Texans for State Parks Annual Meeting a Success!
After being “put on ice” for a month, the Texans for State Parks 2023 meeting was a great success! More than one hundred people from across the state travelled to McKinney Falls State Park to hear a lineup of great speakers and show their enthusiasm and support for our parks.
The wide appeal of state parks was illustrated as the conference kicked off with presentations during the “Brag Night” social evening. The session began with an introduction to the Get Outside Alliance, which is building a corps of volunteer workers based in the Houston area that are ready to tackle a variety of resource management and facility maintenance projects in parks in East Texas and beyond. This rapidly growing effort provides an easy way for individuals to socialize and enjoy the outdoors, while improving parks at the same time. The Friends of Big Bend Ranch State Park showed how lovers of the park are able to build significant financial support for the park despite being dispersed across the state through their online auction. The evening closed with the Lake Ray Roberts Equestrian Alliance, which has channeled the contributions of a major user group into significant improvements to the facilities of the park that benefits the many horseback riders and others using the Ray Roberts Greenbelt and other park trails.
State Parks Director Rodney Franklin provided the keynote address on Saturday, noting the broad support for the park system that has developed as it enters its 100th year. While providing an update on the progress of new parks already in the system, Director Franklin also cited the need for more parks expressed by Governor Abbott in a recent legislative event at the Bob Bullock Museum as an indicator of the realization by many at the capitol that parks are a good investment for the state, and must continue to grow as the Texas population expands. State Parks Marketing manager Thomas Wilhelm followed up with a presentation of State Park Anniversary products and other items that will be available during 2023. Hint: get your commemorative items soon – they are selling quickly!
A highlight of the day for many was the presentation of awards for Outstanding Park Staff Member, Park Superintendent, Park Volunteer and Park Friends Group for each region of the state. Parks Director Franklin joined TfSP Awards Program Chairman Tom Rhodes in presenting these awards to a very deserving group of winners.
Thanks to everyone that attended the conference and helped to make it a success! A special thanks also goes out to Dita Darrah of the David Chandler Company showing their line of astronomy related items, and Robin Stalling of Bike Texas for providing test rides on a variety of Ebikes for attendees. Finally, a big thanks to the park staff at McKinney Falls for all their support in making the meeting a success!
Stay tuned for updates on next year’s conference coming soon – you won’t want to miss it!
Kevin Good, President