Theodore Roosevelt’s contributions to wildlife conservation and land stewardship are monumental, and their products have blessed future generations with many benefits. Now it is up to the present generation to preserve the wildlife and land for those generations to come, just as Roosevelt did.
This past summer I had the honor of participating as a cadet of the Texas Brigades as a member of the South Texas Buckskin Brigade. Interested in wildlife ever since I was able to harvest my first deer, I had always looked at wildlife from the hunting aspect alone but never from a conservation perspective. That is, until I met Terry Anderson, an East Texas wildlife biologist and Texas Wildlife Association executive director, who introduced me to the role of the conservation of natural resources and land stewardship. Anderson has influenced my view of conservation immensely and to further my interest, he introduced me to the Texas Brigades.
My experience with the Texas Brigades, in summary, was nothing short of awesome, amazing, spectacular, and life changing. It is nearly impossible to list everything the cadets were taught at the South Texas Buckskin Brigade, which focused on whitetail deer.
We covered subjects including plant ID and habitat evaluation, anatomy and physiology of whitetail deer, aging and scoring, technology in wildlife management, surveying techniques, firearm safety and shooting skills, public speaking and media skills, as well as critical thinking and life skills. From what I had read prior to attending the Brigades, I had expected all of these courses but not anywhere near the depth and involvement that the camp provided. The instructors were great in handling these new “bird dog pups”, as Dr. Dale Rollins would say, and helping us understand the great role and importance of conservation of land and wildlife all over Texas.
Theodore Roosevelt was one of the greatest conservation leaders in American history, alongside others such as Aldo Leopold. Roosevelt’s contributions to wildlife conservation and land stewardship are monumental, and their products have blessed future generations with many benefits. Now it is up to the present generation to preserve the wildlife and land for those generations to come, just as Roosevelt did. However, in today’s world, where video games and technology have enveloped the interest of most of today’s generation, the future for land stewardship and conservation may seem bleak. Education and leadership in natural resource conservation is necessary to the future of any country, no matter how great or how small. As Roosevelt’s cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said, “The history of every nation is eventually written by the way in which it cares for its soils.” Conservation is necessary for the future of any nation. To preserve that future, the people need to be educated and taught that conservation is necessary, and the results of its application or non-application are consequential either for good or bad. The future of conservation is in the hands of the people, and their idleness serves only to destroy. As Teddy Roosevelt observed, “Conservation is a great moral issue for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”
The frontline of conservation has had many stalwart leaders, but there continues to be a need for new leaders to take the helm and support the cause. Conservation ambassadors are necessary to educate the public in order to preserve our future in hunting heritage, private property rights, and natural resources.
The Texas Brigades’ mission is to educate and empower youths with leadership skills and knowledge in wildlife, fisheries, and land stewardship so that they become conservation ambassadors for a sustained natural resource legacy. In just four and a half days of camp, the Texas Brigades lays the foundation of a conservation mind-set for youths who will carry on that message to the public. History and reality warn us that man must conscientiously strive to live in harmony with nature and strike a balance between resource development and conservation. Whether through courses in habitat management and evaluation or lessons in population dynamics and herd management, the importance of conservation was apparent in every aspect at the South Texas Buckskin Brigade.
The Texas Brigades instills in its cadets a passion for the conservation of land and property, the continuance of our hunting heritage, and the preservation of wildlife. Cadets who have attended these camps will be some of the first to step up and defend conservation and its rights. The Texas Brigades are preparing a generation of young men and women who are concerned for the future of our land; they are “raising Roosevelts”. As Roosevelt asserted, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.” Texas Brigade cadets, past and present, are prepared to preserve the future of wildlife and the land for the generations to come. Teddy Roosevelt left a legacy of conservation. The Texas Brigades are “raising Roosevelts” so that they can leave legacies of conservation for the betterment of the future of our nation and its resources.