By Yvette Stewart, Community Outreach Coordinator
Audubon’s Conservation Leaders Program for Young Women (ACL) has been known by many monikers over the years, chosen by Audubon staff. Audubon Texas is proud to announce the new name, chosen by student leaders, with the same goals and guiding principles as the last eight years. Texas Leaders in Conservation (TLC) has launched for the 2023-2024 school year! During the program’s most recent summer camp, students led a conversation on the program name and whether or not it was in-line with the welcoming, inclusive atmosphere the Audubon Texas team has worked to create within the program. The conversation was two-pronged: the controversial history of John James Audubon and the gender limitations within the program name. No decisions were made at the moment, but some alternative names began to take shape.
As a new year of programming was launched in August, a larger audience of past participants and current students were surveyed. Given three alternative names for the program, with some context on how the suggestion came to be, they were asked their preference on names that would create space for more gender identities, more youth focused power, and student-orientated action. After receiving student feedback, the Audubon Texas board of advisors agreed with the recommendation on a new name, and a little “TLC”.
With the new name, Audubon Texas has also officially launched a new partnership with Galveston’s Ball High School! This addition is a new direction for the program. It is the first public high school brought into the TLC program, and instead of an open application process, we’re working with an entire class, and multi-gender cohort. Traditionally, 9th-12th grade students apply to the program and are coordinated by a school liaison. With Ball HS, Audubon is partnering with the hospitality program’s Introduction to Event Planning class. In addition to a long career in the hospitality industry, the Ball HS program coordinator, Ms. Sherry Rooks, has been teaching for eleven years, holds a B.S. in Social Science, and two Master degrees in Education and Instructional Design and Technology.
Ms. Rooks is a respected leader in her community who cares about her students with the joie de vivre of a true educator. She shares Audubon’s belief in the next generation, the importance of their voice, and the power of these students. Additionally, the program creates an understanding that conservation can belong in every career path, because industry and personal choice affect the health of the planet in numerous, yet sometimes indirect ways. The program goal is to use hands-on experiences and student team building activities to create more affection and connection to the wonderful nature embedded in Galveston’s Bird City Texas community. The TLC program offers awareness and action for the sustainability of Galveston’s nature tourism industries. Look for exciting Galveston updates and completed projects in our Spring 2024 newsletter.