Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee

Jan. 25, 2006

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of January, 2006, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The first order of business is the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Motion by Mr. Holt and second by Mr. Montgomery. All those in favor, say, Aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Motion carries.

Committee item number 1, Land and Water Plan, Mr. Cook.

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. There are a couple, three items here. As a result of discussion at our last Commission meeting, planning has begun on the comprehensive FY '06 Seagrass Education Initiatives. The various tactics are lining up, including the TPWD news releases, radio, magazine features, and a video news report, all communicating how new seagrass rules take effect in April '06. The key message is the importance of safe and responsible boating and angling and the red fish bay scientific study area.

From November through early January, the Lone Star Land Steward Program has been getting additional valuable exposure by including the videos produced for the Land Steward banquet in the department television series. The individual landowners recognized during this period include Cave Creek Wildlife Management Association, a co-op unit, the George H. Henderson Family Partners, White Rock Lake Park, Treadwell's Brady Ranch, and the WW Ranch. All last year's winners will be recognized in this TV series throughout the course of the year.

Hunter education continues to develop strategies to recruit hunters. There have been 2,562 hunter education deferrals sold in the first quarter. As a part of the new program, staff presented a student fee proposal to the Commission in November that allows volunteers to retain $10 of the new $15 fee to cover their rising out-of-pocket expenses. That item was sent to the Texas Register and you heard about that this morning. Staff is planning meetings to flesh out new proposals to make hunter education more convenient in terms of course frequency and location.

Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you, Mr. Cook.

Item number 2, Project WILD, Nancy Herron and Cappy Manly.

MS. HERRON: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Nancy Herron. I'm the Outdoor Learning Programs Coordinator and I'm here with Cappy Manly, who is our Project WILD coordinator. We're here to brief you on our flagship education program, Project WILD.

This January marks a milestone for Project WILD. The international program is just teaching its one-millionth educator. I'm also very pleased to announce that Cappy Manly has been selected as the Project WILD coordinator of the year. So it's a great opportunity for us to brief you on how we're using Project WILD in Texas.

To understand the role of Project WILD, we can think about our mission in two ways. One is how we manage our resources directly and then we manage people. How we manage those people is with regulations, and with incentive programs, and education. This is where Project WILD comes in. We hope that these two programs, these two pieces are very strong and integrated. And so, in education, we rely heavily on Project WILD. So I'd like to turn it over to Cappy to show you how Project WILD brings our mission to thousands of children across Texas.

MS. MANLY: Good afternoon and thank you for having us here. As the human population grows bigger, we all know that the pressures on wildlife and our land and water resources have increased. Project WILD was designed to address those issues.

Project WILD is a conservation education program that brings wildlife and those resources to kids, and many of them for the very first time. It's a K-12 program so it addresses kindergarten through 12th grade. It's a national curriculum that is hands-on based.

It was used by wildlife agencies across the United States with Texas leading the way in the number of educators that we train each year. It was created by wildlife agencies to address the need to educate the public about wildlife and wildlife issues. It was done in collaboration with educators. It was piloted in urban and rural environments and it ended up as an award-winning curriculum.

Now, we are able to reach 50,000 students a year with one person, me, one coordinator. So how do we do that? Well, we leverage our resources. There's me, the one coordinator, and what I do each year is train about 100 volunteer trainers or facilitators. Those facilitators, in turn, go and teach workshops across the state to 2,600 educators. Those educators are not just classroom teachers. They also include non-formal providers, like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, camps,

pre-service teachers. Then those educators go back to their site and they teach 50,000 students a year. That's fairly phenomenal when you think about it.

One of the ways that we've been able to implement it in the classroom is that we have correlated it to the Texas Standards. Our activities are correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, and furthermore teachers that attend our workshops also receive State Board of Education training for credit.

We have a variety of partners that facilitate this. I'm happy to announce that we have nine major universities that utilize this program in their

pre-service teacher training or their science method training. In addition, we have representatives from school districts, zoos, nature centers, parks and recreation departments, and scouting programs that utilize it, too.

Now, one of the things that's very important to us in education is wanting to know, are our programs working. Is it effective? Fortunately, Project WILD has been evaluated extensively at the state and national level. Just last year, we did a survey, or an evaluation, with CyFair Independent School District, Cypress-Fairbanks outside of Houston. In that, all third and fourth grade teachers in the fourth largest school district in Texas were required to attend this training. What we were looking at is the effectiveness of Project WILD in getting teachers that knowledge, skills, and change in attitudes and behavior. We did pre-test and post-test throughout the school year and we used test and control groups for comparison.

So here's what we learned. It was very positive. We learned that teachers indeed, through the Project WILD training, are getting new information about wildlife habitats and management. We are raising their awareness about all these issues. That the teachers intended to use Project WILD activities beyond what was required of them at the school district level. Furthermore, that teachers are the perfect ambassadors for our program. They tend to be very supportive of the mission and certainly very supportive of the active management of our resources, too.

So, what's next for Texas? Well, unfortunately, Texas children still know more about rain forests than they do about the East Texas bottomland hardwood forest. So we want to change that. The way we're doing it is taking a regional approach to looking at topic issues in each of those areas. For example, what is the role of predators in our environment? Do we have room for them in our community? What's the value of prairies? Why are we so concerned about the freshwater inflow into our bay system? Project WILD allows us to have a venue to discuss these topics.

Let me give you an example of that. Just two weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a group of state elementary science education leaders about water issues. They had some profound comments that I want to share. They said to me, Why aren't people talking about this; why didn't anybody tell us this before; and what can I do to help? Project WILD, in that workshop, allowed a venue for them to talk about and discuss the issues that were affecting them.

Well, we've been teaching Project WILD at Parks and Wildlife for 20 years. We hope to teach it for another 20 years. We hope that at some point we're celebrating the one-millionth educator in our state to be trained. To give you a better feel for what Project WILD is about, we have a short video to show you so that you can see Project WILD in action.

(Whereupon, a videotape was played.)

MS. HERRON: Well, thank you so much. That concludes our presentation. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's very good.

VOICE: Great program.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Great program.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well done.

MR. COOK: You do an incredible job in an area that sometimes we forget is so important and that we are so involved in. I appreciate it very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: In the end, I think what you're working on is going to have more impact on the future of what we have than a lot of the other issues we talk about today.

MS. HERRON: Thank you very much.

MS. MANLY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I believe that concludes the Outreach and Education Committee meeting. I turn it over to the Regulations Committee chairman.

(Whereupon, at 1:20 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: January 25, 2006

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 10, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

2/08/2006

(Transcriber) (Date)


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