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Person standing on the rocky edge of a misty lake

Phil Lewis 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Our Work

We cannot succeed in protecting the lands, waters, night skies, and communities of the Hill Country if we are not engaging with the full diversity of the communities we aim to serve.

We recognize there are numerous groups and communities within the Hill Country that we have not historically engaged, and for whom our reach and impact have been limited. We also recognize that there are systems of power that grant access and privilege unequally across lines of race, gender, age, class, language and ability. Ignoring those inequities, the factors that lead to them, and our own shortcomings will prevent us from ever being truly successful.

As a community-centered organization, it is our responsibility to actively seek out connections and partnerships. HCA is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion-based solutions that promote healthy natural resources and thriving communities for ALL Central Texans.

Read on to explore some of our resources, relevant updates, and recent news on equity in the outdoors and the broader conservation movement.

Texas Hill Country Conservation Network: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

The Hill Country Alliance is proud to serve as the backbone organization for the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network, a partnership of dozens of organizations focused on maximizing the protection of natural resources. Following the summer protests of 2020, the Network began having conversations on what role our collaborative plays in ameliorating or perpetuating racial and other injustices.

The committee is currently finalizing a request for proposals to hire a consultant to guide an internal review and the development of a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy and plans to begin that work in earnest in the spring of 2021. Relevant outcomes and resources will be shared on the HCA site in the near future. Committee members include:

HCA Resource Spotlight

As we seek to build a vibrant future for the communities and natural resources of the Hill Country, it is critical that we do so in a way that engages with and reflects the full diversity of the region. Across the 17 counties of the Hill Country, there are many groups, organizations, and individuals  working to engage our communities in important conservation work, one person at a time. The below panels were recorded during the 2020 Hill Country Leadership Summit in order to inspire, share advice and resources, and shine a spotlight some of the folks “doing the work.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Conservation in the Hill Country: Why it Matters and Where to Start

This panel explores why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important for the conservation movement broadly, and how organizations can start or continue their journeys to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Panelists: David Buggs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Sapna Mulki, Water Savvy Solutions; Rocío Villalobos, City of Austin Equity Office; Emily Warren, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Moderator: Vanessa Escobar, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District and Hill Country Alliance Board Member

Cultivating a Hill Country for All: Inspiring Stewardship, Conservation, and Communication

This panel spotlights some of the groups working to spread positive messages of conservation and stewardship and examines what it takes to connect and inspire the hearts and minds of diverse, young audiences across the region.

Panelists: Justine Salsbury, Shield Ranch Foundation/El Ranchito Summer Camp; Amelia DeVivo, Austin Youth River Watch; April Sansom, Bamberger Ranch; Josie Gutiérrez, San Antonio Chapter, Latino Outdoors; Alex Bailey, H. E. Butt Foundation
Moderator: Leah Cuddeback, Hill Country Alliance

Additional Resource Spotlights

Recent Equity in the Outdoors News

All in the Family

Bryan Parras recalls a time in elementary school when he accompanied his dad on a work trip to Nederland, in Texas’ Golden Triangle. The warehouse where his dad organized county…

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Helpful Links and Documents

Helpful Resource Lists and Organizations