LUBBOCK, TX – Texas Brigades W.I.L.D. Class VII kicked off their year in Lubbock for Session I, “Water Use in the Texas Panhandle.” The class learned about the ways water is used and conserved in the area, as well as the effect it has on different agricultural stakeholder groups and wildlife.
Our first day in Lubbock gave W.I.L.D. students background information to set the stage for Session I. The class gained an overview of underground water, as well as the political importance of water conservation districts statewide from Katherine Drury, of High Plains Water District. Afterward, our class learned about the history of agriculture in the area from volunteers Lee & Red, who gave us background on the pieces they restored at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture. Julie Hodges, Director of Education for the National Ranching Heritage Center, spent the afternoon showing the class original ranching structures and demonstrating the evolution of ranching in America. From there, our class met up with Texas Tech wildlife and agriculture students, including former Texas Brigades cadet, Micah Rainey, to discuss the variety of professional organizations and internship opportunities available in college. We wrapped up our first day with dinner and conversation with former W.I.L.D. member, Cole Payne, as well as other Texas Brigades alumni and mentors.
Our second day took us to the field, where our W.I.L.D. class saw real-world examples of conservation in action. Brandt Underwood, of NRCS, organized a spectacular day of field site visits spanning the multiple industries of local production agriculture. The class had the privilege of touring Liberty Co-Op Gin to see the inner workings of a cotton gin firsthand and follow the process from boll to bale. Later, our class met roadside with Kelly Attebury, soil scientist for NRCS, who explained the geographical phenomena of playa lakes, and their importance as an ephemeral water source for regional and migratory wildlife species. From there, we met with a local farmer, R.N. Hopper, who switched to no-till farming in 2006. His progressive farming practices gave our class an insight into the blending of natural resource conservation as it applies to production agriculture. Our day in the field culminated with Bernadette of Vista Grande Dairy, a local family-owned dairy farm and one of Fairlife‘s Select Milk Producers. There, we observed the implementation of sustainable management practices to ensure happy cows, and thus, happy milk.
We are so grateful to all who mentored our students during Session I and helped it be a success!
W.I.L.D. was created in an effort to further develop participants’ knowledge of wildlife and natural resource conservation. W.I.L.D. is an advanced program for young adults that engages and exposes participants to natural resource policies and procedures, hands-on field research and data, career-building, and professionalism.
Each W.I.L.D. Class is a small, elite group of no more than 10. One spot is available for applicants who do not have previous experience with Texas Brigades programs.
Throughout the academic year (September – May), W.I.L.D. participants will be required to attend 4 separate weekend-long sessions plus one week-long Spring Break session. Examples of session topics include professional development, natural resource policy, and site visits to see conservation efforts in action. Courses are held state-wide.
W.I.L.D. Class VII is tasked with completing one individual project and one group project throughout the academic year. The individual “Capstone Project” is legislation-based and will culminate with each member giving a presentation to a committee of legislators in Austin during Session V.
The group project concerns the planning of the Confluence of Young Conservation Leaders (CYCL), which Texas Brigades will be hosting next fall. CYCL brings together youth conservation leadership organizations from across the nation to collaborate on the sustainability and development of like-minded organizations.
W.I.L.D. Session II, “Professionalism” will take place in College Station, TX mid-November.
Text by: McKenzie Mull, Program Manager – Texas Brigades