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

Joe Farmer
North Texas Municipal Water District
Ken Mindell, Treasurer
The Rosewood Corporation, Retired
Jamie Steinburg, Vice President
Jenna Covington
North Texas Municipal Water District
Jack May
North Texas Municipal Water District
Haven Heinrichs
The Rosewood Foundation
Anjanette Murry
Crandall Independent School District
Storm Sands, President
The Rosewood Corporation
Suzanne Tuttle, Secretary
Fort Worth Nature Center, Retired Manager

Our Team

Katie Bourne
Executive Director

Born and raised in the Dallas area, Katie joined the Center as executive director in May 2023. She brings the educational expertise, nature center experience, outreach connections, understanding of natural ecosystems and personal warmth and enthusiasm essential to the Center’s success.

Katie spent almost a decade in public education administration at Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, directing the STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — Academy and realigning the district’s Career and Technical Education programs, which included over 100 teachers, 10 academies and 44 career pathways leading to industry-based certifications for students.

Her nature center experience includes helping open the Bob Jones Nature Center & Preserve in Southlake. As supervisor, she aimed to provide a fun, safe and educational experience for visitors of all ages. She hired and managed a staff of five and supervised the maintenance of the visitor center, gift shop and more than 700 acres of native flora and fauna. Additionally, she was the liaison between the city and Bob Jones board for volunteerism, fundraising and programming.

While working on her master’s in biology at the University of North Texas, Katie conducted research around North and South America, primarily focusing on the globally invasive suckermouth catfish in efforts to conserve native species and habitat.

After obtaining her bachelor’s in marine biology from Texas A&M University, she joined the university’s Microbial Oceanography Research Group, studying heterotrophic bacteria in Monterey Bay, Calif. She was also an environmental consultant for Scientific Principle, Inc., focusing on the spread of zebra mussels in association with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Katie’s work has been supported by grants through the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Texas Sea Grant, U.S. Department of Education, Texas Education Agency and more, along with corporate partnerships with Toyota, Raytheon and Frito-Lay/PepsiCo.

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.

Nancy Escobar
Conservation Educator

Nancy is a passionate STEM educator with a background in youth programming and environmental education. She joined the Wetland Center in 2022 and uses her role to share her love of insects and nature with her students.

While Nancy always wanted to be a teacher, she discovered her passion for the field during an environmental and conservation leadership summer camp program. Since then, she has provided similar immersive STEM experiences via her roles as an educator and program coordinator with various institutions and nonprofits including Vogel Alcove, Trinity River Audubon Center, Big Thought and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Her goal is to make engaging and inclusive environmental education programs more accessible to underserved youth in the D-FW area.

Nancy graduated from Austin College in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and biology.