Texas has a long history of private land ownership where 95 percent of the state is privately owned. The role of landowners as stewards of our state’s private lands and the public benefits derived from them is paramount. Most often successful land stewardship begins when natural resource professionals convey good land stewardship practices and techniques to private landowners.

As part of the Private Land Stewardship program and through collaboration with the Noble Foundation and East Foundation, NRI offers Private Land Stewardship Academies as a professional development opportunity to enhance natural resource professionals’ expertise in applying private land stewardship. These week-long, field-based academies are taught by leading experts in the field and review strategies for addressing private land challenges as well as current and future emerging issues in natural resources and private land conservation. The program offers valuable “hands-on” experiences to natural resource practitioners.

We have developed and hosted in partnership with the Center for Private Land Stewardship five Private Land Stewardship Academies. We hosted one academy for 13 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agents, and one for 25 Texas NRCS conservationists. We also assisted Noble Foundation with three academies for 125 NRCS conservationists from 30 states.

In addition to in-person training as we adapt to the virtual learning landscape, NRI is building a community of practice around land stewardship for the outdoor enthusiasts and private landowners alike with mini-experiences and interactive publications developed from materials created during face-to-face training and presentations. These private land stewardship publications are meant for everyone from the classroom to the field. They meet the learner where and how they want to explore the information.

Since the launch of these interactive publications, we've seen our communities band together to recreate education so that it can be available in new ways. These virtual publications came about as a charge to take existing materials from previous presentations, from flash drives, or publications collecting dust on shelves, and shake them up so that anyone on the other side of a screen anywhere in the world could access them. 

You can find and share these anytime. Click, open, explore, shuffle through the content and save up the information. You can quiz your knowledge gained at the end; a great component for classrooms and youth learning environments especially. 

Hop into the decks here:

Natural Resources Management Natural Resources Management
Vegetation and Landscape Vegetation and Landscape
Wildlife Wildlife
Threatened and Endangered Species Threatened and Endangered Species


 We'll continue to make these experience decks available to stewards of the land, wildlife and discovery to bridge the gap from urban and classroom audiences to rural communities and private land in Texas and beyond. 



Brittany Wegner

As a program manager for partnerships for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Brittany works with our partners to build strategies to grow the recognition and use of sound science, expanding conversations around co…

Shelby McCay

Shelby joined the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute in August 2017 as a student technician and now serves as a Project Coordinator II. As a part of the engagement team, her work focuses on managing and expanding the I…

Abigail Holmes

Abigail joined the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute in April 2017 as a student assistant. She currently works as a Project Coordinator for a variety of projects, but she was instrumental in creating resources for the…

Josh Helcel

Josh Helcel is a project coordinator with the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute (NRI). He specializes in educational programming and providing technical assistance to landowners and others seeking to control expanding…

Jim Cathey

Dr. Jim Cathey is an associate director for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. Jim is a regional and national expert in wildlife management, Extension outreach and programming, feral hog management and conservatio…


    Guide to grazing matters

    Grazing is a powerful tool for improving the health of plants and the soil supporting them when it’s managed correctly. Read these adapted remarks by NRI's Dr. James Cathey from the Private Lands Summit hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association.

    MJ Hanna hosts plant contest

    The first MJ Hanna Foundation Range and Pasture Plant Identification and Range Evaluation contests drew 57 contestants from all over Texas.

    Conserving private lands conserves water

    Former President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “Saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls.”

    In Texas, where about 95 percent of the land is privately owned, and 83 percent of that land is rural farms, ranches and forests, it is essential that all Texans understand the interconnection of land and water to ensure the healthy stewardship of both, according to natural resource professionals.

      Blog Posts

      Resource: Soil Carbon 101

      Check out this new handout to help landowners and managers determine if soil carbon storage markets are right for you. Thank you to our partners at the Noble Research Institute, Texas Grazing Lands Coalition, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and AgriLife Extension for your support in developing this resource. 

      What is a Conservation Easement?

      As open space land in Texas is constantly changing and repurposed to support our growing populations and urban areas, have you ever wondered what would happen if land wasn't so easily fragmented? What if the private land you own or have spent time on stayed as it is forever?

      1-d-1 Wildlife Tax Valuation - Protecting Texas Today, for Texans Tomorrow

      Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in collaboration with the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society (TCTWS) and the James G. Teer Conservation Leadership Institute, released their new video 1-d-1 Wildlife Tax Valuation – Protecting Texas Today, for Texans Tomorrow earlier this spring to build awareness and recognition for the private landowners who carry the weight of conservation and land stewardship in Texas. 

      What Landowners Need to Know: The Endangered Species Act in Texas

      The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) is a critical piece of legislation related to the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems. This lesson provides historical context, a step-by-step look at the listing process, details on how this legislation impacts private landowners, and resources and opportunities for Texans.

      Private Land Stewardship Academies: Vegetation and Landscapes

      We're building a community of practice around land stewardship where you can click, open, explore, shuffle and share the content to save and use as you need it. We're excited to share the third of four collections with you—out now: Vegetation and Landscapes.

      Private Land Stewardship Academies: Wildlife Management

      We're building a community of practice around land stewardship where you can click, open, explore, shuffle and share the content to save and use as you need it. We're excited to share the second of four collections with you—on deck: Wildlife Management.

      The Spring 2021 Sourcebook: Volume 2, Issue 1

      From the field to your desk, the Spring 2021 NRI Sourcebook is here — a digital collection complete with the recently accepted peer-reviewed scientific publications, research reports, and resources developed to support the improvement of conservation, natural resource management and private land stewardship.

      Behind the Scenes: Leopold Live Chapter 2

      We've officially kicked off filming for Leopold Live!: Chapter 2 and we're excited to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at what's coming up in the next few months from new stewardship practices to practical knowledge to keep in your back pocket. 

      Private Land Stewardship Academies: Natural Resource Management

      We're building a community of practice around land stewardship where you can click, open, explore, shuffle and share the content to save and use as you need it. We're excited to share four collections with you—first up: Natural Resource Management.

      2021 Soil Stewardship Week: Healthy forests, healthy communities

      NRI has partnered with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Association of Texas Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to highlight Soil and Water Stewardship Week and the importance of voluntary land stewardship in Texas. The statewide campaign is April 25 through May 2, 2021, and the focus this year is “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.

      Leopold Live launching in one week

      If clinging to routines is what keeps us moving forward in these unusual times, consider this a hat tip to the creativity spurred on by our need to connect and teach in-person. Leopold Live! is here. 

      A land stewardship experience dispatch

      We're building a community of practice around land stewardship from the wings that fly above to the water trickling through the soil. Check out this peek into the 22 mini-decks you can dive into today.

      Landowner Loop: tending the soil first

      We do know that thorough conservation is more than applied science and collaboration; it requires the stewardship of discovery and the constant observational loop, if you will, where we go back to the space of application and learn the sequence of science. So, instead of a Private Land Stewardship vignette or a publication to aid in your efforts today, we're learning from landowners in our continued series called "Landowner Loop", where we keep tools in the field and feedback loops open.

      Landowner loop: D.I.Y. game feeder corral trap for wild pigs

      Conservation biology and land management are research cornerstones at NRI, and we're fortunate to be able to build sound-science resources for private and public entities across the U.S. But it's no surprise when working lands comprise more than 82% of Texas's land area that our largest end-users are private landowners, working heuristically to solve natural resource challenges. 

      Resources for new landowners: Vegetation

      After reviewing the complexities of soil management, gaining knowledge about vegetation is the next crucial step in a new landowner’s management education. Let's dive into the different plant ID resources at your disposal and take an intentional look at the uses of vegetation for wildlife and practical ways to manage your property to encourage the right kind of plant growth.

      Spotlight on Quail Predators: Raptors

      Raptors, a.k.a. “birds of prey,” include eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and many other species. The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapio, meaning to seize or take by force; this is quite apt as raptors will often swoop down and seize prey with their large talons. But which species are the main predators of quail?

      Resources for New Landowners: Soil Management

      Private Land Stewardship is a core component of our mission at the NRI, and our goal is to provide landowners with the resources they need to better care for their land. For new or future landowners, the best time to gather knowledge and information is before making management decisions that will have lasting effects on the land. Thinking of well-managed land conjures up images of lush, green fields and healthy wildlife populations, but it is important to stop and consider where it all begins—with the cultivation of healthy soils.

      Benefits of Multispecies Management on Private Lands

      Not surprisingly, about 94% of Texas is privately owned—84% of that land is considered working lands (farm, range and timberland) making private landowners the stewards with the largest influence over natural resources compared to public lands. As we watch Texas experience the largest inter-generational change in landownership ever experienced, how landowners continue the legacy of land management is up to them, making education the first priority.

      Long Acres Ranch: Demonstrating Native Grassland Restoration

      At Long Acres Ranch in Richmond, TX, we are looking forward to the response of native grasses and forbs planted in a demonstration field in the spring of 2018. We would love to jump to the future and see the results of our 30-acre planting that is full of potential for a variety of life. Even so, we know we will have to wait. As the saying goes, native grasses seem to sleep the first year as they develop their root systems, they creep in the second year with a little more obvious growth, and if we are lucky with rainfall, they leap with growth in the third year. 

      Private Land Stewardship and Plants

      The plant community on a property determines what habitat types are available for wildlife and how it can be grazed, so familiarity with those plants is essential for any land steward. Here we provide tips and tools that will help you learn to recognize your resident plant species and incorporate that knowledge into an effective management plan.

      Private Land Stewardship Starts with Soils

      Soils are the foundation of healthy habitat and can make or break any land management plan. Regional differences in soil structure and composition play a major role in determining which management strategies will succeed or fail, and familiarity with your soil is the first step toward meeting your land stewardship goals. Here we provide contacts and resources to help you take that step.

      Institute hosts tax appraiser, assessor training

      A recent tax appraiser and tax assessor training for land management for wildlife and livestock was a success, according to Brian Hays, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute (NRI) program manager.

      “The 34 participants attending found the training useful and unanimously agreed the information presented would help them in their job,” Hays said.

      Soil and Water Stewardship Week highlights importance of land conservation

      To highlight the importance of voluntary land stewardship in Texas, the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute (NRI) are partnering with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. The statewide campaign, “No Land No Water ™,” is the theme of this year’s Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 30 through May 7.

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