Texas State Parks staff is getting used to the “new normal.” As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, guidelines for visiting the parks have changed to facilitate the safety of both visitors and park staff. We caught up with Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin, along with Mother Neff State Park Superintendent Melissa Chadwick and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area Superintendent Doug Cochran to find out how it’s going out there.
We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Tony Smith has built a business around his passion. The founder of Jarvis Boards in Austin gave up a successful professional career in finance to do what he loves: create beautiful handmade wooden paddleboards. His business has taken off, and he now has customers around the world. When he’s not making paddleboards, you can usually find him on top of one, enjoying the beauty of nature. Listen in on our latest podcast and find out more about Jarvis Boards and Tony Smith.
Thanks to a partnership with a nonprofit called FlatsWorthy, Texas Game Wardens working in coastal waters near Rockport now have access to a custom-made shallow water skiff that will allow them to better patrol hard-to-reach marshes and bays. FlatsWorthy’s Chuck Naiser championed the cause and the new boat was funded through TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program. Listen in on a conversation with TPWF’s Bob Benson, Chuck Naiser & Texas Game Warden, Major Ellis Powell.
We Will Not Be Tamed ambassadors Katie Forrest and Taylor Collins are passionate about taking care of the land they steward in the Texas Hill Country. They are teaching themselves and visitors to their Roam Ranch all about the benefits of regenerative agriculture. After just a few short years, their land is healing from decades of extractive farming techniques. Listen in and find out why they believe regenerative agriculture can help save the planet.
Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company has been making waves in the whiskey world since they debuted their first blended whiskey in 2012. The company has been hugely successful and in 2017, TX Whiskey Ranch opened in Fort Worth. TX Whiskey, a We Will Not Be Tamed brand partner, is a big supporter of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, including the Fort Worth chapter of Stewards of the Wild. Listen in on a conversation with company co-founder Leonard Firestone, and Fort Worth chapter co-chairs Brad Wharton and Riley King.
When disaster strikes, private philanthropy often comes to the rescue. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation created the Re-Build Texas Fund to help Texas communities recover from the devastating storm. Dozens of partners signed on to help and thousands have been involved in contributing to the effort to raise $100 million, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a We Will Not Be Tamed brand sponsor. Listen in on a conversation with Tito’s Lisa Huddleston, Rebuild Texas Fund’s Neeraj Aggarwal & TPWF Executive Director Susan Houston to find out how corporate philanthropy comes into play when Texas needs it most.
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin & Park Champion George Bristol joined us for our latest podcast. Texas voters said YES to Proposition 5 on Nov. 5 in a big way. 88% of Texas voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution that permanently dedicates the proceeds from the sporting goods sales tax to state and local parks and historic sites. As a result of the vote, millions of dollars will soon be available to build a brighter future for Texas parks. Listen in.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) wildlife biologists have been conducting research about white-tailed deer at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for more than four decades. Biologists monitor the progress of those studies through an annual deer work-up every October. This year, several TPWF members enjoyed a backstage view of the operation, as part of a TPWD Field Trip designed to give TPWF members a close-up view of this unique facility. Listen in as Ryan Reitz, Project Leader for the Kerr and Mason Mountain WMAs, and TPWF members Gray-Leigh Wilson and Danielle Sellier talk about their experience.
Texas voters will go the polls on November 5 for a Constitutional Amendment Election. If approved by voters, Proposition 5 will permanently dedicate the proceeds from the sporting goods sales tax to state and local parks and historic sites. Park enthusiasts have been working to get this done for decades, and during this last Legislative Session, park champions Senator Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. John Cyrier were able to finally get the legislation passed. Now it’s up to Texas voters. Listen in on a conversation with the two legislators and John Shepperd with the Texas Foundation for Conservation to learn more about why you should vote for Prop. 5 on November 5.
Western artist Teal Coke Blake’s love for the tradition of ranching and cowboying is unparalleled and shines through his work. His dad, Buckeye Blake, is also a renowned western artist, and they both now call Texas home. Teal, an avid fly fisherman, is also a 2019 We Will Not Be Tamed Ambassador. We caught up with both of them on Buckeye’s ranch near Weatherford for a wide-ranging conversation about art, life, the creative process and the impact of nature and the outdoors on both of their lives.
Conserving the wild things and wild places of Texas is one of the reasons Stephen McGee has signed on as a We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. That’s also the reason Stewards of the Wild chapters are springing up all over Texas, including in Bryan/College Station where a special event featured the screening of a documentary called “The River and the Wall.” TPWF Director of Conservation Initiatives Jay Kleberg was featured in that film. Listen in on a conversation with Stephen, Jay and Bryan/College Stations Stewards Co-chair Brandon Cozart to learn more about why they are dedicating their time to conservation.
Walking the talk is something We Will Not Be Tamed Ambassador Alvin Dedeaux tries to do every day. A couple of years ago, Alvin spent his birthday picking up trash on the Colorado River. That sparked an idea for a bigger event, and the LoCo Trash Bash was born. We caught up with Alvin, Thomas Flemons and Tim Birdsong next to a very full dumpster in Austin as the second annual LoCo Trash Bash wrapped up.
They don’t call the Texas Water Safari “the world’s toughest canoe race” for nothing! The annual event draws about 150 die-hard paddlers who test their mettle in a 260-mile canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift. It’s a grueling trip, one which few women attempt. We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Debbie Richardson is one of the few, and this year’s race will mark the 12th consecutive time she’s competed. We caught up with her and first-time Texas Water Safari competitor Pam LeBlanc for a conversation about what it takes to train for such an endeavor.
Caprock Canyons State Park is home to the Texas State Bison Herd. Each year park staff do an annual check-up of the majestic animals to make sure they are healthy. Caprock Canyons Superintendent is the head bison wrangler for the work-up, and this year he was joined by wildlife videographer and filmmaker Jessie Story, who is also a TPWF We Will Not Be Tame Ambassador. Listen in on a conversation with them as they discuss bison, the park’s myriad wildlife and the spectacular landscape that is Caprock Canyons.
The cool clear waters of Balmorhea has inspired many people over the years, including Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, Texas. In fact, he named one of his signature bourbons after the beloved pool in West Texas, and is earmarking some of the proceeds to benefit Balmorhea. Listen in to hear more about the Garrison Brothers story and why Dan believes good bourbon can change the world.
Inspiring Texans to conserve the wild things and wild places of our state is the goal of TPWF’s We Will Not be Tamed campaign. At a recent Texas Land Conservation Conference held in Austin, several campaign ambassadors joined in a panel discussion about TPWF’s effort. Listen in on a discussion with Alvin Dedeaux, Debbie Richardson, Rick Wittenbraker and Erin Franz.
Alvin and Lenee Dedeaux went fishing on one of their first dates….and they’ve been fishing together ever since. Now married with three children, Alvin and Lenee are also business partners with a very successful fishing guide business called “All Water Guides.” Alvin is also a TPWF We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador and Lenee is one of the only female fishing guides in Central Texas. Listen in on our latest podcast to learn more about their unique partnership.
Reaching out to new audiences with a conservation message is just one duty of a Texas Game Warden. Game Warden Rachel Kellner took that to a whole new level in late March with a huge outreach event she helped organize. “Women Who Wander” attracted more than 600 women to the banks of the Frio River for a weekend of fun, learning, and adventure. We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Debbie Richardson was along for the ride. Listen in!
The Stewards of the Wild is Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s young professionals’ organization, with chapters all over the state. The San Antonio chapter has a robust schedule of activities and events for its members to enjoy, including the popular “Sausage Showdown” annual event, which brings together wild game processors to showcase their work. We caught up with San Antonio chapter co-chairs Chris Collis and John Saunders and TPWF’s Engagement Manager Matt Hughes to find out more about how the Stewards chapters are involving more Texans in conservation.
Jesse Griffiths has been a trend-setter in the Austin restaurant scene for more than a decade. Radio and podcast host Cecilia Nasti has been following sustainable food trends in Central Texas for years. We caught up with both of them recently for a culinary conversation. Listen in on our latest podcast.