who we are

Set amid a working cattle ranch and an expansive wetland on the East Fork of the Trinity River, the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center is a nature center, an educational destination, a birder’s paradise and photographer’s dream, and a serene escape to nature like no other in North Texas.
Our primary mission is educating the public about water, wetlands and wildlife and the need to conserve these essential resources. Our environmental education programs use the East Fork Water Reuse Project, a 2,000-acre wetland that supplies drinking water, to give students a memorable field research experience designed to inspire conservation literacy. We also offer nature seminars, bird walks, boardwalk tours, Scouting programs and a host of special events focused on the natural world, with an emphasis on activities for families.
Our boardwalk into the wetland and miles of trails allow visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in diverse habitats that host some 270 species of birds, including bald eagles, and scores of native mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles.
john bunker sands wetland center

Our Mission and Vision

Conservation Literacy of Water, Wetlands and Wildlife:
Our mission is to educate the public and provide research opportunities in the areas of water reuse, quality and supply; wildlife conservation; and wetland systems.
Our vision is to be the premier education and destination nature center serving the North Texas region and beyond.

Our Board of Directors

Terry Sam Anderson, President
North Texas Municipal Water District
Ken Mindell, Treasurer
The Rosewood Corporation, Retired
Jamie Steinburg, Secretary
Jenna Covington
North Texas Municipal Water District
Don Gordon
North Texas Municipal Water District
Haven Heinrichs
The Rosewood Foundation
Anjanette Murry
Crandall Independent School District
Storm Sands
The Rosewood Corporation
Suzanne Tuttle
Fort Worth Nature Center, Retired Manager

Our Team

John DeFillipo

John is a strategic environmental leader who creates a culture of conservation literacy through dynamic educational programming and lasting environmental partnerships.

He became the Center’s director in March 2010 ahead of its opening in October of that year. John has guided the Center to become a premier example of environmental education with a strong focus on increasing conservation literacy of water, wetlands and wildlife.

John also serves on the board of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, consults for ANCA and is active in North Texas civic groups. He received ANCA’s New Outstanding Leader Award in 2015.

A Mississippi native, John moved to Dallas in late 2008 to accept the lead natural science educator position with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. He honed his skills at two nature centers in the southeastern United States. As an outreach educator at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, his duties included presenting endangered species programs with live alligators. He also served as president of the Mississippi Environmental Education Alliance and was the recipient of the 2008 Environmental Educator of the Year Award.

John received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1992 from the Mississippi University for Women.

Linda Dunn
Education Manager

Linda has been a professional environmental educator for more than 35 years, teaching both in the formal classroom and in an informal environment. She joined the Wetland Center in 2011 as education manager and, along with John, helped build its programming and reputation.

Her innovative approach to environmental education and her work at the Center earned her the prestigious Texas Environmental Educator of the Year award in 2019 from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

In addition, Linda serves on the board of the Texas Association for Environmental Education and is an active member of the National Association of Nature Center Administrators, National Association for Interpretation and the Science Teachers Association of Texas.

Prior to her current role, she was a program specialist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. She also taught in the formal classroom in Texas and Colorado. She began her career working at a variety of informal environmental educational programming settings across the nation where she developed the organizational skills needed to flourish in a nature center environment.

She also has been recognized by the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife for her work with the agency’s teacher education programs and awarded recognition by the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas for her involvement with the Girl Scout council.

Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation and parks/outdoor education in 1986 from Texas A&M University and a bachelor’s degree in education in 1993 from Colorado Christian University.

Carol Garrison
Education Coordinator

A third generation Texan, Carol has been with the Wetland Center since 2017. In addition to teaching a full educational curriculum for public and private schools, she also oversees our homeschool program and presents a wide variety of programs and tours for visitors.

She frequently applies her training as a Certified Interpretive Guide and a Texas Master Naturalist.

Prior to joining the Center, Carol pursued her passion for environmental education through volunteer involvement with Keep Garland Beautiful, the Preservation Society of Spring Creek Forest and North Texas Master Naturalists. For those organizations and others, she presented numerous educational talks on topics ranging from recycling and water conservation to native and adaptive plants.

She is also a Texas certified prosthetist/orthotist and has been in private practice for 27 years.

Carol received her bachelor’s degree in biology in 1992 from Texas Woman’s University and a bachelor’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics in 1995 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

Nicole Ujita
Education Coordinator

Nicole joined the Wetland Center in 2021. She coordinates social media, membership, marketing and outreach along with teaching education programs. Her goal is to pass on the joy of science and love for the natural world.

A California native, Nicole made her way to Texas through the AmeriCorps VISTA program at the Dallas Zoo. The program’s goal is to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. During her three years at the zoo, she served as a youth volunteer coordinator and conservation interpreter.

Previously, she worked at multiple institutions including the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. During her college years, she fell in love with informal science education while working at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Nicole completed her degree in zoo science in 2015 from Friends University in Wichita, Kan.