The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mission balances outdoor recreation and use of resources with conservation and management of natural and cultural resources. The department operates 93 Texas state parks and historic sites, 51 wildlife management areas, three saltwater fish hatcheries and five freshwater hatcheries. TPWD game wardens and wildlife and fisheries biologists work in every Texas county, enforcing laws and encouraging management to conserve fish and wildlife. In line with the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, the department’s 10-year operating plan, TPWD is emphasizing ecosystem and river basin/watershed approaches to statewide conservation.
Through its innovative outdoor education programs, TPWD provides Texans of all ages with opportunities to learn about and care for our environment. Programs such as Project WILD (a conservation and environmental education program for grades K-12), Texas Nature Trackers (a citizen science monitoring effort), and Texas Junior Naturalists (an online resource for students of nature and the outdoors) provide direct opportunities for students to use service-learning to address needs in the environment. A Teacher Toolkit offers educators a range of activities and lesson plans, including service-learning project ideas. Students can access the human resources of Texas Master Naturalists and TPWD field staff to help in efforts to restore or improve the natural environment. Schools and community partners can apply for a range of grants through TPWD to help fund environmental service-learning efforts.
TPWD also directs the Life’s Better Outside campaign and is leading efforts in the state to connect Texans with our natural resources and heritage and to encourage children and youth to experience the outdoors. As one example this commitment, TPWD helped implement the Texas Healthy Habitats grant in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and EnCana Natural Gas, which is involving 15 schools and nonprofit youth organizations across the state in addressing needs in the state Wildlife Action Plan through service-learning. This grant is helping Texas students do their part to restore habitat and improve our natural environment while learning important lessons about science and stewardship.