We recently interviewed one of our founders and Executive Director of the Hill Country Conservancy– George Cofer. George explains why the preservation of the Texas Hill Country is important, and also discusses many other topics from being involved in the civic process to finding ways to adapt to the rapid growth of urban areas. Hill Country Conservancy is doing everything it can to preserve Mother Earth.
How has Give 5 helped Hill Country Conservancy in the past?
The revenues and support provided by Give 5 have helped the Hill Country Conservancy expand its programs and have provided us the opportunity to grow our audience through the exposure Give 5 creates. Through Give 5, we have been able to get the Hill Country Conservancy name and mission in front of more people in Austin’s business community and the community at-large.
Why should people care about your cause?
Most people in Austin care about the Texas Hill Country. Many people have had memorable experiences in the Hill Country, whether they spent time there camping, fishing, hiking, or just driving through to admire its beauty. At Hill Country Conservancy, the way that we preserve land in the Hill Country is through private stewardship. Ninety-seven percent of land in Texas is privately owned, and part of our mission is to work with private landowners to help keep families on their land and allow them to keep their farms. These farms provide food and give us a greater respect for ranching traditions. The other part of our mission is to get people out into nature, which is why we have started working on the Violet Crown Trail. Give 5 has made it possible for us to raise awareness for the Violet Crown Trail.
Do you see any negative effects from the constant construction and expansion of Austin’s urban areas?
Our core mission is to conserve the Texas Hill Country and to get landowners to preserve those special places. We try to be a resource to city councils by informing them about water resources and keeping them up-to-date on environmental concerns. We feel it is increasingly important to work both smarter and faster. We do not want to compete with urban growth, but rather we want to learn to adapt with the growth. We understand the built environment can add to the value of life, and what we want to do is continue to add to the value of life in Austin by encouraging a balance between green buildings and green spaces.
What can Austinites do today that you feel will contribute to the preservation of the Austin environment?
It is crucial to become informed about the issues, and everyone can help contribute to the preservation of the Austin environment. Volunteering in clean-up days throughout the year can be the start of becoming more involved with the environment. Observing Give 5 Day and pledging to “eat, shop and play” at participating businesses is a great way for individuals to support many nonprofits focused on maintaining the health of our local environment. And participating in the civic process on issues that pertain to the environment is a way to get involved— one that may often be overlooked.
Are there any cool projects being worked on now, or that are planned for this coming year?
The Violet Crown Trail is a regional trail system in Central Texas with the goal of creating a 30-mile-long trail that will provide a unique recreational experience in urban wild lands in Central Texas.
In May or June, we will begin constructing five more miles of the Violet Crown Trail. We are actively working with several land owners to help them preserve their lands as open space. We are also planning on being very active throughout the Give 5 campaign this year.
Any closing comments or thoughts?
The thing I like most about Give 5 Day is that all citizens can participate. Regardless of whether you have time to be involved with these issues every day, Give 5 Day is a way for every citizen to do their part and give back to Austin.