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: The other item I have relates to ‑‑ I wanted to just give you some brief information on the Sheldon situation, but before I go that route, I need to ask Bob a question and get a little feedback from him, particularly in lieu of the comments made with regard to the Sheldon campaign.
When are we likely to know just what that situation is? Would you say the end of the session? Or ‑‑
MR. COOK: Yes. I think it ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HENRY: And that's in ‑‑
MR. COOK: I think it literally is ‑‑ I think the dollars are at risk until midnight of the last day.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: So then it would not be feasible or ‑‑ to really start any public solicitation or campaign until that is known, wouldn't you say?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: The committee ‑‑ like I said, we had ‑‑ I was going to tell you a little bit about what has been happening. And we were looking forward toward our May 1 date for ‑‑ to start our solicitation or to kick the campaign off. But it appears that that would not be so wise to do that, that it would probably be better to move that back until at least June one.
MR. COOK: Well, it's ‑‑ I guess, Mr. Henry, my ‑‑ it's a judgment call thing.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Yes. I know. I just want you to ‑‑
MR. COOK: Obviously, some of the campaigns have been campaigning right down there in that pink granite building as we speak. As I mentioned, the funding for the Nimitz bonds came to the surface last night. And so those kinds of things are happening all the time. I think it's ‑‑ I think the folks involved and interested in the Sheldon project need to know, though, that that's the kind of thing that's going on.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Well, we're talking about private and foundation and corporate money here, but to solicit in the face of a cutback here and nothing happening in a sense would ‑‑ could be somewhat deceitful. And I don't want to do anything that would hurt that.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: What is your ‑‑ what was your time table for starting, anyway?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Well, we were looking at May 1. Let me just tell you real quickly what ‑‑
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Well, what I was going to ‑‑ before you go ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: If I were you, I mean I ‑‑ this is ‑‑ you prepared this really as part of that effort. Right?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Uh-huh.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: I think you ought to go ahead, because if it turns out that the funding gets changed, you can always shut it down and return the money, or whatever. I don't think it's deceptive to proceed on something like this, as much work as has been put into it.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Yes. I'd hate to do that.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: And ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HENRY: We've got half-a-million dollars of yesterday's dollars ‑‑ money that's already in here that has been working.
MR. BORUFF: Could I make a comment, Commissioner Henry?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Scott, please.
MR. BORUFF: The money that was allocated for Sheldon was all allocated in the first tranche or the first issuance, and it was $2.58 million as I recall. A large portion of that money has already been committed through contractual obligations.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: That's what I was asking a little earlier.
MR. BORUFF: And we will get the exact number for you. I guess where I'm at on that in my advice is that you move forward, because I think we're going to have ‑‑ the majority of that $2.58 million will be relatively safe because it's already committed through contractual obligations.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: That was my question.
MR. BORUFF: And, you know, if some piece of that happens to get pulled away, I think it will be relatively small, which you, hopefully, will be able to make up in your fund-raising efforts, anyway. So my advice is that you move forward with that.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Well, let me just take ‑‑ if I may, Madam Chairman, because this is something that I've gotten real support from Bob and Scott and the staff on this ‑‑ and the Chair. And Joseph came down to talk about this awhile back, let me tell you exactly just where we are.
We have been working with Lydia and her crew and with the foundation ‑‑ the campaign will be conducted technically through the foundation ‑‑ to build this Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center. Through the foundation, we received a grant to hire a project coordinator, if you will, who will conduct all of the clerical activities and do all the coordination of sending us different places, the appointments and the whole list of things that you have to do there.
We have recruited an outstanding group of people to work on this, and I just wanted to tell you a little bit. Some of them you know. We have four former commissioners who agreed to help us: Terry Hershey, Carol Dinkins, Nolan Ryan and John Kelsey. Nolan even wrote me a letter and called me to say that although he's moving to Round Rock, when he can if he's ‑‑ when he's in Houston, he'll help, he'll write letters, he'll make some telephone calls, et cetera. With Carol and others, it's the same thing.
I've asked and Elizabeth Ghrist ‑‑ Liz Ghrist [phonetic] has agreed to co-chair this effort for me. For most of you who don't know her, she was a ‑‑ she's a very close friend of the Bush family. In fact, when they had the economic summit, she was the only woman to serve on that executive committee. She's a former commissioner in Harris County. She has chaired campaigns for the United Way, the Urban League, the Red Cross and the Center for the Retarded.
Currently, she's chairing a $65 million campaign for Saint Thomas University. And she's just all excited about Sheldon and agreed to co-chair this along with me.
Ophelia Vanden Borsh [phonetic] ‑‑ she was Governor Bush's executive secretary ‑‑ is on board with us. And we're all really excited about that. And so is Felix Fraga, who's a ‑‑ I used to work with Felix. He's a former city councilman and former school board member and from one of the outstanding families and is probably one of the best known people there.
The four of us have agreed to form an executive committee, an advisory committee, if you will, to do ‑‑ to meet often and do the planning, the speed work, et cetera, and to call in these others as needed for specific appearances, projects, letters, et cetera.
Felix Cook, who was the deputy superintendent of schools in Houston, is working with us, as is Jerry Pate, who has Pate Engineering Company. His ‑‑ some of his people worked on the master plan.
We have Eileen Lawal, who is the wife of the largest black-owned business operation in the Houston area. And a real coup ‑‑ we asked Jack Blanton, who just left the board of Houston Endowment that he had chaired for a number of years. And he has agreed to come on to help us with the Sheldon campaign. Houston Endowment contributed a half-million dollars to the campaign a little while back, and Jack assures me that we'll get more from Houston Endowment from that group.
We had intended to close this off last week and to start to print the stationery. And we have ‑‑ the people that I mentioned to you who are coordinating this have been doing a lot of work in getting information on various foundations. We've met twice to go over the list to refine it, to see where we go first and in what order, or what have you, going first to the private foundation community.
And then, based on developments in the market and et cetera, we'll be going later to the corporate foundation community. All of us know what the situation is. This isn't the best time for anybody to try to raise money, but we're going to try to target our shots at the best possible times, and we've got some people who know all about this.
Dick Bartlett and the advisory committee have been made generally aware ‑‑ Dick's a pistol. I ‑‑ he calls me more often than I want to talk to him sometimes, but the guy's got all kind of, you know, enthusiasm and good advice. And he has got some people chairing some committees. I'm not going to comment, because one of the spouses is around, but he has got some dynamite co-chairmen who are going to kick all of us, you know, into making things happen here, and they, too ‑‑ a number of them have agreed to assist in this effort.
We're going to ‑‑ this is the document that has been prepared ‑‑ and Lydia's people were so helpful in all of this ‑‑ to help get the word out as to what it's all about, what we're trying to do, why we're trying to do it and the cost information attached thereto. And I think they just did an outstanding job on this.
And everybody I've showed it to ‑‑ I just went by George Strake's office a few days ago and ‑‑ because he had promised us some money and he said he was going to up that. But he looked at this, and he and everybody that has seen it just thinks it's great.
So we were shooting for May 1, as I mentioned, for our first round of contacts. And our first ‑‑ I'm going to be devoting a lot of time to this and am going to make 100 percent of the presentations if I can or as many as possible.
The group had asked me to sort of lead this charge, and we're going to fill in with them as we go: Who knows who; Who's the best person to go talk to; Who needs to write a letter; Who needs to sign the letter, et cetera.
We're trying to do it in a such a way ‑‑ we've got several people here who have been doing this for a number of years and who have done it extremely well. And nobody in Houston has done it any better than Liz Ghrist for the past 20 years ‑‑ nobody, hands down. She has been the leader in fund-raising, and particularly in the nonprofit or not-for-profit community in the Houston area. And I was just delighted that she agreed to go with us on this.
And all of these people that I've mentioned that have come on board are really excited about it and looking forward to it. So I don't want to do anything ‑‑ that's what I was wanting to be sure of and get your advice ‑‑ that's going to put any hindrance.
We know that we're going to have to go back on more than one occasion. Given the nature of the foundation community's handling of requests at different times through the year, given the nature of what's happening with the stock market and other kinds of things, we wanted to go for May 1 and probably again for October 1.
So ‑‑ and we know we can't do this all in one fell swoop. We're going to hit it hard twice and follow up, hopefully, next spring. But it can't be just an extended campaign. We don't have the money to do that, literally. So we've got to make the best use we can of the money that the foundation has granted us.
And as I indicated to the Chairman and the chairman of the foundation when we talked a little while back, certainly, down the line, we're going to have to hit ourselves in the head and come back for some other funds to do some follow-up and some resubmissions.
So that's basically where we are, but I think it's ‑‑ as you see from the materials, it's a heck of a good project. And as we were saying, the market a little earlier ‑‑ we think and thought all along of it as a prototype, if you will, for outreach and education and for programs of this nature for the state. And although it's Houston this time, it'll be San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth area and probably, hopefully, the western part of the state, as well.
But we're going to give it our best shot. And I'm going to give it my very best. I'm cutting off some other activities that I'm involved in so I can spend the kind of time it takes to do this, and it's going to take a lot of time. But we're going to ‑‑ just going to see how good we are.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Well, Al, after hearing you, I think you ought to go ahead and start in May.
COMMISSIONER AVILA: I think he's already started.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Well, I may be calling on various ones of you for any help. But if you see any help you can give us or any ideas that you have, please feel free to offer.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I want to point out to my fellow Commissioners that I think ‑‑ I can't remember which report it was now. I think it was the business practices report that said that any major initiative by the Commission or the Department along these lines must have the support of a committed commissioner.
And, Commissioner Henry, I think you fit that description with Sheldon Lake. I have no doubt that you will complete it successfully and that we will have a first-class education center for the children of Houston.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: We're going to give it our best shot. And I'm so glad that Lee Bass is here today, because it was his discussion with ‑‑ he, Nolan and I, I guess, had the initial discussion that started the ball rolling. They got this going. And with you making it a permanent committee and getting behind it and, like I said, with Bob and, particularly, Scott and Lydia and the staff, it has just been a ‑‑ you know, they told me this was going to be fun. And it has been fun. And I think we're going to really kick the fun into high gear come May 1 ‑‑
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Right.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: ‑‑ or thereabouts.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Right. Well, good work. And I'd say don't way until the end of May; go on and do your deal.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: And with that, Madam Chairman, we will ask for a motion to close the committee meeting.
COMMISSIONER AVILA: So move.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Before adjourning this meeting, I wish I could say ‑‑ I should have said this earlier. I'll say it again tomorrow just so I can get a few more people. I want to compliment Coastal Fisheries, the leadership of Hal Osburn and Paul Hammerschmidt, on our absolutely lovely lobby. I think those fish look terrific not just our here but in the back lobbies, as well. They're colorful; they're beautiful and a reminder, again, of all the fabulous things we have in this state. And I love the new exhibit.
MR. OSBURN: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: So thank you all.
The meeting's adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 3:45 p.m., this meeting was concluded.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: April 2, 2003
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731
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