|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-08-19                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Chris Holmes, TPWD, (512) 332-0762 or chris.holmes@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 19, 2010
More Texas Families Becoming Camping Converts
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled a full slate of Texas Outdoor Family workshops this fall designed to introduce even more families to the ease and joy of camping in one of dozens of Texas state parks.
Since its inception in 2008, 1,040 families have participated in the two-day, supervised outdoor education program, learning how set up a campsite, cook outdoors, hike, fish, use GPS devices and learn other outdoor skills. During the current fiscal year that ends on Aug. 31, 578 families (2,123 people) attended 58 outdoor family workshops offered throughout much of the state. Twenty-six workshops were full, resulting in 135 families placed on a waiting list. Workshop participants were split almost evenly between adults and half children.
The Jamail Family of Mountain City, south of Austin, landed a spot for the popular outdoor family workshop held at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet last April. Darryl Jamail and his wife Stephanie, who have children ranging from 5 to 9 years of age, hadn't been camping in more than 25 years and were hesitant to take their youngsters on a campout. But Darryl says the supply list provided by workshop organizers after they had signed up to be a great "jump starter" and found the overnight camping trip fun for all. Stephanie says they'll use the list for future camping trips and the family will likely buy a Texas State Park Pass, which makes camping for families economical.
"It was such a great experience," Stephanie says. "We learned what it takes to prepare ourselves to go camping, what size tent and what kind of gear we need, and how easy it is to use state parks."
The ethnicity of Texas Outdoor Family participants, according to program leader Chris Holmes, closely parallels the diversity of the state's population: 55 percent Anglo, 28 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian and 7 percent African-American.
"Workshop participants are a good reflection of Texas' overall ethnic diversity and represent a more diverse user group compared to those who typically visit our state parks," Holmes says. "We found, too, that 87 percent of the families had not camped in a Texas state park in the last five years."
The workshops cost $55 per family for up to six people. The cost covers all park entry fees and campsite rental, professional park ranger-led programs and instruction, a specially designed curriculum tailored to each state park, a state park Junior Ranger certification program and most importantly. All that campers need to bring are sleeping bags or bedding, personal items, and food and drinks. To make sure nothing is left at home, a list of suggested items to bring is also provided.
Holmes says that no experience or special equipment is needed to attend an outdoor family workshop. Tents, cooking equipment and other essential items are provided. Skilled outdoor specialists and trained volunteers provide hands-on instruction in everything from setting up a tent and building a fire to how promote environmental awareness in children.
The first fall overnight campouts take place Sept. 11-12 at Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Texas Hill Country and at Galveston Island State Park. Weekend workshops will be held this autumn in state parks located near most of Texas' major metropolitan areas, as well as several parks in less populous areas. This year's final campouts will be held Dec. 4-5 at Mineral Wells State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
While all workshop activities are similar, some instruction is site-specific, taking advantage of a park's individual natural resource. At the upcoming Galveston State Park workshop, for example, participants will learn a number of basic outdoor skills, such as how to build a base camp and cook on an open flame. Campers, however, also will have the opportunity to try sea kayaking and take a guided hike to observe the Galveston Bay's changing environment.
For a complete list of upcoming workshops, visit the online Texas Outdoor Family Calendar pages. The workshops are made possible in part by sponsorships from Toyota and the Igloo Corporation.
Families can register by calling (512) 389-8903 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative or by sending an e-mail to: tofsp@tpwd.texas.gov. After registration, a confirmation packet with details will be sent.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Aug. 19, 2010
New Texas State Parks Director Named
AUSTIN -- Brent Leisure, a 26-year veteran of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has been named director of Texas State Parks. A regional parks director for almost seven years, Leisure will assume his new duties as leader of the agency's State Parks Division effective Sept. 1.
Leisure replaces Walt Dabney, who is retiring on Aug. 31, after 11 years of leading Texas state parks through some challenging times to become one of the nation's most innovative state park systems.
The announcement of Leisure's appointment to lead state parks was made today by Scott Boruff, TPWD's deputy executive director of operations.
"Brent has a long and successful track record in Texas State Parks as an advocate for the staff, our visiting public, and the natural and cultural resources in those parks," Boruff says. "We look forward to Brent continuing the great tradition of stewardship and promotion of recreational opportunities that Walt Dabney set in motion in recent years."
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith calls Leisure the right choice for the future of state parks.
"Brent's vast experience and penchant for innovation are the perfect combination to lead the Texas State Park system well into the 21st century," Smith says. "He has the full support and respect of his peers and the department's leadership to continue on the positive course set by his predecessor."
"This is an exciting time for Texas state parks as we face a changing population demographic that requires us to incorporate new thinking into our strategic planning," Leisure says. "This new position presents me with a wonderful opportunity to lead a passionate, dedicated team of park professionals into the future to provide a park system that will become ever more important to Texans in days to come."
Leisure first worked for Texas state parks in the early 1980s as seasonal summer help. The Texas Tech University graduate (class of '84) has served brief stints the past five years as acting state parks director. More recently, Leisure has been the director of Region 5, which includes 16 state parks in southeast central Texas staffed by more than 150 employees. For more than six years prior to that time, the parks veteran served 11 years as general superintendent of the Lost Pines Complex that includes Bastrop and Buescher state parks. Leisure is a commissioned state parks police officer.
As regional director, Leisure developed a structured mentoring program for assistant park superintendents to train future leaders within the state park system. He also pushed within his region's parks for aggressive use of Global Positioning Systems and prescribed burning as a resource management tool.
As director, Leisure will oversee a system composed of 93 state parks, state natural areas and historic sites, and a division of about 1,350 employees.