Outreach and Education Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, January 23, 2008

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Land and Water Plan Update
    Staff: Robert Cook
  2. Texas Nature Tracker Program
    Staff: Marsha May
  3. Texas Service Learning Project
    Staff: Nancy Herron
  4. Texas Buffalo Soldiers 2008 & Beyond
    Staff: Ken Pollard
  5. Texas Brigades Program
    Staff: Linda Campbell

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Robert L. Cook

Outreach and Education Committee
Land and Water Plan Update
January, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Robert L. Cook will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency's efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the Plan).

II. Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wild. Code §11.104). In November 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. The Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Robert L. Cook will update the Finance Committee on TPWD's recent progress in achieving the Plan's Goals and Objectives as they relate to the Outreach and Education Committee.

The Plan consists of 8 Goals and a total of 56 Objectives. The Goals stated in the Plan are as follows:

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Marsha May

Outreach and Education Committee
Texas Nature Tracker Program
January, 2008

I. Executive Summary: This item presents an update and overview of the department's Texas Nature Tracker Program (TNT). Established in 1992, TNT has made significant gains in furthering the mission of the department as well as playing a future role in the implementation of the department's Texas Wildlife Action Plan.

II. Discussion: The goal of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan (TWAP) is to keep common species common by identifying problems and solutions before species become rare. Many of these species are listed as species of concern in the TWAP. In 1992, TPWD developed a strategy for monitoring species of concern (then "candidate species") using citizen volunteers. Texas Nature Trackers is a citizen science, monitoring program designed to involve volunteers of all ages and interest levels in gathering scientific data on species of concern in Texas. The goal of the program is to enable long-term conservation of these species and appreciation among Texas citizens.

Several statewide and site-specific projects are now offered under the umbrella of Texas Nature Trackers (TNT). Statewide projects include Texas Horned Lizard Watch, Texas Mussel Watch, Texas Amphibian Watch, Texas Hummingbird Round-up, Texas Black-tailed Prairie Dog Watch, Texas Monarch Watch and the Box Turtle Survey. Several thousand Texans have participated in the program, and data have been used for environmental review, status updates, and management recommendations.

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Nancy Herron

Outreach and Education Committee
Texas Service Learning Project
January, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Every year, over 30,000 Texas students learn school curriculum while serving their communities in a special school-sponsored program called Service-Learning. Because of a new partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Center for Service-Learning (TxCSL), most of these students will participate in projects related to the mission of TPWD. This briefing will introduce you to students from an exemplary Service-Learning project in Coppell, Texas who created a new community nature park and wildlife center.

Service-Learning integrates school curriculum with project-based learning, that is, learning for a purpose. Students tackle a real community problem, and with guidance from the teacher, discover and learn in the process. For example, students who want to plant a butterfly garden at a hospital or nursing home would need to learn the science of habitat needs of butterflies, native plants, butterfly metamorphosis, water sources, soils, etc.; the math of calculating the area needed for the garden, amount of soil and other resources necessary; the social studies of understanding the value of nature to human restoration; the language arts of writing and public speaking to obtain permissions, soliciting community support and donations and articles publicizing the project.

Research has shown that students involved in Service-Learning on an ongoing basis:

Environmental projects have been shown to be especially effective in reaching students, and lay a strong foundation for future stewardship of natural resources.

TxCSL, who provides three-year grants to participating schools, approached TPWD to link our mission as inspiration for community projects. Local TPWD staff, sites and Master Naturalist volunteers often serve as advisors to Service-Learning schools. TxCSL is funded by the same national, governmental program that administers AmeriCorps, RSVP, VISTA and other community volunteer programs and is strongly supported in practice by the Texas Education Agency.

The partnership between TPWD and TxCSL is rich with benefits. It provides TPWD with an opportunity to foster relevant, meaningful natural resources experiences for youth as they challenge themselves with a local issue. It provides the school with an opportunity to engage and inspire students with proven methods and community involvement. And for students, the experience provides the life-long knowledge that they can make a difference -- and the future will be their capable hands.

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Ken Pollard

Outreach and Education Committee
Texas Buffalo Soldiers - 2008 & Beyond
January, 2008

I. Executive Summary: The Texas Buffalo Soldiers Briefing "2008 & Beyond" will provide an update regarding the current status and future of the statewide and nationally known Program. The two primary discussion areas will address the future of the Program through the TPWD/THC Buffalo Soldiers Program - Memorandum of Understanding and the opportunities centered on the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Trail Program.

II. Discussion: The TPWD/THC Buffalo Soldiers Program - Memorandum of Understanding completes an important link for TPWD and THC regarding African American history and our shared Texas history. The Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program has always focused on both cultural history and natural history. The natural history is about how the land impacted the people.

The Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Trail Program is about both heritage education and heritage travel. The Heritage Trail Program puts the popular Buffalo Soldiers 'Texas Story' into a marketable package that can benefit both TPWD and THC.

Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Linda Campbell

Outreach and Education Committee
Texas Brigades Program
January, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Linda Campbell, Program Director for Private Lands and Public Hunting and Helen Holdsworth, Education Program Specialist with Texas Wildlife Association, will brief the committee on the Texas Brigades, a wildlife-focused leadership development program for high school youth (ages 13-17).

II. Discussion: The Texas Brigades is a cooperative effort of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Cooperative Extension, U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Lower Colorado River Authority, Mellon & Alkek Foundations, and Texas Chapters of the Quail Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Four different camps (Bobwhite Brigade, Buckskin Brigade, Feathered Forces, and Bass Brigade) are held on private ranches and other outdoor venues throughout the state. The program's mission is to empower high school youth with the necessary skills and knowledge in wildlife, fisheries, and habitat conservation, land stewardship, team building, communication, and leadership to become ambassadors for conservation in order to ensure a sustained wildlife and fisheries legacy for future generations.