Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Our Work
We cannot succeed in protecting the lands, waters, night skies, and communities of the Hill Country if we are not engaging with the full diversity of the communities we aim to serve.
We recognize there are numerous groups and communities within the Hill Country that we have not historically engaged, and for whom our reach and impact have been limited. We also recognize that there are systems of power that grant access and privilege unequally across lines of race, gender, age, class, language and ability. Ignoring those inequities, the factors that lead to them, and our own shortcomings will prevent us from ever being truly successful.
As a community-centered organization, it is our responsibility to actively seek out connections and partnerships. HCA is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion-based solutions that promote healthy natural resources and thriving communities for ALL Central Texans.
Read on to explore some of our resources, relevant updates, and recent news on equity in the outdoors and the broader conservation movement.
Texas Hill Country Conservation Network: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee
The Hill Country Alliance is proud to serve as the backbone organization for the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network, a partnership of dozens of organizations focused on maximizing the protection of natural resources. Following the summer protests of 2020, the Network began having conversations on what role our collaborative plays in ameliorating or perpetuating racial and other injustices.
The committee is currently finalizing a request for proposals to hire a consultant to guide an internal review and the development of a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy and plans to begin that work in earnest in the spring of 2021. Relevant outcomes and resources will be shared on the HCA site in the near future. Committee members include:
- Amanda Fuller, National Wildlife Federation
- Azuri Gonzalez, University of Texas, El Paso
- Carrie Thompson, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University
- Cliff Kaplan, Hill Country Alliance
- David Buggs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Frank Davis, Hill Country Conservancy
- Iliana Peña, Texas Wildlife Association
- Ivonne Santiago, University of Texas, El Paso
- Jennifer Walker, National Wildlife Federation
- John Rooney, Texas Hill Country Conservation Network
- Katherine Romans, Hill Country Alliance
- Kyle Garmany, The Nature Conservancy
- Parc Smith, American Youthworks
- Paul Sanchez-Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife
- Rachael Lindsey, Hill Country Conservancy & Eco-vative Associates
- Robin Johnson, Texas Water Trade
- Vanessa Puig-Williams, Environmental Defense Fund
HCA Resource Spotlight
As we seek to build a vibrant future for the communities and natural resources of the Hill Country, it is critical that we do so in a way that engages with and reflects the full diversity of the region. Across the 17 counties of the Hill Country, there are many groups, organizations, and individuals working to engage our communities in important conservation work, one person at a time. The below panels were recorded during the 2020 Hill Country Leadership Summit in order to inspire, share advice and resources, and shine a spotlight some of the folks “doing the work.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Conservation in the Hill Country: Why it Matters and Where to Start
This panel explores why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important for the conservation movement broadly, and how organizations can start or continue their journeys to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Panelists: David Buggs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Sapna Mulki, Water Savvy Solutions; Rocío Villalobos, City of Austin Equity Office; Emily Warren, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Moderator: Vanessa Escobar, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District and Hill Country Alliance Board Member
Cultivating a Hill Country for All: Inspiring Stewardship, Conservation, and Communication
This panel spotlights some of the groups working to spread positive messages of conservation and stewardship and examines what it takes to connect and inspire the hearts and minds of diverse, young audiences across the region.
Panelists: Justine Salsbury, Shield Ranch Foundation/El Ranchito Summer Camp; Amelia DeVivo, Austin Youth River Watch; April Sansom, Bamberger Ranch; Josie Gutiérrez, San Antonio Chapter, Latino Outdoors; Alex Bailey, H. E. Butt Foundation
Moderator: Leah Cuddeback, Hill Country Alliance
Additional Resource Spotlights
Recent Equity in the Outdoors News
The Howard W. Peak Greenway system is a jewel, connecting San Antonians to nature in the heart of our city. Bike, walk or run on these 82 miles of developed…
Growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Mark Friesenhahn often would run barefoot through the countryside with his younger brother — but only if their father, “a 150-pound, mean little…
Residents and community members will have the opportunity to get involved and voice their ideas regarding the Indigenous Cultures Institute’s plans to build an Indigenous Cultures Center for Hays County.…
San Antonians can now travel almost 40 miles straight without ever exiting a trail. An eagerly awaited connection between the Leon Creek and Salado Creek Trails officially opened this past…
Helpful Links and Documents