W.I.L.D. was launched in 2006 to fill one of those gaps. The Texas Brigades has effectively produced thousands of youth volunteers that are skilled and well versed in natural resource issues, ecological processes, and agriculture – wildlife interactions. The W.I.L.D. program is a prestigious, advanced leadership development and deployment program for the highest achieving former Brigades Cadets. The program will seek to hone their leadership skills, expose them to agricultural and natural resource policy-making and policy makers, foster development of professional skills, and improve the overall success of the Texas Brigades program through the creation of a Cadet Advisory Group composed of W.I.L.D. participants.
The W.I.L.D. program consists of an intensive 18 month program in which former Texas Brigades Cadets and Adult Leaders ages 18-23 attend four to five (4-5), weekend sessions designed to expose them to various areas of wildlife and natural resource issues, decision-making, and processes. W.I.L.D. participants are exposed to real-world natural resource issues and asked to use their leadership and decision-making skills to develop solutions and articulate their position to individuals with the power to make changes.
Participants in the W.I.L.D. program are the ‘cream of the crop’ of today’s young natural resource ambassadors. As the W.I.L.D. program evolves, we envision a prestigious group that will serve as a Youth Natural Resource Advisory Group, having annual meetings with entities such as the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, the Senate Natural Resource Committee, the House Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee, and even the Governor of Texas.
Methodology and Major Actions:
- Create advanced leadership and professional development curriculum for former Texas Brigades Cadets.
- Organize and implement unique learning experiences that will expose participant youth to the political interactions and players that create agricultural and natural resource policy in the state of Texas, and hone their leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills (special seminars, field trips and real-world experiences; participation in conferences, meetings of working groups; and interaction with legislative, state agency, and non-profit groups that influence policy decisions).
- Implement a Give-Back Program: Participants in the W.I.L.D. program will serve on a special Cadet Advisory Group to the Texas Brigades. The first major assignment for W.I.L.D. program participants will be to use their newfound leadership potential to give back to the program that brought them to W.I.L.D. The participants will serve as (1) student advisors to the Texas Brigades Board of Directors, (2) mentors to current Brigade participants, and (3) official Brigade ambassadors at events across Texas and the United States.