We are of nature and it is in us. That’s the premise of a new long-format audio podcast from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department called Under the Texas Sky. Former KUT-FM Austin (NPR) host and current Passport to Texas radio series producer Cecilia Nasti is “audio sherpa” of the new podcast, which presents stories about nature and the outdoors through experiences of everyday people, as well as via experts inside and outside the agency.
A series of podcasts in 2019 will feature the audio diaries of 20-something-year-old siblings Cassandra and Christopher Neve of Austin. With the onset of adulthood and its responsibilities, the siblings lost touch with nature, but plan to spend 2019 reconnecting to it. Their story reflects a broader experience for many people living in cities today. They grew up with connections to the natural world as kids, but grew away from it as they got older.
“After going to college and, you know, finding a job and attempting to be an adult, you tend to just focus on that: work and school—if you’re going to school—and sleep, and then doing it all over again,” said Cassandra Neve, a Human Geography teacher at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville. “The most outdoors stuff that I do now is go to my local park and walk my dogs. I’m definitely not as adventurous as I used to be.”
Christopher and Cassandra’s story is not unusual, according Amy Sugeno of Austin, a former wildlife biologist turned licensed clinical social worker and Eco-Therapist. In the first podcast episode, Sugeno talks through ways people can overcome common outdoor anxieties and reconnect with nature. And Texas Children in Nature Coordinator Jennifer Bristol gives tips for getting outside.
“I always tell people: put nature on the calendar, like everything else you do,” Bristol says in the podcast. “We’re all so busy, so put it on the calendar, and make time for your health. If you’re looking for something to do, and you’re not really sure what to do, see the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, where we list statewide options—from camping to picnicking, to learning how to use a stand-up paddle board. We want people to get outdoors, and there are so many great ways to enjoy that.”
Another early episode features the fascinating role of pollinators like bees and butterflies, why they’re important for people as well as ecosystems, how they’re threatened and how people can help. The series mixes fun recreation in the outdoors plus conservation science and natural history.
Listeners can stream or download the podcast at underthetexassky.org, or find it on major podcast platforms. Under the Texas Sky is made possible through the support of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.