Standing in the shade of the porch in a pair of beautifully worn cowboy boots, Bonnie McKinney introduces herself quickly. She runs though the professional paths she has followed until she arrived here, at the Adams Ranch in Southern Texas, as the Wildlife Coordinator. McKinney’s work takes place on a large piece of land owned by The El Carmen Land and Conservation Company. This private conservation area sits strategically between the Texas Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, Big Bend National Park and a CEMEX conservation project in the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains of Mexico. In this important transnational wildlife corridor, it is McKinney’s job to document animals, protect habitats and facilitate projects done on this land. Bonnie McKinney was the right woman to hire for this job. She had worked on CEMEX’s conservation project in Mexico for the 14 years prior and before that was employed by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Work in the outdoors is what has come most naturally to McKinney who grew up hunting and fishing in Virginia. She says of herself, “I was outside my whole life. I was in the creek catching minnows and my mom was always trying to get me inside the house to learn to cook, and that never happened.” McKinney has made a career out of what she loves most and is helping to protect the deeply unique environment of these desert borderlands in doing so.
By Grace Butler