– by Jacob Cole
Natural Resources are vital to the well-being of everyone, regardless of what they believe. From clothing and the food they eat, to the home that they live in, nearly every product can be traced back to a natural origin. Many people aren’t aware of this, especially the majority of today’s teenagers. Texas Brigades is trying to remedy this by educating teenagers about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Texas Brigades was founded by a man who had a passion for education. In 1993, Dr. Dale Rollins founded the first summer camp, Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade. Intending to educate teenagers about wildlife conservation and ethics, Texas Brigades also equips those teens to be better public speakers, leaders, and critical thinkers. Since 1993, additional camps and programs have been formed by volunteers with Texas Brigades, who share Dr. Rollins’ dream. Whether interested in freshwater fish, deer, quail, livestock, or marine life, there is a Texas Brigades Summer Camp for everyone.
Over the past four years, I have attended many of the different summer camps offered by Texas Brigades, learning about habitat management, wildlife biology, and many other subjects. The reason that I believe Texas Brigades is so successful is simple: their motto is, “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” Throughout the weeklong camps, the cadets get to participate in nearly every exercise mentioned at camp, from electro-fishing to participating in a helicopter demonstration; we participate in techniques that real wildlife biologists and managers use.
Texas Brigades’ vision is “Conservation leaders in every community.” The way that they encourage cadets to share their experiences is to offer some great incentives. If cadets report ten outreach activities within 4 months of attending camp, they are eligible for an “early bird” trip that corresponds to the Texas Brigades Summer Camp they attended. For example, the cadets of North Texas Buckskin Brigade get to go on a deer hunting trip, and the cadets of Bass Brigade get to go on a fishing trip. Outreach activities include speeches, presenting tri-fold displays, attending or assisting with workshops, and other advocacy opportunities. After “early bird” submissions, cadets should continue to speak to their community about conservation and how camp inspired them. These activities along with the “early bird” activities give way to other Texas Brigades incentives; college scholarships and opportunities to be leaders among your peers. With the submission of an application and Book of Accomplishments (record book), cadets who did the most quality activities are invited back as Assistant Leaders to help the team with the next year’s camp. College scholarships are awarded to many of these leaders each year.
If you are reading all of this and you are thinking that it seems like something you would be interested in, then I encourage you to visit the Texas Brigades website at www.texasbrigades.org. I have grown as a leader because of this organization’s Summer Camps Program, and I have really fallen in love with learning about our natural resources and how they impact me.