Texas Hub of Southeastern Grasslands Initiative To Be Established at Wildflower Center

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Pressroom

Southeastern Grasslands Initiative and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center teams during meeting at the Wildflower Center

FROM LEFT Dwayne Estes, SGI Director and professor of biology, APSU; Vonda St. Amant, Assistant Executive Director University Advancement, APSU; John Hart Asher, Senior Environmental Designer, Wildflower Center; Cooper Breeden, SGI Plant Conservation Coordinator; Gregg Elliott, SGI Director of Communications; Zach Irick, Southern Appalachian Regional Grasslands Ecologist; Clark Mitchell, Band Foundation; Theo Witsell, SGI Chief Ecologist; Alan Weakley, SGI Chief Botanist; Brittney Viers, SGI-Quail Forever Interior Low Plateau Ecoregion Coordinating Biologist; Shannon Harris, Director of Development, Wildflower Center.


Austin Peay State University’s Southeastern Grasslands Initiative and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will advance their missions of landscape conservation and ecological restoration through a recently formalized partnership.

The two organizations officially signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 18, 2019, that will establish a presence for SGI in East and Central Texas. The agreement recognizes that coordination between SGI and the Wildflower Center can advance the conservation of southeastern U.S. grasslands (e.g., prairies, savannas, meadows, etc.).

Outcomes of the partnership are expected to include:

  • A member of the Wildflower Center’s staff joining SGI’s Steering Committee and/or future board as well as SGI’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • A staff position or positions to be based out of the Wildflower Center to jointly represent SGI and the Center.
  • The development of mutually beneficial proposals and grant applications.
  • Shared production of educational and outreach materials and activities.
  • Community-based grassland conservation teams based out of various cities in East and Central Texas.

“SGI’s work is critically important,” said Patrick Newman, executive director of the Wildflower Center. “By aligning with one another, we hope to strengthen our common goals of conserving North America’s native plants and grassland ecosystems.”

Dwayne Estes, professor at APSU and director of SGI, responded by saying that “The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does an outstanding job of educating the public and implementing urban ecological restoration, both of which are critically important for the current age we live in. Their ongoing field research and strengths in volunteer/educational programs will also serve our collaborations in more traditional conservation efforts. Everyone at SGI looks forward to working with the Wildflower Center through a variety of events, promotions and projects.”

The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative is a collaboration of leaders in international biodiversity conservation led by the Austin Peay State University Center of Excellence for Field Biology, located in Clarksville, Tennessee. SGI seeks to integrate research, consultation and education, along with the administration of grants, to create innovative solutions to address the multitude of complex issues facing southeastern grasslands, the most imperiled ecosystems in eastern North America. SGI’s focal region includes parts or all of 23 states in the southeastern United States. This forms an area called the “biogeographic Southeast.” The northern boundary is formed by the southern limit of glaciation during the Ice Ages and the western boundary is the eastern edge of the Great Plains. For more information about SGI, visit

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the Botanic Garden of Texas. The Center promotes its mission to inspire the conservation of native plants through its internationally recognized sustainable gardens, education and outreach programs, research projects, and consulting work.

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