By McKenzie Mull
Program Manager, Texas Brigades
Graduate of 8th Battalion, North Texas Buckskin Brigade

A stream survey during Bass Brigade.

“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” That Chinese proverb was the “Silver Bullet” quote assigned to me on my first day at a Texas Brigades Summer Camp. The next five days were so exhausting, engaging, and educational that I almost forgot about the one major task looming over me: as a rite of passage to graduate, I was expected to stand in front of the whole camp, recite and explain my Silver Bullet, and give a loud “HOOAH” war cry to top it off. As a 15-year-old introvert, all I could think about is how absolutely terrifying that would be. Now, as a 25-year-old working professional, I am proud to say that not only did I graduate and survive that challenge, but that I am thankful for that stressful experience. My time at camp not only catalyzed my interest in wildlife conservation, it also gave me the self-confidence to pursue my passions no matter what challenges arise. Coincidentally, my pursuits led me back to Texas Brigades. In my current role as the Program Manager, I have gained a broader perspective of the organization and realized I was not alone; in the past year of employment, I have learned just how much of an impact Texas Brigades has had on all of its graduates, and am honored to take part in continuing that legacy.

Cadets explore fish anatomy at the TWA Convention in San Antonio.

Texas Brigades began in 1993 as a single Summer Camp with the goal of increasing conservation advocacy and literacy in youth. Dr. Dale Rollins, founder of Texas Brigades, likens each camp to the diamond-making process. Every cadet comes in as a lump of coal that, once subjected to the Texas summer heat and the transformative pressure of the camp, becomes a diamond. In just five days, cadets at each camp learn college-level curriculum from industry professionals regarding the anatomy, ecology, and conservation practices of their camp’s species (bobwhite quail, whitetail deer, redfish, bass, or cattle). The camps also focus on developing leadership and communication skills such as public speaking, teamwork, and journalism. Twenty seven years and more than 3,000 diamonds later, Texas Brigades is proud to now offer several additional educational youth programs based on leadership, wildlife, natural resources, and conservation.

In order to reach more youth throughout the year, we started our experience program. These one-day programs allow us to work with other conservation organizations, such as Texas Dove Hunters Association, to provide high-quality, hands-on learning opportunities for youth ages 9 to 17. Our Wildlife Intensive Leadership Development program (W.I.L.D.) is offered biennially for an elite group of future conservation leaders ages 18 to 23. Throughout an academic year, participants are exposed to real-world conservation issues and legislation across the state of Texas. Through field trips, service and research projects, they are able to develop and polish their skills to emerge as future wildlife professionals.

Pro Angler, Gary Klein, instructs Bass Brigade cadets on casting techniques. Photo By Clint Robertson

Texas Brigades’ vision is not to create biologists exclusively, but instead to develop “Conservation Leaders in Every Community” by inspiring a land ethic and respect for nature in young people no matter where they end up personally or professionally. No matter where they come from, our graduates leave with a better understanding of the natural world and their place in it.

A cadet gets hands-on experience working with telemetry equipment in the field. Photo By
Joseph Richards

As a proud graduate of the 8th Battalion of North Texas Buckskin Brigade myself, I can personally attest to the power of Texas Brigades and its programs. Not only has Texas Brigades taught me how to help myself, but also how to help others. Texas Brigades is more than a nonprofit organization; it’s a family. We hope you’ll join us soon!

2019 TEXAS BRIGADES SUMMER CAMP DATES

June 7-11
Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade
(Coleman, TX)

June 16-20
South Texas Buckskin Brigade
(Sinton, TX)

June 22-26
South Texas Bobwhite Brigade
(McCoy, TX)

July 7-11
North Texas Buckskin Brigade
(Santa Anna, TX)

July 16-20
Coastal Brigade
(Galveston, TX)

July 17-21
Bass Brigade
(Santa Anna, TX)

July 22-26
Ranch Brigade
(Santa Anna, TX)

Applications available online at: texasbrigades.org

Deadline for 2019 Summer Camps: March 15th

Contact Information:
Texas Brigades
3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126
San Antonio, TX 78247
Office: (210) 556-1391
Email: camps@texasbrigades.org