Meet Our Speakers: Billy Pat McKinney


Billy Pat McKinney grew up in both the United States and Mexico, flitting across a border marked only by the Rio Grande. McKinney told us that—as a boy—nature lovers were the butt of his jokes. Clearly people change because in 1969, hoping “to make a quick buck” he found a job as a field biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Reminiscing, he told the westies it’s the things you stumble upon that make you happiest. McKinney made live captures to study animals and quickly mastered his job. He’s a “do it yourself” guy, living to defy the maxim, “conservation without money is just conversation.” He currently works for CEMEX, a global cement company operating in over 50 countries. The company owns the Adams Ranch, a large parcel of land in the Big Bend area and dedicates it to conservation with the goal of corporate responsibility. Cemex employs a team, under the direction of McKinney, to oversee the conservation area. Among their responsibilities are re-wilding and reviving wildlife populations. They strategically place supplemental feed for quail and water guzzlers (which harvest and store rainwater) for mule deer, big horn sheep, and birds. To further aid wildlife, McKinney suggests giving certain animals game status. Though it sounds counterintuitive, this gives species protection until their population bolsters to a viable size. He enjoys his vocation: protecting wildlife. “I fell in love with this work, and the romance continues.”

By Griffin Cronk