OLE! Texas Partners

OLE! Texas is a statewide initiative that is organized by Texas Department of State Health Services Obesity Prevention Program. It is led by a leadership team composed of Texas state agencies, universities, professional organizations and nonprofits and informed by local chapter developments. Leadership Team member organizations and local chapter organizing agencies work within their own organization and collaboratively to advance resources and support for ECEs to implement quality outdoor spaces. Learn more about the Leadership Team and local chapter partners’ contribution below.

Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is a scientific research and learning center focused on conservation. As a part of OLE! Texas, BRIT offers professional development and a learning network for early childhood educators. BRIT’s education team offers field trips, in-classroom programs and outreach for early childhood and beyond. BRIT is also the coordinating agency for the OLE! Texas DFW Chapter local coalition.

For more information, contact:

Harris County Public Health (HCPH)

Harris County Public Health provides comprehensive health services and programs. Through Healthy Living Matters, HCPH integrates OLE! Texas best practices to childcare centers in Harris County. HCPH has six childcare centers as OLE! Texas pilot sites, three in Pasadena and three in Baytown. HCPH develops best-practices, builds relationships with key partners, and educates about nature-play at conferences. 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides programs, tools and resources that teach people how to improve agriculture and food production, advance health practices, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enrich youth. As a part of OLE! Texas, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension connects early childhood facilities and organizational partners with educational resources related to health, environment and youth development via their network of specialists, professional educators and volunteers.

For more information, contact: jodi.nerren@ag.tamu.edu

Texas Association for the Education of Young Children

The Texas Association for the Education of Young Children educates, celebrates, and advocates for children, families, and early childhood professionals through membership activities and programs supporting high quality early childhood education. As a part of OLE! Texas, TXAEYC ensures that ECE providers have outdoor learning environment best practice sessions at TXAEYC conferences. 

For more information, contact: taeyc@texasaeyc.org or 512-215-8142.

Texas Children in Nature Network (TCiNN)

Texas Children in Nature Network works with over 500 partners across the state to ensure access and connection to nature for children and Texans of all ages. Children who play and learn outside are healthier, happier, and smarter. TCiNN contributes to OLE! Texas by working with partners across the state to convene stakeholders and connect interested parties in the initiative. In addition, TCiNN serves with the Nature, Communications and Austin groups.

For more information, contact: scoles@texaschildreninnature.org or 512-434-0815.

Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)

The Texas Department of Agriculture supports OLE! Texas through Commissioner Sid Miller’s Farm Fresh Initiative. Garden-based and outdoor learning experiences help children gain readiness to try and accept new foods through hands-on and tasting activities. TDA also oversees the administration of 12 nutrition assistance programs including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP provides reimbursement for high quality meals to eligible children participating in child care centers statewide.

For more information, contact FarmFresh@TexasAgriculture.org.

Texas Department of State Health Services – Children with Special Health Care Needs Systems Development Group (CSHCN)

The Children with Special Health Care Needs Systems Development Group at the Texas Department of State Health Services works to strengthen community-based services to improve systems of care for children and youth with special health care needs. CSHCN promotes intentional inclusion of children with special health care needs in all aspects of OLE! Texas.

For more information, contact: cshcnsdg@dshs.texas.gov

Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Texas Education Agency oversees the public education of more than five million students. TEA’s Early Childhood Education Division promotes outdoor learning as a part of the development of prekindergarten through second grade students to enhance a child’s positive view of nature and the outdoors.

For more information, contact: lauren.gomez@tea.texas.gov

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Child Care Regulation (CCR)

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Child Care Regulation inspects and regulates child care operations to make sure they meet state-set health and safety standards. As a part of OLE! Texas, CCR provides guidance to partners on how to align with the health and safety standards set for child care operations.

For more information, contact: msc@hhsc.state.tx.us or 800-862-5252.

Texas Nursery and Landscape Association (TNLA)

Texas Nursery and Landscape Association attracts green industry professionals because they advocate, cultivate, collaborate, educate and motivate their members. They have a record of cultivating successful businesses within Texas' Green Industry. TNLA has contributed to the OLE! Texas initiative by its leadership on child friendly plants and practices as well as industry awareness of OLE! Texas essential knowledge. View the Best of Texas Plant Database that TNLA established for OLE! Texas to highlight child friendly plants.

For more information, contact: education@tnlaonline.org or 512-579-3860.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages and conserves the state’s natural and cultural resources for present and future generations. The department also promotes safe, legal and ethical outdoor behavior and provides nature-based outdoor opportunities for all Texans. TWPD contributes to the OLE! Texas initiative through providing Growing Up Wild trainings to ECE teachers, calling attention to the need for native plants in ECE outdoor landscapes, promoting design best practices in parks and supporting marketing and branding efforts for the initiative.

For more information contact: melissa.alderson@tpwd.texas.gov or 512-389-8060.

Texas Tech University (Lubbock)

Texas Tech Coalition for Natural Learning (CNL) is an award-winning, multidisciplinary collaboration between Texas Tech University, Texas state agencies, departments, and organizations. CNL promotes learning environments through research, teaching, implementation, collaboration, and feedback. Through the CNL, TTU contributes to OLE! Texas by engaging with communities in Texas through design workshops, designer training, teacher training, publications, serving as a resource “hub,” among other related activities. TTU is also the coordinating agency for OLE! Texas Lubbock Chapter local coalition.

For more information, contact:

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)

Texas Workforce Commission’s Child Care & Early Learning Division increases access to high-quality child care, promotes early learning and fosters long-term economic self-sufficiency for Texas families. TWC administers Texas Rising Star, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care programs. Early learning programs that are certified as Texas Rising Star provide intentional outdoor learning environments and experiences for the children in their care.

For more information, contact: childcare.programassistance@twc.state.tx.us

University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Wildflower Center

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s mission is to inspire the conservation of native plants through its gardens, research, education, consulting and outreach programs. The Wildflower Center contributes to OLE! Texas by providing nature play education and outdoor learning designs for ECE professionals. LBJWC is also the coordinating agency for the OLE! Texas Austin Chapter local coalition. 

For more information, contact: education@wildflower.org or 512-232-0100.

University of Texas School of Public Health

The mission of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the University of Texas School of Public Health is to advance health and healthy living for children and families through cutting-edge research, innovative community-based programs and dissemination of evidence-based practices. UTSPH contributes to the OLE! Texas Initiative by offering expertise in research and evaluation related to children's physical, cognitive, and emotional health.

For more information, contact courtney.e.byrdwilliams@uth.tmc.edu

Will Smith Zoo School

The San Antonio Zoological Society’s Will Smith Zoo School is a fully-licensed nature-based preschool with a philosophy focused on developing compassion, innovation and resiliency. The campus is an OLE! Texas demonstration site showcasing the successful implementation of the 12 best practice indicators. The school’s staff works with North American Association for Environmental Education’s Natural Start Alliance to ensure they exceed the suggested guidelines for nature-based preschools.

For more information, contact: zooschoolfrontdesk@sazoo.org or 210-686-5606.