Sr. Research Associate, International Crane Foundation
Dr. Liz Smith is a native Texan and received her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Corpus Christi State University and Ph.D. at Texas A&M University in the biological sciences. Liz served as a Research Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi for 17 years working with her graduate students on coastal habitat assessment and conservation planning. She joined the International Crane Foundation in 2011 as Sr. Whooping Crane Scientist and developed the Texas Whooping Crane Program initiatives and served as North America Program Director and Texas Program leader until her retirement in August 2022.
Whooping Cranes rely on large expanses of quality coastal habitat each winter within and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and central Texas coast. Liz is continuing with ICF on a part-time basis summarizing long-term projects on wintering crane distribution and their response to ecological conditions and environmental changes. This information is essential in guiding the continued protection and restoration efforts by all partners along the Texas coast to support the continued recovery of this federally endangered species.
Talk: Connected by Caring: A Community for Conservation along the Texas Coast
Whooping Cranes were officially listed as endangered, even before the Endangered Species Act in 1973, as a result of unregulated hunting and habitat loss across their range. The increase from less than 20 individuals in 1940s to above 500 today is largely due to concerted efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated leaders in conservation. People care based on what they know and they act when they feel empowered to do so. Be inspired to act by learning about the actions of the people that have promoted the continued recovery of the Whooping Crane and conservation of the ecosystems they require along the Texas coast to thrive into the future.