Our 2019 Big Give Recap
Amy Starling Rampy
nick blok, gabriela weber, hunter jayroe
2019’s Big Give day took place on September 27th and the theme this year was A Place to Raise Young. This was our last year to focus on the four essential elements of wildlife habitat as you might remember that our first three years focused on the other essential elements, Water, Food and Shelter.
It was a sweltering day in Texas and I think it is safe to say this was the hottest Big Give in TBG history. See below for details on how each of our cities spent the day.
Working with Athletes for Change, our Dallas team received donations from Most Dependable Drinking Fountains, SuperScapes and Gold Medal Pools. The support was much appreciated, and the team made an outstanding impact all in a day’s work!
They took an underutilized space on the Athletes for Change campus and transformed it into a gathering hub. They spread mulch for a seating area, installed a fence, built picnic tables, installed a water fountain and planted like they have never planted before! The improvements made the area feel like a much more welcoming space on the hot summer day.
By far, the most enjoyable part of the day was being able to work alongside the kids that will be using the space. The most complex, yet most rewarding, aspect of the project was installing the drinking fountain and by the end of the day everyone was rehydrated and able to nap in the shade of the new seating area.
The Fort Worth crew spent the day at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. They really hustled and in just a few hours they had dug a recess for a rainwater harvest tank and installed an 8’ t-post fence to extend the planting area around a greenhouse to protect it from deer. With equal parts sweat and strength, the group made a huge dent in work around the greenhouse and wrapped up with a design charrette. Working with the Nature Center, the team had open dialogue and collaborated to create a plan for the Greenhouse area that will bolster excitement around and ideally inspire contributions to the non-profit’s vision.
With a lofty goal of removing all non-native plants by 2024, Travis Audubon has its work cut out for them at the wild and wonderful Blair Woods Sanctuary. With a high temp of 99 that day, the TBG Austin group cut right through the 85% humidity with machetes and loppers hacking away at the invasive plants and making a huge dent towards Audubon’s goal.
Throughout the sweltering day, the team worked together to help re-establish a biodiverse woodland, prairie and riparian corridor.
Travis Audubon has worked hard in recent years on revitalized trails and educational signage on their 10-acre urban woodlands. The group enjoyed touring a historic barn built by Swiss immigrants who used the site as a dairy farm and finished out the day with lower impact trash clean up and hand watering saplings.
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is a federally protected refuge that protects one of the largest remnants of coastal prairie habitat in the greater Houston area. Never one to shy away from adventure, our Houston group trekked to Eagle Lake, Texas for the day.
To kick it off, the group had a guided tour where they learned about the work the Refuge is doing to ensure the existence of the endangered prairie chicken. For prairie chickens born in captivity, it’s important that they have a transition period to the refuge wildlife. Acclimation Pens support this transition, and this is the time of year for the refuge to break down acclimation pens so that they can rebuild them in other areas so predators can’t anticipate their location. The group deconstructed the pens in hopes of saving the sweet chickens from an untimely demise while also working to collect native seeds for use in re-establishment of additional coastal prairie acreage.
Our San Antonio crew used their design skills to develop a master plan for an outdoor courtyard at Castle Hills Elementary. The plan features raised garden beds, a stormwater garden and paths lined with edible fruits and butterfly attracting species. The team also drew up a native planting plan for their outdoor classroom, as they plan to implement this portion in the near future, and plan to help them install the plants once they’ve been purchased.
Now that we have completed 4 years of Big Give days dedicated to wildlife habitat, it is exciting to think about how our firmwide day dedicated to investing in our local communities will continue to evolve.
Many thanks to our community investment team, Alex Hobdy, Christie Holguin, Ian Dippo and Jessica Jacobs.