TPWD Awards $2 Million in Community Outreach Grants


AUSTIN — Communities throughout Texas will have more opportunities to get outside, thanks to grants awarded through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP).

These 26 new grant partnerships, totaling $1,953,461, will connect non-traditional audiences with TPWD sites, parks, programs and staff to engage communities in conservation and outdoor recreation throughout the state.

CO-OP grant recipients are as diverse as the communities in Texas they serve. They include conservation groups, nature centers, non-profit organizations, school districts and municipalities. Funded projects range from Learn to Camp workshops at state parks, adaptive outdoor skills training for the visually impaired, citizen science to collect bird collision data, a mobile observatory to promote Dark Sky initiatives, and Spanish language programs to educate residents about the health of local waterways. Communities build capacity by participating in TPWD angler and archery instructor programs and teachers receive training in Project WILD to deliver hundreds of hours of environmental education lessons. Our Texas youth learn to hunt, fish, camp, paddle and begin a lifelong journey on a path to conservation stewardship. The benefits to Texas communities are endless.

CO-OP was established by TPWD in 1996 to help introduce under-represented audiences to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation programs. The program is authorized by the Texas Legislature through the department’s budget as a specialized component of the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program. Grants range from $5,000 to $100,000 and funds may be used for supplies, travel, training, food, personnel costs and equipment. Over the last 28 years, TPWD has awarded more than $29 million around the state to support these efforts.

The following organizations will receive CO-OP Grant awards:


National Federation of the Blind of Texas: $87,107

Blindness Outdoor Learning Development Extra Reach (BOLDER) facilitates adaptive outdoor skills and independence for the blind community at Texas State Parks. Visually impaired mentors attend training to learn specialized blind techniques to teach outdoor cooking, biking, canoeing and hiking programs and then serve as instructors for Camp B.O.L.D sessions to teach these skills to blind youth and their families.


Explore Austin: $99,179

Empowering Economically Disadvantaged Youth through Mentoring, Leadership, and Outdoor Adventures provides free programs that include wilderness trips and service projects at Texas State Parks, Learn to Camp workshops with the Texas Outdoor Family program, and an exploration of outdoor careers in collaboration with TPWD’s Human Resources Division.

National Wildlife Federation: $97,250

Earth Tomorrow Houston cultivates new generations of environmental stewards through an intensive year-long cycle of afterschool and summer leadership trainings, career exploration, environmental education, and student-led service projects at Texas State Parks, as well as opportunities to participate and practice outdoor skills in the Texas Outdoor Family’s Learn to Camp program.


The City of Caldwell TX Housing Authority: $44,075

The Caldwell Explorers program removes financial and transportation barriers to provide low-income residents with guided first-time visits to multiple Texas State Parks. Neighborhood-based outdoor skills and nature programs will also be offered, supporting residents in the group planning of each park adventure.


Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas:  $99,400 

West Texas Adventures immerses high school girls in the outdoor experience of a lifetime— camping, hiking, birding, geocaching, astronomy and exploring the natural and cultural resources of West Texas.  The 10-day treks include visits to Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks and Davis Mountains, Balmorhea and Monahan Sandhills State Parks.

Texas Conservation Alliance: $94,110

Engaging Texas Youth in Wildlife Conservation increases the diversity of participation in citizen science data collection using the TPWD Texas Nature Tracker, iNaturalist and SEEK programs to engage underrepresented audiences in more than 20 hands-on service projects such as the Lights Out bird collision surveys, Milkweeds for Monarchs, Whooper Watch, and habitat and waterway restorations.


Nature and Eclectic Outdoors: $100,000

Wilderness Kids partners with historically marginalized Houston neighborhoods to create outdoor connections to state and regional parks and environmental education that includes the TPWD Project WILD curriculum. Day camps, field trips and family camping workshops are provided, as well as an innovative Student Outdoor Leaders program that explores conservation careers, stewardship and service projects.


Friends of Cleburne State Park: $72,985

Reach for the Stars features a mobile observatory on wheels that delivers TPWD’s Dark Sky initiative and astronomy lessons to local school campuses. TPWD volunteers, astronomy experts and park staff will also host field trips at the park that include solar system hikes, career exploration, service projects, as well as nighttime Reach for the Star events for the community.

A Rocha USA: $79,689

Picnics en el Arroyo hosts a variety of Spanish-language programs for low-income Hispanic families that focus on Arroyos Saludables para Comunidades Saludables, Healthy Streams for Healthy Communities. Participants explore local creeks, rivers, streams, and visit Bastrop, Palmetto and McKinney Falls State Park, supported by TPWD’s Aquatic Science, Project WILD and Texas Nature Trackers activities.


Friends of Galveston Island State Park: $16,521

Driven by a mission to preserve and protect the Texas Gulf coast, Camp Wild 2024 offers a free week-long exploration at the park for local underserved youth. Many campers will visit the park for the first time and explore the natural resources of the beach, bay and prairie habitats while learning new skills such as kayaking and seining in the bay and coastal birding.


Williamson County Juvenile Services Division: $42,815

The GO! Program provides opportunities for youth within the Williamson County juvenile justice system to visit local and Texas State Parks to learn new outdoor skills such as fishing, biking, paddle boarding, rock climbing and outdoor cooking. A visit from a Texas Game Warden will provide insight into careers in conservation and youth also participate in a service project at Mother Neff State Park.


Alief Montessori Community School: $23,132

The Adolescent Camping and Exploring (ACE) Program inspires students with confidence and a sense of adventure as they lead the research, planning and execution of overnight campouts at Texas State Parks. Camp set-up/take down, outdoor recreation skills and Leave No Trace principals are practiced in and out of the classroom, as well as a campus Dutch Oven Cookoff and family park visit to kick things off.

Four W’s Outdoors: $98,000

Hunting, Shooting, Fishing & Water/Boater Safety supports the delivery of multiple TPWD Hunter and Boater Education certificate programs, as well as archery and angler instructor trainings, for non-traditional participants. Guided field experiences are also offered, including mentored hunts, shooting and archery range sessions, campouts, introductory kayaking and coastal fishing excursions.

University of Houston/ Clear Lake: $80,562

The Outdoor Ed-Ventures program encourages economically disadvantaged girls and life skills students to gain confidence in the outdoors while learning new skills in archery, orienteering, birding, fishing, geocaching and overnight camping programs at various Texas State Parks.  College students will serve as interns to assist participants and gain outdoor education workforce experience.


Webb County: $91,251

The Webb County Outdoor Outreach Program removes obstacles for community youth to actively participate in outdoor recreation opportunities and to experience the natural beauty and facilities available to all Texans through the Texas State Park System. Park Interpreters will lead natural history programs and guided hikes at six unique parks, and students will complete a service project at Lake Casa Blanca State Park.


City of McAllen: $47,745

The McAllen Jr. Outdoor Adventures Program is a collaboration between the city’s Parks and Recreation and Public Utility departments that engages low-income children in summer camps featuring birdwatching, nature photography, fishing, kayaking and field trips to explore Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Program staff attend training to earn certification in TPWD’s Project WILD & Aquatic curriculums.


Stephen F Austin State University: $98,491

The East Texas Adventure Academy delivers exciting overnight expeditions to introduce middle school students to the outdoors while hiking, stargazing and canoeing at Mission Tejas, Caddo Lake and Tyler State Parks and other sites. Pre-service teachers certify in TPWD’s Project WILD curriculum training and lead conservation science activities, a park planning activity and service projects.


Housing Authority of Rockdale: $85,300

Rockdale Off-Road introduces low-income residents to sport fishing with no-cost visits to Buescher State Park and multi-day coastal fishing trips. Residents participate in TPWD’s Angler Instructor training program to master skills such as knot typing, fish cleaning, fish habitats and fishing regulations, and share this knowledge to lead a neighborhood learn-to-fish class.


Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center:  $86,420

Girls Outside partners with Austin ISD to engage minority and low-income girls in nature, offering opportunities to develop stewardship, leadership and outdoor skills during field trips to natural sites and McKinney Falls State Park. The program also engages teachers in TPWD’s Project WILD curriculum and additional professional development training.


City Kid Adventures: $100,000

City Kids Adventures Program brings inner city youth to the great outdoors by combining mentorship, camping, career exploration and outdoor skills. TPWD’s Hunter Education program is delivered with a large variety of guided hunts, as well as multi-day fishing camps and opportunities to learn kayaking, archery and mountain biking.

Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas: $46,231

Epilepsy & The Outdoors 2.0: Family Camping & Glamping for Women offers inclusive outdoor camping experiences to provide support and outdoor skills to individuals and families affected by epilepsy. The program partners with TPWD’s Texas Outdoor Family Learn to Camp workshops and outdoor leadership training.

Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas: $45,485

Picture Your World connects youth to the natural world with the camera lens at sites such as Government Canyon State Natural Area and with support from Alamo Area Master Naturalist volunteers. The program offers weekend workshops and programs for low-income schools, as well as a nature photography exhibition to encourage a creative approach to photography and promote environmental stewardship.

St. Mary’s University: $39,897

The Big Bend Ranch State Park Wilderness Retreat offers a transformative connection between spirituality and nature for students who are traditionally underrepresented in outdoor recreation. An intensive week of backpacking, camping and rafting in the remote wilderness combines to empower students to become sustainability advocates and then share their experiences during a campus wide presentation event.

City of San Antonio: $97,809

The Aim to Float project seeks to strengthen the minds and bodies of disadvantaged urban youth by connecting them to outdoor activities such as archery and kayaking on TPWD paddling trails. Program staff complete NASP archery instructor training with TPWD staff, as well as water and boater safety training.


Santa Rosa Independent School District: $91,579

ACE Outdoor Experiences facilitates field trips to Resaca de La Palma and Estero Llano Grande State Parks to introduce economically disadvantaged Hispanic youth to the natural world. The program also hosts a family glamping overnight trip at Garner State Park, a “Father and Me” Fishing Day and outdoor cooking event. Program staff will complete TPWD’s Project WILD training and Boater Safety Education Certification.


DIVA International: $88,428.00

The Lifelong Outdoor Recreation for Women and Youth program collaborates with TPWD’s Hunter Education and angler instructor programs to provide training and mentorship that cultivates a lifelong passion for outdoor recreation. Various skill level clinics focus on spin casting, fly fishing, archery, hunting and shooting skills instruction with opportunities for guided trips to develop confidence and mastery.

Visit the CO-OP program website for more information about grants and the program.

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