I love what TWA does for Texas. It educates Texans of all ages, promotes conservation, supports landowners and recruits hunters to keep our tradition alive. It’s a great organization that is committed to the land, the wildlife and the people who are about them.
Before Women of the Land, I knew I wanted to take care of the land, but I didn’t have a good concept of what I needed to do. Now I know what questions to ask. I understand the vocabulary of land management. Today, I’m formulating realistic goals for my property. That’s a life—and land—changer.
The most visible impact our natural resource education programs has is directly through those individuals we reach with these efforts. However, one of the valuable ancillary benefits of our education programs is the credibility and legitimacy it builds for TWA’s other efforts such as public policy work. Through Conservation Legacy, we earn respect from a broad audience and engage those people, which in turn helps create traction for our work across the spectrum of our mission. People innately want to connect to wild things and wild places and the secret ingredient of our Conservation Legacy efforts is creating portals for all of society to make that connection….when that happens, the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
TWA’s Conservation Legacy programs provide the natural resource education designed to improve natural resource literacy. Improved natural resource literacy in turn results in greater appreciation and respect for private lands and those who steward them and an understanding of the value of these private lands. This in turn will result in increased conservation of our land, water and wildlife now and in the future.
We need more open gates and more open hearts. We—all of us—need to actively invite other Texans, especially those who don’t normally get invited outdoors, to venues—whether it’s to a ranch, a museum, a city park, a zoo—where they can learn to appreciate wild critters and wild places. Again, the more we can do to help young people value the outdoors, the better off Texas will be.
[Paul] I start by telling people that it [Conservation Legacy] is the most wonderful program that I’ve ever been involved in. Then, I put my hand on my heart and say, ‘It gets me right here.’ Just come out and try it. If you don’t like it, then you will have had a day outside with kids, but if you do like it then you get to come back—and do it again and again. [Charlie] It’s the best organized program for kids I’ve ever seen. It moves like clockwork, so there is no wasted time—and the kids are learning through hands-on activities without even realizing it because it’s so fun. Who doesn’t like having fun outdoors?
As first graders, my students don’t have a lot of control over anything, but these Conservation Legacy programs empower them. They start looking at the world differently. After our last session, my students puffed up like proud peacocks and said, “I am a land steward”—and as such they undertook to keep the playground clean for the animals. It’s amazing to see six and seven-year-olds connecting to the land.