Coastal development specialist earns Terry Hershey Award

April 06, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Dr. John Jacob’s impressive body of work integrating conservation and sustainable community development has earned him the prestigious Terry Hershey Award for Excellence from the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (RPTS) at Texas A&M University.

Named in honor of Houston’s grande dame of conservation, the Hershey Award recognizes excellence in park, recreation or natural resources contributions to Texas, the region and/or the nation, as well as support for education and innovations as a leader in natural resource protection.

Jacob, Coastal Community Development Specialist with the Texas Sea Grant College Program, was chosen for his considerable work and achievements that “have helped to make people aware of bayou conservation, community development patterns and the value of open spaces,” said Dr. Scott Shafer, RPTS Associate Department Head. “These are the kinds of issues Terry Hershey believes in and supports.”

Jacob has long been a proponent of “Smart Growth,” an urban planning and transportation model that concentrates growth in compact, walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. Smart Growth harkens back to the way communities evolved before automobiles allowed people to easily travel significant distances.

“John recognized the need for and pioneered work in bringing concepts to Texas that emphasize what he terms the ‘Human Scale’ of community development,” said Logan Respess, Texas Sea Grant’s associate director and Extension program leader. “These concepts integrate walkability and what it means to be a vibrant community, like you see in The Strand district of Galveston and the French Quarter in New Orleans.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently awarded Jacob a $100,000 grant to use the GIS-based Community Health and Resource Management (CHARM) model to help Rockport area officials assess how their communities can plan, adapt and respond to climate change impacts over time.

Jacob said his joint appointment with Texas Sea Grant and as a professor in the RPTS Department makes the award doubly gratifying because “it is recognition from my peers and it is named for someone whom I greatly admire and respect.” Based in Houston, Jacob is also head of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, a cooperative effort of Texas Sea Grant and Texas AgriLife Extension Service that provides education and outreach to local governments and citizens on the impacts of land use on watershed health and water quality.

He will receive the Hershey Award during the RPTS annual picnic on April 12 at Veterans Park in College Station. Terese “Terry” Hershey and her late husband Jacob “Jake” Hershey devoted a great deal of time, energy and money to conservation causes, particularly in the Houston area. They are perhaps best known for working with then-Congressman George H.W. Bush to defeat the proposed channelization and paving of Buffalo Bayou in the 1960s. Terry Hershey was the inaugural winner of her namesake award in 1994 and it has been given to the likes of former Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Andy Sansom, long-time San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department Director Bob Frazer and Donna Brasher, Deputy General Manager of Community Service for the Lower Colorado River Authority.

“The award has always gone to somebody who Terry Hershey would be very proud of,” said Dr. Peter Witt, RPTS associate department head for Extension. “John joins a very distinguished group of Texans who have made great contributions to the conservation goals of Terry and Jake Hershey.”

-30-

Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.