Texas student chapters engage on RAWA

By Karrie Kolesar, TWS Texas Chapter’s Young Professional Development Program - James Teer Leadership Institute

RAWA letter signing event run by Tarleton Student Chapter Public Relations members (left to right) Jennifer Matthews, Rebekah Halepaska, and Kathryn Burton. ©Tarleton State University Student Chapter of TWS

The board of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society used a portion of the 2018-2019 Jim Teer Leadership Institute for Early Career Professional Training to work with Texas Chapter membership to increase knowledge and awareness of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. One part of the initiative that the RAWA project group pursued was energizing the student chapters, which saw great success.

Supporters see the act — which one Texas wildlife official called “the greatest opportunity since 1937 to advance natural resource conservation in the U.S.” — as the best chance to secure dedicated conservation funding for proactive conservation in the United States for the foreseeable future.

Student Chapter Historian Kathryn Burton talks to the Tarleton Student Chapter of TWS Public Relations Committee about joining the Texas Wildlife Alliance. ©Tarleton State University Student Chapter of TWS

This legislation, H.R. 4647, would secure up to $1.3 billion dollars of existing revenue generated from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and allocate those funds to states based on geographic size and population. Texas’ share would be approximately $63 million dollars and would be used to enact the Texas Conservation Action Plan, which identifies and outlines strategies for the conservation of 1,310 species of greatest conservation need.

This piece of legislation is widely supported within the conservation and natural resources community, and it’s continuing to gain bipartisan legislative support, but lack of knowledge is one of the largest barriers to passage of the bill. The Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife is working to coordinate the nationwide effort to encourage members of Congress to cosponsor the bill. In Texas, organizations such as the Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife and the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society have worked to spread the word and generate support and target legislators.

The Texas State University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society formed a committee to oversee RAWA outreach. The chapter wrote a piece for the university’s newsletter, which reaches over 200 student organizations on campus. It incorporated a RAWA page on its website and plans to partner with the Bat Association at Texas State to send letters and make calls to spread awareness.

Texas A&M’s Student Chapter got together for a successful letter-writing event. ©TAMU Student Chapter of TWS

The Texas A&M Student Chapter held a letter writing event where members were able to customize their letter to the representative of their hometown and send letters to other representatives. Members networked with Congress members at wildlife events and used social media to raise awareness.

The Tarleton State University Student Chapter held three informative events on campus to allow students the option to sign and learn about the importance of RAWA. The chapter sent letters to members of Congress, gave six presentations to spread awareness and wrote two articles for the university newsletter.

The Stephen F. Austin State University Student Chapter wrote over 625 letters to members of Congress from Texas.


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