Dale Rollins figures he drove about a million miles in his career as an extension service biologist for the Texas A&M University system, what’s now called Texas AgriLife. Most of his trips were down seemingly endless West Texas highways. One December day in 1992, Rollins presented a program to the San Angelo Lion’s Club, and then headed for Childress (220 miles away) to talk with 4-H leaders. Along the way, he had an epiphany.
“As I drove along a lonely stretch of U.S. 83 between Aspermont and Guthrie, I contemplated that I could give such programs every day if I had the time and energy,” Rollins recalls. “Few of the programs required a PhD in wildlife management. I began mulling the idea of empowering youth as ambassadors for conservation awareness and the term ‘Bobwhite Brigade’ popped into my head.”
With the help of like-minded wildlife volunteers (and for the record, Rollins does have a PhD in wildlife management), Rollins organized the Bobwhite Brigade, a program that’s expanded to Texas Youth Brigades. The intense camps, usually held on large ranches, attract kids interested in quail, white-tailed deer, waterfowl, bass, and, new this year, ranch management for livestock. In 2014, seven Brigades are scheduled. Families who can’t afford the tuition can seek financial assistance.
About 2,600 “cadets” have already learned what it takes to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations.
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