Houston is famous for supplying the United States with energy, for engaging in cutting-edge medical research and for sending humans to the Moon. But for natural beauty our minds wander elsewhere.
Here’s the truth: Houston’s nature is exquisit and awe-inspiring. It is also fragile and in need of protection.
So it’s high time we discover our love for it. That's what this podcast is all about.
Please sign up for the Houston and Nature Memo at https://houstonnature.com to be notified whenever a new episode comes out!
22: It’s Breeding Season at the Smith Oaks Rookery
The Smith Oaks Rookery on High Island, in springtime, teems with life. Several species of colonial nesting birds come here to raise their young. And they do so right in front of human onlookers, without signs of fear.
To give you a sense of the experience that the Rookery offers, I packed up my microphones and headed to Smith Oaks. There I met with Houston's expert bird guide Glenn Olsen. Join us as we explore some of the island’s hustle and bustle. Then get in your car, pay this magical place a visit and see for yourself.
Find the transcript and show notes at https://houstonnature.com/smith-oaks-rookery
21: Kristi Rangel Reclaims Space and Place in Nature
Kristi Rangel has many facets: By career she is an educator, public health official, and artist. By passion she explores African American connections to the land in Houston. When she talks, you quickly learn that her rootedness in nature runs deep. It starts with a three-times great grandfather who, although African, owned a large piece of property in Mississippi. It continues with her childhood adventures in family gardens and her adult efforts to bring raised vegetable beds to Kashmere Gardens Elementary School. In this episode Kristi tells her story. She also shares her thoughts on property ownership, the conflicted history that connects black Americans to the land, and the need to find healing in nature.
20: Go birding with Sarah Flournoy and Houston Audubon
Does observing birds – as they jump from twig to twig, stalk prey, feed their young – bring you joy? Then, according to Sarah Flournoy of the Houston Audubon Society, you are a birder, whether you own a pair of binoculars or not.
Follow Sarah on her journey from beginner to expert birder. Find out why in Houston birding is such a big deal, and learn how you can connect with other bird enthusiasts through Houston Audubon.
Find episode resources here.
19: Texas Parks And Wildlife Meets A Changing State Population
The population of Texas is changing, but the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is ready. In this third episode of a three part interview, Ted Hollingsworth tells us how his agency addresses the increasing diversity of Texans, and how the demographic trends affect both its ranks and its bottom line. He also lets us in on the secret behind the Department’s overall popularity.
18: How Texas Parks And Wildlife Protects At-Risk Species Across The State
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) describes its approach to protecting the state’s ecosystems as science-based and forward-looking. How does being science-based work in a political culture that disputes science? And how does one pursue a forward-looking approach when the future looks so different from the past?
To find out, I spoke to Ted Hollingsworth, who directs TPWD’s Land Conservation Program. He explains how the Department uses the best science to conserve habitat, while acknowledging that with more and more species pushed towards extinction, they have to make hard choices.
17: My Time at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Houston
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is a state government agency, and it maintains a number of tourist attractions in the Houston area. An example is the San Jacinto Monument, where Texans won their independence from Mexico. What’s it like to maintain these assets, especially when the public is critical of the way you do things? Ted Hollingsworth has stories to tell. In the 1990s and early 2000s he was stationed in Houston. Not only did he decide to let the grass grow at San Jacinto. He also wanted to use fire as a weed control strategy. How did that play out? Tune in to find out.
Great Houston Nature Pod
What a great podcast to come across! I hope it continues well into the future. So much wonderful stuff in Houston, I hope we get more people knowing about our lovely botanical treasures around SE Texas!