Esther and Tom Schneider: Giving Back to Texas

Esther and Tom Schneider

Esther and Tom Schneider are enjoying the next chapter of their lives together in Texas.

“While we aren’t native Texans, we got here as soon as we could,” said Esther. “When Tom retired after more than 30 years in commercial development, we knew we wanted to end up in Texas.”

Esther enjoyed every summer in Texas as a child, visiting relatives in the Panhandle and North Texas.

“Palo Duro Canyon is one of my favorite places in the world,” she said. “I also have fond memories of fishing with my dad in watering holes north of Dallas. We didn’t have any fancy fishing gear. We just made a fishing pole out of a coat hanger and fishing line, and baited the hook with Velveeta.”

When she graduated from high school, her parents said she could go to any college she wanted, as long as it was in Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech, and her life’s journey steered her to the Midwest and marriage to Tom. Both are strong supporters of the second amendment, and they have also supported military causes and law enforcement. When they got to Texas, they connected with like-minded people, which led to a connection to Texas Game Wardens and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“I learned about the Lone Star Land Steward program and was so inspired by what Texas landowners are doing to conserve the wildlife on their lands,” said Esther. “Some of the stories are so amazing. If you take care of the land, trees thrive and springs can reappear.”

Esther and Tom are working on their land near Driftwood outside of Austin to enhance it as much as they can.

“I’m learning my way around a chainsaw, that’s for sure,” said Tom. “And I’ve discovered I need a bigger tractor. There’s lots of work to do and it’s a challenge, but I’m learning as I go, and it’s satisfying to see the improvements on the land.”

Esther’s interest in law enforcement led her to attend the Texas Game Warden Citizen’s Academy a few years ago. The intensive program provides an inside look at the duties of Texas Game Wardens.

“It’s really eye-opening,” said Esther. “Not only do our game wardens enforce hunting and fishing laws, they are certified Texas peace officers and put their lives on the line every day.”

That experience led to a leadership role in Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program, a fundraising effort that provides specialty gear that game wardens need to get the job done. Esther serves as a co-chair on the statewide Leadership Council that leads the effort.

“It’s been gratifying to see how much Texas citizens support the work our game wardens do,” she said. “Along with the standard issue gear provided by public funds through the Legislature, this program is providing the resources for specialty tools that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”

Tom graduated from the 2018 Citizen’s Academy and echoes Esther’s enthusiasm for the experience.

“Texas Game Wardens are involved in everything from hunting and fishing violations to border security and disaster response and relief,” he said. “We learned about their roles in accident investigations, search and rescue and K9 operations. The experience gave us a glimpse into what our game wardens do every day. I plan on being an ambassador for our game wardens, and now I can more effectively communicate with my friends and associates about what Texas Game Wardens do for this great state.”

As Esther and Tom’s next chapter unfolds in Texas, the two are investing in the future of their new home state. Besides the contribution of time and dollars to Gear Up for Game Wardens, the two are also planning ahead and have included Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation in their estate plan.

“Now that we’ve gotten involved with Texas Parks and Wildlife, we want to do whatever we can to further their mission, because we so strongly believe in that mission,” said Esther. “Texas is a fabulous state, and we want it to remain that way. Giving back to Texas Parks and Wildlife will ensure the future of our natural resources for the next generation of Texans, whether they’re native born or got here as fast as they could.”

Learn more about how you can leave a wild legacy for Texas.