Founded by former First Lady Laura Bush and a board of actively engaged scientific experts, private landowners, conservationists, and businesspeople, Taking Care of Texas promotes the mutual benefits of economics and conservation. We build relationships between people who use natural resources and the people who have the know-how to plan and implement realistic conservation practices.
Former First Lady Laura Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care, human rights, and the preservation of our nation’s heritage. A hiking and outdoors enthusiast, Mrs. Bush encourages Americans to spend time in and care for our national parks. As honorary chair of the National Park Foundation, she visited more than 30 national parks and historic sites throughout the US and spotlighted the glories and needs of the parks. In 2006, Mrs. Bush announced President Bush’s designation of the largest single area dedicated to conservation in the history of the US, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.
Mrs. Bush continues to encourage Americans to appreciate and protect our country's national treasures and natural wonders. President and Mrs. Bush support native prairie restoration efforts and the education of Texans about the importance of conserving our state’s natural resources. The George W. Bush Presidential Center features a 15-acre native prairie landscape.
Katharine Armstrong is a fifth-generation Texan raised on her family’s South Texas cattle ranch. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and the mother of three grown children. Katharine was appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in 1999 by Governor Bush. In 2001, Governor Perry appointed her the first woman to lead the commission, on which she served as chair. She currently serves as president of an environmental consulting firm as well as a governmental affairs consulting firm in Austin. She serves as chair of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, co-chair of the South Texas Native Restoration Project, and director of the Texas Wildlife Association. Her passionate belief in private property rights and the integrity of private landowners as stewards of the natural resources of Texas guides her efforts. She is married to Ben Love, a rancher in West Texas.
Tina Buford is the first female president of the Texas Wildlife Association and the first president to be from the Rio Grande Valley. Prior to serving as president, she was a board member for eight years. Tina represents the sixth generation of the H. Yturria family to work the land, which now consists of commercial cattle and hunting operations. The family recently celebrated being in agriculture for more than 150 years. Buford is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a BS in Rangeland Ecology and Science and is a graduate of the Texas Christian University Ranch Management Program. She is a director of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and sustainer of the Junior League of Harlingen. She also serves on the Wildlife Committee of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association as well as the advisory board for the Kika de la Garza Plant Materials Center in Kingsville.
Regan Gammon has been a community volunteer and a nonprofit fundraiser for the past 35 years. She currently serves on the board of Sailors for the Sea as well as the advisory boards for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the South Texas Natives project. She is a founder of Taking Care of Texas. Regan has been a member of the National Park Foundation board and served as its citizen chair for two years. She is a founder of the Texas Book Festival and was chair of the board for three years. She has served as president of the Junior League of Austin and the St. Andrew's Episcopal School board. Regan and her husband, William, have two grown children. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.
Tamara Trail currently serves as principal consultant for programs and development of the Texas Wildlife Association. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and an MS in Rangeland Ecology and Agriculture Economics. Tamara worked on endangered species issues with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She gained an appreciation for conservation education while working for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. She then joined the staff of the Texas Wildlife Association and coordinated the development of its Conservation Legacy program. As a firm believer in the power of partnerships, she helped write the statewide strategic plan for the Texas Partnership for Children in Nature. She serves on the boards of the Texas Bighorn Society and the Texas Brigades, and is on the advisory board of the John Bunker Sands Memorial Wetland Center. She and her husband love sharing the outdoors with others and hope their three daughters will grow up with a similar love of the land and a passion for passing on our outdoor heritage.
Dr. Greg Schildwachter is a professional conservationist with 25 years’ experience in the policy, science, and management of land, water, fish, and wildlife. Based in Washington, DC, Greg is familiar with many communities and habitats across the country, including South Texas, where he worked for the Ocelot Recovery Program at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. Greg has a strong track record of producing agreements on policies that make sense for state, county, local, and private needs. Using his knowledge of policy and science on environmental issues, Greg has been an effective strategist and problem solver for businesses, charities, governments, and organizations. Greg chairs the Conference Task Force for Taking Care of Texas. He holds a degree in Wildlife Science from the Boone and Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program at the University of Montana as well as degrees from the University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia.
Dr. Neal Wilkins is President & CEO of the East Wildlife Foundation. Prior to joining the East Wildlife Foundation, Dr. Wilkins was a professor at Texas A&M University, where he directed the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute. Much of his work was dedicated to conservation and management of natural resources on private land through a combination of science, outreach, and policy innovation. Neal is a certified wildlife biologist with a BS in Forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University, an MS of Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida. He currently serves on the boards of directors for the Texas Wildlife Association (vice president since 2004), the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, and Houston Wilderness. He is a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council, a member of the Council on Sustainable Biofuels Production, and a member of the professional Boone and Crockett Club.
Mark Bivins is a native of Amarillo, Texas. He is involved with his family’s ranching and oil and gas operations. He graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in Communications. He is a former Commissioner of Texas Parks and Wildlife, as well as a current trustee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. He is a past chairman of the U. T. McDonald Observatory Board of Visitors and currently is a board member of the Harrington Fellows Program at the University of Texas. He was also appointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve on his Task Force for Economic Growth. Mark has served as President of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, is a past President of the Amarillo Area Foundation, and past chair and current board member of the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation. He lives in Amarillo with his wife, Ellen, and two children, Emily and Miles. He enjoys hunting, fishing and mountain biking.
Elaine Magruder is a fourth-generation Texan in the ranching and oil and gas industry. She is the President of Andector Exploration Company. She graduated from Regis University with a Masters in Non Profit Organization Management. Elaine currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the I-20 Wildlife Preserve and Jenna Welch Nature Study Center, Inc. in Midland, Texas. Her current focus is on restorative projects and stewardship for land in Texas both public and private with an emphasis on protection of playa lakes as recharge zones to protect ground water. She serves as a trustee on the Abell-Hanger Foundation. Elaine lives at Morning Star Farm and promotes water collection, reformulation of materials to provide mulch and compost for the gardens and vineyard.
Erin comes to Taking Care of Texas after serving for more than four years as the Executive Director of the Colorado River Foundation. In that role, she led the foundation’s efforts to raise funds to support and provide natural science education and outdoor recreation programs particularly for at-risk and underserved youth, as well as annual river cleanups and additional community projects to encourage better stewardship, awareness, and protection of the Colorado River in Texas. During her tenure, Erin expanded the agency, instituting ground-breaking science and conservation programs, increasing community partnerships and developing major new sources of funding. Erin brings a solid background in leadership, strategic planning and fundraising to her role as Executive Director of Taking Care of Texas. Erin is a member of the Austin chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Junior League of Austin. She is also a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southern Methodist University.
Whitney graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Renewable Natural Resources. Prior to joining Taking Care of Texas, Whitney worked as a legislative aide for Congresswoman Kay Granger in Washington, DC, where she handled agriculture appropriations and natural resources issues. She first became involved in conservation at age 14, when she attended the South Texas Buckskin Brigade. Whitney has since worked for the Texas Wildlife Association’s Texas Brigades program, interned in the executive office of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and studied natural resources conservation in South Africa. Whitney was a charter member of the Texas Wildlife Association’s Wildlife Intensive Leadership Development program and currently serves on its advisory committee. She is a member of the Junior League of Austin.