In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month, and every year we honor the extraordinary achievements of American women. TLC would like to honor a few of the women who have played a significant role in our organization’s work to protect land, water, and wildlife in Texas.
Charlotte Baker Montgomery (1910-2009)
Charlotte Baker Montgomery donated 15 acres in Nacogdoches to TLC upon her death in 2009, but throughout her life she had a strong passion for protecting the voiceless – both domesticated and wild animals, plant communities and the nature of East Texas. She used her talents as an artist and writer to inspire others to consider their natural surroundings in their everyday lives. She published 21 books for animal lovers and children, numerous short stories, poems, instructional articles and play adaptations, and she illustrated many of her own books, and three books written by her mother, Karle Wilson Baker.
Ivy Payne (1912-1987)
Ivy Payne was a dedicated advocate for East Texas plants and wildlife. Over her lifetime, she accumulated over 450 acres of woodlands in East Texas and, upon her death, donated them to TLC to become a nature preserve. Ivy’s years of business experience working for the Texas Railroad Commission and Exxon paid off as she insisted that oil and utility companies wanting access through the property build trails and bridges in return, providing ways for visitors to experience the beauty of the property. Located in Elkhart, Texas, the Ivy Payne Wildlife Refuge will be open to camping and interpretive hikes during the City of Palestine’s Dogwood Trails Celebration (April 6-8) and we hope that you will join us!
Katherine Goodbar (1921-2014)
Katherine Goodbar served as a TLC board member and was the original stewardship director (as a volunteer) for many years. Like our two full-time stewardship directors today, she visited our many preserves across the state to ensure the conditions of the voluntary conservation agreements were upheld. She also led many guided tours of the Big Thicket and lobbied for its protection as a federal biological sanctuary. She was also a former high school science teacher and her work included frequent field trips that introduced thousands of students to the wonders of the outdoors.
Genie Fritz, alongside her husband Ned, was pivotal in the creation of the our very own organization, Texas Land Conservancy, then the Natural Area Preservation Association. Together, they also founded the Texas Conservation Alliance (formerly Texas Committee on Natural Resources or TCONR), fought for forestry management, and preserved the habitat of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Not only did Genie have an impact in the field of conservation, she has been long-engaged in social justice issues and women’s rights. She was president of the Dallas League of Women’s Voters, on the board of the Texas League of Women Voters, president of the Women’s Southwest Federal Credit Union, president of the Greater Dallas Housing Opportunity, and a board member of the Tejas Council of Girl Scouts, where she led two troops. Genie had an extraordinary career outside the home, all while raising four daughters, and creating a legacy that she, along with Ned, has left us.
Maxine Johnston has served as a tireless advocate for the Big Thicket and worked diligently to have it establish as the Big Thicket National Preserve (BTNP), the first-ever National Preserve in the National Park System. She was president of the Big Thicket Association and served for many years as a volunteer and chair of TLC’s Marysee Prairie Preserve stewardship committee. Maxine will be honored later this month by Audubon Texas as a 2018 Terry Hershey Award Honoree, which celebrates Texas women in conservation.
From organizing prescribed burn crews and monitoring protected properties to donating acres of irreplaceable habitat and providing leadership, these are just a few of the women who have made a difference in protecting our natural resources in Texas to insure the state’s wildlife, plant communities, and landscapes that we enjoy today are here for future generations to enjoy. Let’s take a moment to remember and celebrate the women who have dedicated their lives to conservation in Texas!