Last night, as The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) celebrated three decades as a scientific research and learning center, three Texas originals were recognized with the 2017 International Award of Excellence in Conservation:
David Bamberger and Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve: This 5,500-acre ranch in Blanco County has been restored to its original habitat. Their mission is to teach ethical land stewardship — by example and outreach, and by “working with Mother Nature, instead of against her”. J. David Bamberger has spent the last 48 years restoring the habitat of the ranch, clearing the Ashe Juniper and returning the ranch to grassland which allowed numerous natural springs to return, furnishing all the water for the ranch. The Preserve offers public tours and seminars for landowners; serves as a research lab for botanists, zoologists, and other scientists; and provides hands-on science classes and nature camps for school children. https://bambergerranch.org/
Frank Yturria and the Frank Yturria Family Ranch: Dr. Frank Yturria is a descendent from a pioneer ranching, merchant, and banking family from South Texas dating back to 1829. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy, he has placed 10,000 acres of his ranch into wildlife conservation easements for the protection of the endangered Ocelot cat and the Aplomado Falcon. Dr. Yturria is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Veterinary Medicine and is veteran of World War II and Korea.
Texas Christian University Ranch Management Program: This TCU Program prepares professionals to manage a broad range of global resources on an ecologically and economically sound basis while conserving and improving resources. Since 1955, the program has trained students to meet the challenges of agricultural resource management. The goal of the Ranch Management Program is to prepare individuals to help shape the future of agricultural asset management. The curriculum is designed to teach agricultural resource management by combining academics and practical experience. https://ranch.tcu.edu/
Created in 1995, the International Award of Excellence in Conservation is presented to honor individuals and organizations that exemplify the ideals expressed in BRIT’s mission. Past honorees include scientists, conservationists, heads of state, philanthropists, Pulitzer Prize winners, politicians, and other notables. BRIT’s annual award event has played an important role in raising public awareness of their mission and has brought an increased understanding of the importance of conservation issues and environmental awareness. Through education, BRIT has added to the global efforts to save the diminishing resources of our planet.
In another development earlier this week, BRIT and Texas Christian University (TCU) announced an education and research partnership that will add plant science and field research to the curriculum for TCU’s undergraduate and graduate programs. The program, planned to launch in fall 2018, will connect undergraduate and graduate students in TCU’s College of Science & Engineering and College of Education with BRIT’s Ph.D. botanists and research staff to perform plant science and field research to fulfill degree requirements. In addition, in January, the University of Texas at Arlington and BRIT announced they are going to collaborate to offer expanded research opportunities for graduate level studies.
Photos courtesy TCU and Chris Johnson.