Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   

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From the Pen of Carter P. Smith

As a native son, I could not ask for a greater and more humbling privilege than to introduce myself to all of you as the new executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

It goes without saying that I am following on the heels of a group of rather distinguished Texas conservationists. Over my career, I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing the last three directors - Dickie Travis, Andy Sansom and Bob Cook. In their own inimitable ways, they, along with their predecessors, have each shaped the future of our fish, wildlife and parks for generations to come. I am honored to join their ranks in working on your behalf for our great outdoors.

I suspect it may be customary for the "new guy" in his inaugural column to share a few words about a subject that I usually loathe addressing - myself. I'll resist the reticence and offer some context on what brought me to this wonderful place. Perhaps not surprisingly for all of you who share my love for Texas' lands and waters, it goes back to my youth.

Like any good Texas kid who grew up with one foot always out the back door, I spent a disproportionate amount of my youth on our family farm and ranch cornering horned lizards, calling coyotes, sitting perched in precarious tree stands over worn game trails, following flocks of cedar waxwings as they cleared out the yaupon and juniper berries, pass-shooting doves over shallow stock tanks, and listening for the first wave of geese and sandhill cranes overhead in the fall. I cherished my time out of doors and, not surprisingly, developed an early kinship with this department.

Growing up, I read this magazine from cover to cover for ideas on book reports and class projects. I relished my time with our local game wardens, so I could ask them where the poachers were and where the deer had gone. I besieged the rather tolerant wildlife biologist in our area with innumerable questions about turkey roosts and rattlesnake dens and other matters of great importance to this teenager. Ultimately, I was fortunate enough to understand how to make this passion my profession, so I went out in search of degrees in wildlife management and conservation biology.

My first job out of school was with this department. In the early '90s, I worked for two years in the private lands and public hunting programs. During that time, I met some wonderful mentors, a number of whom are still with TPWD and a number of others who fortunately haven't gone far. Between then and now, I have covered a little ground working up in New England, in the boreal forests of Saskatchewan, on my beloved Katy Prairie and, most recently, for the Texas Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where I was for the last eight years. My career in conservation has been rewarding beyond measure.

I'm here today to join a remarkable team of colleagues, partners and supporters who share my sentiments that the Texas of tomorrow will be a much better place with bountiful wild things and wild places in it for all of us to enjoy. I think our grandparents would be proud of such a vision, and I know our grandchildren will be grateful for such a gift.

Thank you for caring for, and about, the future of Texas' great outdoors. I look forward to serving you and the state of Texas in this new capacity.

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