AUSTIN – After a two-year hiatus, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is proud to announce that the Texas State Parks Ambassador Program will relaunch in early 2022. The program will begin accepting Ambassadors applications for Central and West Texas State Parks on Dec. 15.
Texas State Parks Ambassadors are a diverse group of conservation-minded young adult volunteers between the ages of 18 and30 that are paired with a Texas State Park to help foster a new generation of outdoor stewards. The program seeks to attract a younger audience to Texas State Parks to continue the conservation of Texas’ wild things and wild places for years to come.
“Connecting young and diverse audiences with service and recreation opportunities in our state parks is more crucial now than ever,” said Samantha Toback, Texas State Park Ambassador Program Coordinator. “It is especially important considering the recent substantial increase in visitation to our state parks and the approaching centennial of Texas State Parks in 2023.”
Those interested in joining the program must first fill out their application, indicate the parks they would like to be paired with, and then the top candidates will be selected for an interview. The final group that are selected as Texas State Parks Ambassadors will then be required to attend Ambassador Leadership Training before beginning their six-month Ambassadorship. During that time, Ambassadors will complete 40 hours of hands-on service, community outreach, and social media projects for their parks.
The five-day Ambassador Leadership Training for the new cohort of Central and West Texas Ambassadors will take place in March 2022. During the training, new Ambassadors will be introduced to park interpretation, outdoor education programming like Project Wild, provided tips on how to be a successful Ambassador, and will also get to participate in activities like kayaking, backpacking, mountain biking, and more.
While previous outdoor experience and a desire for a career in natural resources is not required, the Texas State Parks Ambassador program has led 27 previous Ambassadors into careers with TPWD.
“Going into the Ambassador program, I had no idea how much it would change my outlook on life or that I would end up where I am today as a result,” said Steven Simmons, former Ambassador, and current Park Operations Trainee at Tyler State Park. “For young adults looking to gain rewarding and valuable experiences with TPWD, the Ambassador program provides vast amounts of networking, support, and allows you to make lifelong friendships that help you to grow personally and professionally.”
Applications for Central and West Texas Ambassadors open Dec. 15 and close on Jan. 26 and must be submitted online. The six-month term for new Ambassadors will begin April 1 and run through Oct. 1. Applications for the Panhandle and North Texas region will open in February, along with South and East Texas applications in August. Those interested in applying must be between the ages of 18-30 and have a high school diploma. Applications from anyone who turned 30 in 2020 and 2021, during the program’s two-year hiatus, will also be accepted.