Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee
Jan. 28, 2004Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 28th day of January, 2004, 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 Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
- Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas, Chairman
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, 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
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. HENRY: The first order of business is the committee minutes, which have been already distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
MR. MONTGOMERY: Move for approval.
MR. HOLMES: Second.
MR. HENRY: Any opposed?
MR. HENRY: Hearing none, the motion carries.
Now for the Chairman's Charges, Mr. Cook, if you would make that presentation, please.
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. I have a couple of — as you'll see by your notes, just a couple of major charges associated with the Outreach Committee. Number one, primarily to ensure the development and continued progress under Sheldon Environmental Learning Center, as we've had some discussion about today. And number two, to effectively implement the outreach, education, and interpretation of the strategic plan that we had been working on with several of our constituents for several months, and are continuing to refine that.
So those are the two primary charges in that area. And again, if you have suggestions or comments on the charges, we would welcome those. Thank you, sir.
MR. HENRY: Thank you. Ms. Michelle Haggerty, Texas Master Naturalist Program. Ms. Haggerty will make a presentation.
MR. HALL: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Steve Hall. I'm the Education Director for Parks and Wildlife, and I'd like to introduce Michelle Haggerty. She's the Master Naturalist Coordinator for the state. This is part of our effort of the strategic planning process to bring you a program each and every meeting to certainly enlighten you on the status of that program, where it's been, where it's going, and certainly the kinds of things that are in a program charter that give you the details, so that you are fully knowledgeable of all the different types of programs that we're doing.
The Master Naturalist Program is one of the models, and it's such a model that recently they've adopted a national program, and Michelle is here to tell you all about that.
MS. HAGGERTY: As Steve said, my name is Michelle Haggerty. I am the State Coordinator for the Texas Master Naturalist Program based out of College Station. And I am going to present to you today the Texas Master Naturalist Program, not only as one of the banner programs for an outreach program of the department, but also as a strategy that we've developed to develop master volunteers for natural resource conservation and management in Texas.
The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a natural resource-based volunteer training and development program sponsored statewide both by Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Cooperative Extension. The mission of our program is to develop a core of well-trained master volunteers who can provide outreach service and education for the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within Texas. We see this mission as not only being broad enough that both of our agencies can identify with it — Parks and Wildlife and Extension — but also we have several partnering organizations at our local levels with our local chapters that can identify with the mission as well.
We have three primary program goals. The first is to improve public understanding of natural resource ecology and management. We believe that we're addressing this goal, or reaching this goal, by the training that we're providing our volunteers, and also through the service and training that they are providing their peers out in the communities.
Our second goal is to enhance existing natural resource education and outreach activities. Again, we believe we're reaching this goal by not only providing the service that the volunteers provide and the training that is provided of the volunteers.
And then our third goal is to develop a Master Naturalist network that is eventually self-sufficient.
We are a fairly new program within Texas Parks and Wildlife. Our first Master Naturalist chapter started as a prototype chapter in San Antonio, and shortly after that, we spawned our second chapter in the North Texas area, in Dallas. And shortly after that, in the spring of 1998, we saw a lot of interest from other volunteers and agency personnel across the state that were interested in developing a Master Naturalist chapter in their local area.
That's when we established what we call our Statewide Advisory Committee that provides some overall consistency, program guidelines and policies for the statewide program.
Summer of 1999, we had our first statewide local coordinators training. And then I came on later in 1999 as the first program coordinator, and we recently just celebrated our fifth anniversary.
The basics of the Master Naturalist Program — it is a certification program, and we require our volunteers to gain a minimum of 40 hours of training, a basic combined field and classroom experience, a minimum of eight hours of advanced training, and then 40 hours of volunteer service, is what we require of them to gain certification within their first year of involvement in the program. To maintain their certification each year after that, we ask that they again provide 40 hours of service and obtain eight hours of advanced training annually.
Our basic training covers — again, that's that 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction — it covers present day and historical naturalists. Our volunteers learn that our historical naturalists in Texas were great note-takers. They were observers, they were experimenters and teachers. And those are the things that they can master as a Master Naturalist.
They learn about traditional naturalist disciplines such as ornithology, geology, dendrology. They learn about land management and land use history, ecological concepts such as, what is a species, what is a population, what does it mean to restore? And the ecoregions of Texas. First they get a broad overview of the ecoregions of Texas, and then their training specifically in their local area focuses on their local ecoregions within their chapter.
We give them information on management of natural systems such as wood lot management, wetland management, rangeland management, and then interpretation and communication, because we not only want them to know the information, but we also want them to be able to help relay that information back to their peers and public as well.
There is an advanced training component. Again, that's a minimum of eight hours of advanced training. And what we really would like to see happen with this advanced training is, our volunteers come and they get their 40 hours of training. It's a very broad, basic, natural resource interpretation, function and management. We like them to use this advanced training component as a time for them to pick an area of specific interest of theirs, and then get more information and training on that, in hopes of being a better volunteer in that specific area.
An example of this advanced training component might be our volunteers participating in the Texas Nature Tracker's Program, which is also a part of the Master Naturalist Program, where, in that program, a volunteer would learn about a specific species, i.d., habitat monitoring in management, and with the intent that this volunteer would dedicate this service towards the monitoring and management activities for that specific species.
We require 40 hours of volunteer service from our volunteers annually. Their volunteer projects can be self-directed, self-developed. They can be coordinated through their local chapters. They can consist of opportunities provided by local partners within the chapters, and take advantage of the individual's skills. So if a volunteer has a specific skill in nature photography, they might use that skill to develop a plants guide or a bird guide for a local nature trail or nature center.
And there's also several other examples. Black Land Prairie Restoration Projects in North Texas, Hays County Road Kill Survey, and other spotlight surveys that are conducted with the department. Several of our volunteers participated in local speakers bureaus, and prescribed fire management.
Other project examples that take place across the state throughout our chapters are Wild Scapes Maintenance and Demonstration areas. Our volunteers conduct interpretive tours at parks and nature centers. Construction of interpretive trails at parks and nature centers. Brush and exotic plant control, fish, wildlife and plant inventory. A lot of our volunteers participate in native plant seed collections and rescues. Natural resource youth camps such as Texas Brigades, where our volunteers participate as instructors or youth mentors. And the stream bank marsh and prairie restorations.
When I first came to this program in 1999, we had just four chapters in the state. Since then, in the first three years of the program, the program doubled in size every year. We're currently at 27 chapters, and we gain anywhere from six to eight new chapters across the state annually.
And I have to apologize for the data on these next couple of slides. Our project reporting runs on the calendar year, and I'm just in the process right now of obtaining all the information from our chapters statewide. So these are 2002's annual report data, which you have in front of you also. But the numbers you see here are actually much higher based off of the 2003 data that's coming in right now.
We have trained well over 2,000 volunteers currently. Those volunteers have provided over 163,500 hours of volunteer service amounting to more than $2.7 million. They have made an impact on over 340,750 youth, adults and private landowners through their service projects. They've made an impact on more than 29,450 acres of habitat through their management projects. They've partnered with over 240 organizations through their service projects and developing their chapters. The program has been awarded over 14 national, international, state and local awards for our efforts. And we even had a volunteer discover a plant new to science a couple of years ago.
To give you an example of some of the awards and recognition the program has had, the Wildlife Management Institute's Presidents 2000 award. We've had two volunteers recognized as Texas Parks and Wildlife Lone Star Legend Volunteers. The Texas A&M University Vice-Chancellor's Award of Excellence in Partnership; the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Environmental Excellence Award; and the National Audubon Society's Habitat Heroes Award.
I just recently completed a program assessment with a Master student, and we looked at several things for the program. One was the demographics of our volunteers. And a typical volunteer for the Texas Master Naturalist Program is either male or female — we are pretty much 50-50 split on that participation; between the ages of 40 and 59; they currently work; they're highly educated, with at least a bachelor's or advanced degree; and the majority of the, over 80 percent, are small acreage landowners or urban-suburban dwellers.
We also looked at volunteer motivations — why they come to the program, why they're involved in the program. Most of our volunteers indicated that they wanted to learn more about natural resources, and then they also saw the program as a mechanism for them to be able to provide more back into their community, and do something good for natural resources.
We also looked at knowledge gained as a result of the training that we're providing our volunteers. And what we did is, we tested our volunteers prior to their first day of training, we tested them at the last day of training, and then six months after their training we sent another test to their home. And what we found is our volunteers were — they scored about 57.4 percent before coming into the training, and that was the percent correct on their test. And compared to their comparison group, the comparison group scored about 49, 48 percent.
Their post-test right after the training, we saw a 15.2 percent gain in knowledge. And then that second post-test which was sent six months after the training, we saw another 1.1 percent gain in knowledge, and I attribute that to the advanced training component of the program, and also putting into action what they've learned through some of their volunteer service.
We also looked at attitude change, specifically towards management practices and consumptive management practices. And as a result of the training, there was a significant change more favorable towards management practices in Texas.
We looked at the training effectiveness, and the most impressive figure from the training effectiveness was that we found over 97 percent of our volunteers indicated that the training motivated them more to become active and enthusiastic volunteers, and motivated them to volunteer right after their training or during their training.
And what we also found was that about 82 to 88 percent of our volunteers continue — have reached volunteer certification, meaning that either they are conducting or have conducted all of their 40 hours of service during their first year of involvement in the program. And compare that to typical, any other typical volunteer program across the country. What we see is about 60 to 65 percent volunteer involvement. So I was very surprised by that figure.
I always get asked, what is my vision for the future of the Master Naturalist Program? Texas is the first state to have a Master Naturalist Program, and we've had a lot of interest from other states in wanting to develop a Master Naturalist Program. And so much interest that we were able to obtain a federal grant to hold a national training to develop a Master Naturalist Program nationally, and we will be doing that next month in February.
And I always get asked, what about our junior component, or our youth component to the Master Naturalist Program? And so we do have hopes in the future of developing a youth component to this program, as it is an adult program right now.
I'd be happy to take any questions.
MR. HENRY: Thank you. Are there any questions or any discussion by the Commission?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any breakdown of the geographic distribution of those 2,000 training volunteers?
MS. HAGGERTY: You might want to take a look in the report there — Where our chapters exist.
MR. FITZSIMONS: But you're getting into urban areas. That's good.
MS. HAGGERTY: More than 80 percent were from urban areas.
MR. PARKER: Michelle, you indicated that you had been in contact with the Texas Brigade System?
MS. HAGGERTY: Uh-huh.
MR. PARKER: Can you talk to Helen about the possibility of integrating that into the Texas Brigade?
MS. HAGGERTY: Yes.
MR. PARKER: I think that would just be fantastic.
MS. HAGGERTY: We do offer the opportunity for our volunteers to become involved, and I also am a committee member of one of the Brigade's committees.
MR. PARKER: Great.
MR. COOK: Commissioners, I'd just like to add that I think all we need is about one more Michelle and we'll pretty well cover all of Texas and most of the nation. She's done a great job on this project. This is the kind of thing that we talk about actually putting on the ground and putting into effect. And Michelle has done a great job of it. A lot of people helping. It is gaining momentum, and I thought it was important that you folks hear about this, know about this, and be aware that it's available.
MR. HENRY: Any other questions or comment?
MR. HENRY: Thank you, Ms. Haggerty. We appreciate it.
Mr. Hall, are you going to continue with the rest on the education report?
MR. HALL: Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Steve Hall, Education Director for the record. I have with me right now Terry Erwin, the Hunter Education Coordinator for Texas, and we're going to present to you today a Hunter Education proposal that addresses a lot of the talk we've had lately, especially at two forums — one, the Future of Hunting Plan, and the next one being the Hunting Heritage Symposium in Houston in December. Lots of action items, lots of strategies, things that we want to sink our teeth into as well in the Hunter Education effort here at the department.
Before we do that, I'd like to go over a few facts about our Hunter Education Program in Texas, and then Terry — turn it over to him for the proposal that he has put on the table in terms of trying to make it more convenient to our customers.
First of all, hunter education, in two words — it works. It has reduced accidents nationally by more than 50 percent, and this is significant obviously in a lot of components, in terms of firearm safety, making hunting one of the safest outdoor activities. It's increased compliance in some studies upwards of 30 to 40 percent, and obviously that helps in terms of law enforcement efforts.
It's improved our image and the image of hunting, and this is probably the most important component as we head into the future, in terms of what a non-hunter might expect of the hunting constituency. The most successful conservation education program in North America. It's over 50 years old. It started in 1949 in New York, a mandatory program. And since then, all states now have a mandatory program. And like Michelle's program, it is also a volunteer-led and assisted effort, advocates for this agency as they go around the state of Texas.
Hunter education is not a barrier to hunting. We've heard this a lot, at least in the symposium and other forums in terms of hunter education being a barrier. The data by responsive management clearly show that it's not a barrier. It does represent a barrier of two percent, but it also recruits hunters to the tune of 2 percent.
But more importantly, 93 percent of non-hunters and 89 percent of active hunters support such training prior to them meeting other hunters in the woods, perhaps, as active hunters or non-hunters just expect simply that hunters are safe as they go about in the outdoors.
The youth hunting program involvement that we've had is a great model in Texas, both the youth hunting program, but an active hunter education role in that program. This photo comes to you from the Faulkner Ranch youth hunt that we had several weeks back, and most of you that have been involved with that program, the eighth annual, it just really shows how it can work and how effective it can work, especially for targeted groups. It does reduce landowner liability, both in the youth hunting program and abroad in terms of the counties. Hunter skills courses and live-firing activities are included in the youth hunting programs, as a result of hunter education. It does enhance hunting recruitment, and we hear a lot from the moms that may not attend the hunt, but they're sure happy that hunter education activities are included in those kinds of first-time hunts.
And then finally the image in terms of the future opportunities for youth hunting programs. As I said, it is mandatory in all 50 states, so reciprocity is a huge issue with us. Also, the standards — the International Hunter Education Association standards. We currently comply with those standards. We actually helped develop those standards, took the lead on that on behalf of North America.
And the important component that we see in terms of reciprocity is all other state laws do impact our Texas hunters. An example of that is the 24,000 hunters we send to Colorado each year, and the law that they have to comply with, which is those born on or after January 1 of '49. So we send a lot of hunters up to Colorado that need to take hunter education here, of course, before they depart on their Colorado trip.
And finally here in Texas, our grandfather date is set up. By statute, it's September 2nd of 1971. Anyone born on or after that date is required to have it. Also by rule is a ten-hour training, and this is more in line with the federal aid standards that were developed that send federal aid dollars to the states for these kinds of programs.
One thing we've done in Texas is we've taken the lead on home study approaches and Internet approaches. And currently, out of the ten hours, about six hours can be gained at home or over the Internet or through a home study package. And a minimum of four hours is spent with skill objectives, which are mostly hands-on live firing and hunter skills testing, which we do in a station-by-station, hands-on approach.
Every county offers courses. That's by statute. Forty-four hundred courses this past year, and that's pretty much the average over the last ten years, as is the 33,000 certifications. And as Michelle kind of alluded to in terms of the volunteer match, it's incredible — over $500,000 annually just in actual teaching of volunteer labor. That doesn't include the preparation time.
And finally we do see that the Internet course objectives, the knowledge objectives gained over the Internet, that students are using that more and more, and that is rising, and that's predictable in today's society. And again, like Michelle, we've got a 95 percent satisfaction rate after the course, and that's extremely high in terms of national programs.
In Texas you are not required to have it if you are under 12, but you are required to be with a licensed hunter 17 years of age and older. Between the ages of 12 through 16, you get an either-or situation. You can either be with the adult, or you can take the course if you have to hunt alone, or be put in the stand at that time.
And then finally age 17 or older, you have to have the course. So you have essentially a five-year window to go and try to find a course, get the course, get the training, and use it as a tool for safe and responsible hunting.
And finally in Texas — and probably the reason we're one of the most flexible laws and adaptable laws in the country — it's kind of like defensive driving, that if you did get a citation, you do have ten days with the JP to appeal it and 90 days to find a course, and we've never really had a problem finding someone a course after they've been given a citation.
So with that, I'll turn it over to Terry, and he's got a Temporary Hunter Education Exemption Proposal for you that deals with that 17 years of age and older category.
MR. ERWIN: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, my name is Terry Erwin. I am your Hunter Education Coordinator statewide and I have a proposal that I think you'll like. It's called the Temporary Hunter Education Exemption, and it applies to those born after September 2 of 1971, whoever reached the age of 17. How many times have you wanted to take someone hunting, they were already 17, and didn't get a chance to do that? This exemption will apply to that.
It's for those that are all the way up to about 32 years of age this year. And you can go in and apply for this one-time exemption. Those under 17 are already covered under the law, as Steve Hall said. It is a recruitment tool. We have a lot of times people who want to come in from out of state. They get an invite from someone and they don't get a chance to come because, oh gee, I haven't met the hunter education requirements. Perhaps they weren't required to have it in their state, but they are required to have it in Texas, and it would apply to those individuals.
It would apply to non-residents, especially those that are in the military. They're serving our country and they're stationed in Texas. Those people in the military, if they didn't take hunter ed in their respective state, they want to hunt here in our state, then this would apply to them. But it would be just for the duration of the license year. And we hope that during that time, they would get the hunter education course like they're supposed to have.
What about those of our own people that are residents of the state that have joined the military and have gone off to serve our country, and all of a sudden they get a chance to come home for the holidays. Gee, they didn't take it before they left, and now Dad or Uncle Bill wants to take them hunting. They can't go, but now they can.
We're going to implement, if possible, a manual system of issuing these exemptions, where they will be procured through any Parks and Wildlife department law enforcement office, and there's 28 of those offices. They'll have to purchase a license in order to get this exemption. Well, that's going to sell us some licenses right there, which we're deeply interested in. They have to either have already purchased a license or be required to buy one before they can get the exemption.
That exemption will expire at the end of that current license year, and that could be up to a whole year if they got the exemption right at the beginning of the season.
One of the additional things is that applicant must be with a licensed hunter who is at least 17 years of age or older, which is the same current exemption we have for those under 17. That person that accompanies that applicant must show proof of hunter education, which is required now by them, or be exempt because of their birth date being before September 2, '71.
If we can get it into a point of sale system, then they would be able to purchase this exemption at any point of sale throughout the whole state of Texas, and there's probably 3,500 point of sale vendors out there. Currently, if you have hunter education by your date of birth, September 2, '71, and you go to buy a license, it prints on there your hunter ed number if you're in our system. If you're not in our system, then it will print, Hunter education is required.
This temporary exemption would print, Temporary hunter education, right under that Hunter ed required. That way, if they take it and a game warden checks them, they have that as proof that they have that exemption.
The other requirements would be they have to have a photo i.d. to purchase the license, and likewise to have the exemption.
The applicant fee would be a $10 charge. They would purchase that right along with the license. The current hunter education course fee is $10. That's by mandate. And what we'd like to do is, if these individuals get this exemption, we'd like to have an opportunity to give them a discount to come and take their hunter ed course prior to the end of that license year. So if that's the case, then we'll offer it at a discounted price of $5, and they merely present that exemption to the hunter ed instructor at that time.
If you approve this, we would like permission to publish it in Chapter 55 with the rules and regulations after the committee has met on this.
In essence, I think it's a fantastic thing that's going to come about. And in summary, as Steve said, we have the most flexible hunter ed law in North America. From 12 to 16, you have an opportunity to hunt or get certified. This extends that beyond that. And if you want to invite a client or a relative or someone in from out of state, and they don't have hunter ed in their state, it would apply to them.
It actually allows us to be on the cutting edge of recruitment and hunter education, and we're leading that right now. And I might say that I am the president-elect of the International Hunter Ed Association. So Texas doesn't sit back on its laurels.
Right now I'd invite any questions.
MR. HENRY: Are there any questions or comments?
MR. HOLMES: I think it's a great idea. I'm pleased to see it.
MR. MONTGOMERY: Just a quick comment. I was concerned based on comments I had about the barrier into that. I appreciate, one, the data and the sincere effort to make this possible. I think it's a great move. Appreciate it.
MR. ERWIN: Thank you, sir.
MR. HENRY: John?
MR. PARKER: With regard to the military, that Texas resident military career guy that qualifies under
this — he could only hunt one time on his leave?
MR. ERWIN: No, he could hunt numerous times on his leave, and it would be good for that whole calendar year of that license, so if he got to come back in the spring, he would get to hunt again.
MR. PARKER: Okay, but after that —
MR. ERWIN: He would need to take the hunter ed course. And the rationale behind that, sir, is if he were to ever move out of the state and be stationed in another state, their state laws might override ours, and it might even be more difficult for him to get it in that state. But we're offering that opportunity here.
And on a lot of military reservations, especially Fort Hood, the federal mandate overrules Texas. No matter what your age in Fort Hood, you have to have hunter ed to hunt on that reservation. So this is a real benefit for them.
Now, if we give them the exemption here and they're stationed at Fort Hood, for instance, and they hunt on Fort Hood, the federal mandate overrides that. They still have to take the course.
MR. FITZSIMONS: You pointed out where these exemptions would be available. I wasn't quite clear. Is it one stop, or not? In other words, when they go get their license, they can get the exemption there at the Wal-Mart or the Academy, or whatever?
MR. ERWIN: If we can incorporate in point of sale, yes, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right, so we're not sure about that yet?
MR. ERWIN: We're working on it right now.
MR. FITZSIMONS: That's a convenience issue. They don't have to go to our office and get the exemption.
MR. COOK: We're sure that we can do it at our office, but we're not absolutely positive yet that we can do it across the system. We're going to try to get that.
MR. HALL: We did meet with the license section last week, though, and it looks pretty good, or it looks pretty favorable. We can't say yes, but they're on the case as well.
MR. COOK: This would be effective next year.
MR. ERWIN: It would be effective beginning in August when we start our next set of sales, I think.
MR. COOK: Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED: If we choose to start at that date, yes, sir.
MR. HENRY: Any further question or discussion?
MR. HENRY: Without objection, I authorize staff to publish this item in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you very much.
MR. ERWIN: Thank you, sir.
MR. HENRY: Next Item 4 is the Expo Business Report. Mr. Ernie Gammage, please.
MR. GAMMAGE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ernie Gammage. I am Director of the Texas Wildlife Expo, and I'm also the branch chief of the Urban Outdoor Programs. And I'm here to discuss with you here today the business side of Expo also as it relates to our outreach efforts.
There is the logo for last year's event, and here we started off on October 4 for a great weekend in the outdoors. We had 36,000 visitors. Over the past 12 years, we have hosted almost a half a million people on our property and introduced the outdoors to them. The goal of the Texas Wildlife Expo is to encourage and increase participation in hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, and build awareness and support for the conservation of natural cultural and historic resources.
We do have an agenda at Expo. It is not just, "Come on down and see our facilities and do a little hunting, a little shooting, a little fishing and rock climbing." That's not what we're about. We hope that the people that come here, whether they are already our constituents or are not, will leave here with an appreciation of what we do and why we do it.
And how we do that is really hands-on. This is an opportunity to take kids especially — we had, of that 425,000 people that have come through our doors, about 40 percent of them are below the age of 17. Average age of a child who comes to Expo is eight years old. So we get a lot of kids through here. How do we get them engaged in the outdoors? We let them try it. We put a fishing pole in their hands. We put a bow and arrow in their hands. We put a air gun, we put a shotgun if they're old enough. We teach them how to put a camp up. We show them animals in the wild as they live in Texas, and talk about their habitat.
Of the other 50 percent of the folks who come to the event, or the 100 percent, about half of those are who we would call our constituents. And why do we engage them here? We want them to understand more deeply why we do what we do, and march them up that ladder to becoming stewards for the outdoors. We want them to improve their skill base. If they're birders, we want them to get interested in camping. If they fish, we'd like to introduce them to hunting. So it's a pretty broad agenda.
For the benefit of our new commissioners, also to sort of set the stage for some radical changes that happened last year at Expo, I'd like to cover with you real quickly what our fiscal and financial history has been.
Expo started in 1992 as a one-day event. We had 7,000 people. It was a no-cost program to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Our employees "volunteered" their time. We brought on sponsors that underwrote much of the expense, and we had partners such as CCA and TWA who came in and actually helped us to put on the activities and presentations of the event.
In 1998, Expo became a DBA of the Foundation — the Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas — and it really became a partnership event of our agency and the Foundation. The Operations account for the event was kept up in Dallas in the Foundation bank account. That year, we began to require staff to work Expo. That started out at four hours, went to eight hours, and is now up to 12 hours Expo weekend.
2003, which was last year, was the year really of big change. We parted ways with the Foundation in that Expo became a solely operated state event. Funds that were held in the Foundation were transferred to the State Treasury. We became a business unit of Texas Parks and Wildlife, a cost recovery enterprise solely run by this agency. And the Foundation's part of it really focused on Friday night at the Texas Conservation Banquet, which raises money to support TPWD programs.
What does Expo cost us? I know you've seen the Auditor's report for 2002. I'd like to take a look at 2003.
Revenue for Expo is generated from four sources. One is sponsorship money that we raise. We raised approximately $312,000 last year, cash. Exhibitor fees — we have approximately 200 exhibitors who pay money to come out and promote their services and products, merchandise that we sell — T-shirts, caps and so forth, and we also get a cut of the proceeds of concessions.
There are also two other assets that don't really hit the bottom line that you should be aware of. One is the tremendous volunteer support that we get for Expo. Last year we had over 1,300 volunteers who put in well over five or 6,000 hours Expo weekend.
The second is the in-kind contributions from our sponsors, and that equated to better than $164,000 in in-kind contributions last year.
On the expense side, there are really three items. One is, what do all these tents and port-o-potties and everything else cost out there? The actual event, production and promotion — how do we let the public know about this event?
The second part is the divisional cost. Phil Durocher decides what he wants the public to walk away with from the Inland Fisheries presentations at Expo. And his division may incur some expenses related to that. For example, Inland Fisheries may buy the trout or the catfish that kids will catch at Expo. There are actually, I believe, six divisions that put money into Expo in that regard.
And finally, there is the labor figure. What is the cost of those 12 hours for each one of the staff members who worked Expo? Let's look at what those figures are.
The total for Expo last year was barely a little over $1 million. Of that, on the plus side was $364,000 which we brought in as revenue from sponsorships, exhibitors, sales and so forth. The event production side cost us $354,000. Labor on behalf of Texas Parks and Wildlife, was right at $660,000, and then $57,000 was borne by the divisions, such as the fish that Phil might have bought.
That left a total net cost to the agency of $707,000. It should be noted that the revenue that Expo generates pretty much pays for its actual production and promotion. We have been very fortunate the last few years to actually turn — I hate to call this a profit, and I certainly won't because it simply rolls forward and has become our Operating money to move on into the next Expo. This past year we turned about $9,000 in that regard.
Of that total $707,000, $660,000 of that is labor. And let me describe for you what this labor is. This is not additional duty. These are not individuals who are doing this as additional assignments. This is part of their work day. In fact, many of the job postings now actually state that one of the things that you'll do is work at Expo if you work at Texas Parks and Wildlife.
$354,000 is recovered from Expo-generated revenue, and let me make a point here. This is not money that would go somewhere else. We earn this money because Expo exists, or because specific individuals and corporations want to support this event.
And finally, the $57,000 is borne by six divisions.
In closing, let me read to you part of a letter that I just got today that I think is very timely. This is from the Weatherby Foundation International. This is an organization that has been around for 40 or 50 years. And in recent years, they have turned their attention to the promotion nationwide of Expos like ours, because they believe that the future of hunting and conservation really lies in the hands of our youth. And by exposing, especially, our urban families and kids to these opportunities, we've got a chance really to turn the tide and re-introduce hunting and the notion of conservation to these new populations that are growing up. They have been a tremendous supporter of our event. And here's a letter I got from them today:
"Dear Mr. Gammage: We are pleased to inform you that the Weatherby Foundation International has awarded you a $5,000 grant for the production of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo in 2004."
I'll stop right there, and you'll notice that we are calling this in 2004 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo, and will from henceforth.
"We are very excited about your new initiatives to expand your outreach to minorities in your Expo programs. We regard your Expo as a model that is unique in the way you have tied it to your mentoring and urban outreach programs. Your agency is truly a leader in the multifacets of introducing and mentoring families in the great outdoors."
We get a lot of kids. Our focus has been, as this letter indicates, on urbanites and minorities and introducing them, re-introducing them sometimes, to the outdoors and the notion of conservation. We spend $707,000 net to us on this event, and it is our belief that it's worth it.
Have you got any questions or any comments that I can respond to?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Ernie, tell me the number again.
MR. GAMMAGE: For 2003 it was $707,868.
MR. FITZSIMONS: And 660,000 of that is labor that was part of the regular work week, right? So it's not overtime.
MR. GAMMAGE: No.
MR. FITZSIMONS: So how is it a cost?
MR. HOLMES: It's not.
MR. COOK: It's just an allocation.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yes, it's an allocation.
MR. COOK: We show them we do this instead of something else, and this is a good choice.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Because I understand that the Auditor considered this a cost. The Auditor's position was, we lost this money.
MR. GAMMAGE: Yes, sir. That is exactly what their position was.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, then, we lost all of our payroll.
MR. GAMMAGE: Yeah, they characterize it in their spreadsheet as a net loss.
MR. COOK: Folks, as you know, it is a wonderful event. Ernie Gammage, all of our staff, does an incredible job of this true outreach, education understanding about conservation, understanding about who we are. We have to deal with and address the concerns expressed by the Auditor, as we mentioned earlier today, and we will do so. We have been having that discussion. We think it is some of the best money that we spend for hunters and fishermen and outdoor folks in Texas.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Looks to me like you break even.
MR. HOLMES: Phil?
MR. MONTGOMERY: I assume we have, but have we looked at that to see if there is any particularly disproportionately large expenses that might help that number a little bit, but not make the program suffer if you conduct the value engineering review?
MR. GAMMAGE: Well, we like to think we run a very tight ship in terms of expenses. One of the things that, when we came into the Parks and Wildlife fold as a wholly run entity that we did for our Expo 2003, was to go through all of the regular state purchasing procedures, and actually, that ended up costing us money. We got better deals before we did that.
MR. COOK: One thing, Commissioner Montgomery, that I'd like to point out, starting a couple of years ago, and especially last year. One of the reasons that we have increased the number of hours, and have directed most of the labor — a lot of the labor — more of the labor, more of our time, to come from the Austin headquarters area. We are 100 percent involved in Expo, the people who are headquartered in Austin, Texas. That keeps our field people in the parks, on the WMAs, and from the travel expense.
So we felt like it was a good move, almost to the extent, I'll have to tell you — there's two sides to that story.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I heard —
MR. COOK: Almost to the extent that I probably overdid it. You know? Because the field people, the employees here — when these events are over, it never fails, probably the people who may benefit the most from Expo is our people who hear the comments from the people who come who love Expo, love what they see, love what they do, are surprised to learn that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the State of Texas cares about the things that they care about. It is an incredible benefit to every single employee to get that kind of feedback.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I have heard from several who were almost wistful. They weren't complaining to me as Commissioner, they were kind of wistful they didn't get to come, because they enjoy seeing everybody, they hear about what's going on. It's got a good —
MR. COOK: I'm going to have to go back and balance that.
MR. HENRY: In 2001, I had the privilege of chairing Expo, and we adopted as our theme Urban Outreach. And we particularly focused on the Houston area. And I think it's fair to say there was a significant focus on getting African-American youth involved. And we were very successful. I'm going to refer to that just a little later.
The following year, my friend Mark Watson chaired the activity, and he focused on San Antonio, and with particular emphasis on the Hispanic community. He adopted some really great ideas getting P.R. people from that area involved with specific emphasis on that market, and just did a great job of getting kids in. And that's been a following trend, and the letters that I received from it are some that I even go back and read occasionally from little kids who were just so excited about coming, that had never seen many of the things that we talk about here all the time. It's a great activity.
When I read the Auditor's report, I was just amazed as to how they categorized some of the things as they likely did. But I think it's one of the outstanding activities that this organization puts on. So I would hope that we would not only continue to do so, but to build on it by year, and just carry it forward. And Ernie, I'd like to commend you as I know Mark would, for doing just an outstanding job. Highly appreciate it.
MR. GAMMAGE: Thank you, sir. It's a team effort in the broadest possible sense.
MR. HENRY: Any other questions or comment?
MR. HENRY: Ernie, thank you again for being here.
MR. GAMMAGE: Thanks.
MR. HENRY: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I'd like to just briefly report to this Commission, as I promised I would, on the Sheldon campaign. And Gene, you have those things. Just give them to everybody, please.
I'd just like, without taking too much time, to let you know that the campaign is progressing. We are visiting foundations in the Houston community. We've got the last major one scheduled for the week after next, after which we'll go up to the second tier, which are about 50 smaller foundations, some of which we will visit in person, others which we will contact. The monies have begun to come in. We've had very favorable visits with the larger ones, and we think we're going to get significant monies coming from there. That spring listings and hearings and granting procedures.
So I wanted just to say to our new commissioners, I mentioned this activity this morning. This ties to that oil bid that we were talking about a little earlier, that would go toward this particular campaign. It's something that I'm extremely excited about, and so are those that worked with us. You met Rob this morning from the foundation that works with us. And Bob and Scott and the staff have been extremely helpful here, and we wouldn't do what we can do without Mary Talley-Pope. She's been a godsend to us.
And Bob, when we first met, you asked the question to what extent she would be involved in fundraising, actual fundraising. And I think I misspoke at that time, because all of us, and well, she is extremely involved with that on a daily basis, on a detail basis, making arrangements, setting appointments, all of the clerical work associated. And we're going to need her help for a while to push this thing through.
We hope to take it through 2004 and wrap it in the spring of 2005. These are our present plans, and we hope to wrap it with some sort of gala activity. We haven't decided on one yet, but the committee is scheduled to meet I believe, on the 14th of February, where we will make some decisions in that regard. We have a seven-person steering committee, and a large 23-person support committee, and we are really excited about it, and it's moving forward very well.
I don't know if Steve is going to mention this or not, but Sheldon Lake was in danger of losing its lake, and we think we have solved at least the beginning of that problem. And one of our committee members happens to — she says sleep with, she's married to a head of public works for the city, and was able to arrange a meeting with Steve and the head of public works, and a couple of others to work out a contract for water with the area bodies. And Steve, is that set now? We were trying to finish everything before the last mayor left, and the City Council, so we wouldn't have to start all over again.
MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir, it's been done. The contract executed by the city. It's on Bob's desk for our final approval, which we don't anticipate any problems and it will be a done deal. We'll have that supplemental water from the west canal toward Sheldon Lake.
MR. HENRY: That's great.
MR. WHISTON: It's a great coup for us.
MR. HENRY: That's great. As soon as that's finished, please let me know. I want to send a few people a few thank you notes in that regard. So thank you on that.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to just take a moment and let the Commission know about something that's definitely closely related to this. The week before Christmas, I attended a reception in Houston for a Johnny Jones, who was TPWD's Outreach Coordinator in the Houston area. When we decided to get heavily involved in regional outreach, Johnny Jones was the first Outreach Coordinator hired in the Houston area. He discovered not long after that, frankly, that he had liver cancer, and has been working through that since that time.
He's a fine young man. He has been very active in the Houston community, general area, and was very successful in addressing the outreach needs of the agency and many facets of that community. He understood that outreach meant going out and getting new people and bringing them in to the tent, and he did that very well with kids. There were several incidents that I could mention, but I won't because of the time, but I would just like for you to know that this guy was recognized by the Houston Active Medical Council for his work with kids at risk. He was honored by, of all people, the Texas Buddhist Association, for the work that he did in getting kids from the Asian communities involved in outreach programs.
But what was most impressive at the reception dinner that I mentioned — this was organized by a young man who was a teacher at HISD that Johnny had worked with. His name was Cecario Guerrero. And Steve, there was 50 — Ernie, 75 people there for dinner just to be with this guy and to speak kind words about him. And at the close of the program, I walked up to the guy and I said, Who's paying for this? Let me help offset some of the expenses. And he said, No, Commissioner, this is something that we wanted to do for Johnny.
Johnny resigned at the end of December. He has inoperable liver cancer. The prospects are not good for him. He's a fine young man. He did an extremely fine job for us.
When I chaired Expo, I said to him that I'd like to get Houston kids in, and I'm going to raise some money to bring them in here on buses. Can you help me get 500 kids to bring in here. And he said, Yes, sir. And a week later he told me, Let's move it to 1,000. And a week later, he said, Let's move it to 1,500. And a little later, he said, Can you do 1,800? He ended up busing approximately 2,000 kids from the greater Houston area in here for Expo in 2001, and this was largely as a result of his activities.
This is the kind of guy he was, and I wanted to just to mention this to you, and I would like to ask Mr. Cook if he would, for his family, do something by way of letter or resolution just to let him know that we appreciate the work that he's done. Because he really exemplified what I believe Outreach was all about, and did a real service for this agency and for the greater Houston community.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask if there is any other business to be brought before the committee. Mr. Cook?
MR. COOK: I believe that's it.
MR. HENRY: Fine. There being none, I turn it back to the Chairman.
(Whereupon, the 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: January 28, 2004
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 44, 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