For those of us here in Texas, especially those of us that live near the gulf coast, labor day weekend saw some unusually clear water in Galveston. What many are not talking about, however, is the clear water further down south. During that weekend, our family made a trip down to Mustang Island State Park to kick off our ambassadorship program with the Texas State Park and Wildlife Department ( TPWD). This is by far one of my favorite partnerships I've done and it couldn't have been a better time. The water in the area was nearly, or just as crystal clear as the water from Florida. Us Texans have clearly been underestimating our own treasures. We are excited to have the opportunity and privilege to be helping out Mustang Island and doing what we can to bring awareness to this beautiful part of the Lone Star State. Better yet, we get to drive there with the new Highlander SE thanks to Toyota; they are one of TPWD's sponsors!

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, there was devastating damage across the Gulf region. Unfortunately, Mustang Island was near the eye of the storms' landfall and received major damage throughout the park. To this day they are still working on their infrastructure. Restrooms were washed away, headquarter heavily damaged, and some roadways were nearly washed away completely. Thankfully, there has been extensive work done on the park to get it back to full operation and do outreach and interpretive programs throughout the park. 

As close that we live to the coast, we have taken Mila only a handful of times, so this was a memorable trip for her. We still can't get over how clear and blue the water was that day. The water was enticing and to my surprise, the park looked like nothing ever happened. It was clean, little to no trash at all, and plenty of beachgoers. This makes my heart happy. Growing up my mom always wanted me to work with one of the State Parks. I even wanted to be a Marine Biologist at one point so this partnership is pretty close to making a childhood dream a reality. This obviously won't make me a biologist, but it does allow me to give back to the environment and play a part in conserving the ecosystem. 

Whether you are an outdoors person or not, we can't ignore the importance of our natural resources and ecosystems. This brings our family closer to conservation efforts, beach cleanups, educational and interpretive programs, and the beauty of the wildlife that call these places home. This is a great opportunity to teach my daughter about the environment and why preserving wildlife and environments is important to me and everyone that depends on its resources. I'm excited to be heading back out there pretty soon and enjoying some of the best stretches in Texas.

We'll be taking over Mustang Island State Park's social media accounts so be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook! We hope you get an opportunity this summer to visit the park and look forward to what everyone shares while visiting the park!

Thanks once again to Toyota USA for being a sponsor of Texas State Parks and allowing our family to drive down to the park in the new 2018 Highlander SE AWD!