Texas Civics Ambassadors Program
Board members Diane Phalen and Susan Hanson represented SMGA at the Texas Civics Ambassadors Program at First Lutheran Church on Friday, March 6. Organized by Texas State student Tegan Debrock, the event brought together San Marcos leaders from a variety of special interests–civic concerns and culture, indigenous issues and concerns of people of color, LGBTQ interests, and environmental concerns.
The night began with conversation within separate interest groups. In addition to Susan and Diane, those participating from environmental groups included Kelly Eby (City Forester), Rachel Sanborn (River Foundation), Rob Dussler (Meadows Center), Conrad Chappell (Discovery Center), and John Killough (Environmental Conservation Organization, Texas State). Among the topics they discussed were river protection, the expansion of green space, water quality, flood mitigation, the importance of tree canopy, park and natural areas management, trail cleanliness, removal of invasive species, and communication with the university.
Following these round-table discussions, each group presented a list of concerns and goals to the other participants.
The evening ended with an open exchange of ideas among all the interest groups, which included Mayor Jane Hughson, City Council member Ed Mihalkanin, and Mario Garza and Maria Rocha from the Indigenous Cultures Institute. Also represented were the League of Women Voters, the Women’s Political Caucus, and the XYZ Club (San Marcos High School’s LGBTQ organization). The two-hour event proved to be a great opportunity for networking and exchanging information.
SMGA representatives came away with a number of good ideas and resources not only for dealing with the problem of dog waste on the trails but also for engaging Texas State students in SMGA activities.
The Texas Civic Ambassadors (TCA) program in which Tegan Debrock is participating is part of the New Politics Forum at the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication. According to its website, “TCA seeks to identify and cultivate the next generation of civic leaders.During their year of service, each ambassador supports the Institute’s mission of enhancing civic life on their campus or in their community. This year-long program focuses heavily on service learning and leadership. Ambassadors are tasked with completing independently-led educational outreach projects and attending leadership development workshops and trainings throughout the year.”