Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Presenters: David Forrester
Nancy Herron

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – Ranching and Wildlife Expo
August 21, 2014

I.      Executive Summary:  Staff will provide an overview of the Ranching and Wildlife Expo that takes place annually during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR).  The overview will include a brief history of the Ranching and Wildlife Expo, including how it began, how it has progressed, and how Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff contributes.

This item will explain the efforts of TPWD staff and the Ranching and Wildlife Expo Committee to put on a multi-day event consisting of information and vendor booths, wildlife and ranching-related presentations, wildlife-related auction, and the Life’s better outside® experience program to generate public interest and participation by HLSR participants.  Additionally, an important function of the HLSR – and thus the Ranching and Wildlife Expo – is to generate dollars for youth scholarships.

II.      Discussion:  The Ranching and Wildlife Expo began in 2007 and was organized by a few individuals within TPWD’s Wildlife Division — District 7 and the HLSR.  The event featured wildlife-related exhibits from TPWD, as well as, commercial vendors.  Some of the TPWD exhibits included the Kerr Wildlife Management Area white-tailed deer antler display, the Laser Shot interactive system from Hunter Education, and a general TPWD booth with a “find your biologist” center piece.  Commercial vendor booths consisted of a vast array of items ranging from jewelry, wildlife art, lending institutions, brush removal companies, and deer feeder manufacturers.  Additionally, the Expo showcased presentations delivered by experts in their fields dealing with a range of wildlife and ranching-related topics.  Finally, a wildlife-related auction featured art, hunts, trips, and other wildlife and ranching-related items.

Over the past eight years this model has proven successful with several modifications.  First, in 2008 the organizing individuals became the Ranching and Wildlife Expo Committee within the HLSR.  Committee membership has grown every year and has proven to be one of the more popular committees within the rodeo.  Additionally, the Expo moved inside Reliant Center which offered upgraded facilities for presentations.  The auction has also grown every year and has become a major draw for many associated with the HLSR, as well as, generating increased revenue every year.  Finally, the Life’s better outside® experience joined the Expo in 2010 and has proven a great attraction, introducing more than 2,500 of the HLSR visitors to shooting sports, fishing, camping skills, conservation law enforcement,  native wildlife and habitat, as well as, area state parks.