Maxine Johnston receives Terry Hershey Award

Posted by: John Stafford 1 year, 2 months ago


Maxine Johnston, a true pioneer in conservation, has been dubbed “Godmother of the Big Thicket.” Maxine’s lifelong advocacy for protecting the Big Thicket has, along with other achievements, resulted in the creation and expansion of the Big Thicket National Preserve, a jewel of the National Park System.  

The Big Thicket region of Texas is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, one steeped in the history of early Texas. Thanks to Maxine’s tireless advocacy, 112,000 acres of the Big Thicket’s beautiful native habitat is conserved forever.  

Maxine's enduring fascination and love for the Big Thicket began as a high school student in the 1940's when she wrote a paper on the folklore of the Thicket. That paper led to a lifelong commitment to preserving the biodiversity and history of the Big Thicket.  Maxine’s endless perseverance continues today, at age 88.

Maxine and her colleagues built a broad coalition of people pressing for federal legislation to create a national park. In October, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed PL 94-439 to establish the Big Thicket National Preserve (BTNP), the first-ever National Preserve in the National Park System. 

Maxine’s passion for the Big Thicket has resulted in the creation of a unique archive at Lamar University documenting many aspects of the Big Thicket, including the industries of the region, its folklore, and its place in Texas history, with a special emphasis on documenting the long history of preservation efforts for this special region.

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