Over the last few months, the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), has added new faces to its team to help fulfill its mission.
Most recently, the institute added two new members to its communications team: Kerry Halladay as communications manager and Chantal Cough-Schulze as a communications specialist. Jaclyn Robertson joined the institute’s water team as a program assistant and Delanie Scarmardo is a new addition to TWRI’s business team.
As communications manager, Kerry provides leadership for the institute’s communications, including the biannual txH2O magazine, Conservation Matters newsletter, brochures, social media, media relations and special projects. She works with the institute’s communications team to increase visibility and understanding of research and educational outreach programs focused on water and natural resources science and management issues in Texas and beyond. She serves as editor of txH2O.
Before joining TWRI in March 2020, Kerry was the managing editor of a newspaper serving western ranchers. Part of the reason for her interest in the position, she said, was the familiarity and admiration for university-based extension programs, and specifically the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, she gained while serving as managing editor.
Kerry said she is excited to serve as the institute’s communications manager because of the centrality of water to all life.
“Everything and everyone depends on it so it is a topic of importance to a wide audience and intersects with so many other topics,” she said. “I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of water management and communicating the various new and developing ways researchers are working to protect, extend and manage this most vital resource.”
She received Bachelor of Arts degrees in communication and media studies and philosophy from California State University-Chico and a Master of Science in public communication and technology from Colorado State University-Fort Collins.
First starting as a graduate student communications intern at TWRI, Chantal became a staff member in September 2019. She writes articles for and edits txH2O and Conservation Matters, develops multimedia materials and edits reports and education and outreach materials. She also serves as the managing editor for the Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal published jointly by TWRI and the nonprofit organization, The Texas Water Journal.
Chantal also pointed to the importance of water issues and their part in every aspect of life as one of the reasons she joined the institute.
“To study water issues is to study biology, geology, sociology, economics and so much more,” she said. “I've been close to water issues my whole life. My dad and my sister work in water as well, and I grew up exploring every body of water I could find. Writing and learning about water feels like coming home.”
Prior to joining TWRI, Chantal worked as a photographer, audio producer and science education program developer. She received a Bachelor of Science in biocultural anthropology with a minor in fisheries and wildlife science from Oregon State University and a Master of Science in science and technology journalism from Texas A&M University.
Jaclyn joined TWRI in August 2019 as a program assistant and is based at the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District in Central Texas. She helps organize conservation-based training programs for local communities that focus on methods for using alternative water supplies, such as rainwater harvesting, in support of groundwater conservation districts.
Jaclyn said she started working for the institute because it focuses on research that can directly impact the smaller, agricultural families like hers. Her family home is on land they have been farming and ranching since 1878.
“In the end, it all comes back down to the water and how we use it,” Jaclyn said. “I like that I’m able to be a part of bringing these science-based solutions that support the long-term health of these communities and the water that sustains us.”
She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University in 2017, double majoring in renewable natural resources and forestry.
Delanie started in October 2019 as a member of TWRI’s and the Natural Resources Institute’s business team. As a business coordinator, she provides support for the accounts payable, prepares and submits budget revisions for grant projects and monitors project closeouts. She also manages monthly payroll and salary plans for TWRI.
Delanie said she joined the institutes because of her love for the outdoors and natural resources.
“Since becoming part of the team, I’ve gained more knowledge about what’s going on within TWRI,” she said. “The family atmosphere that we all have with one another is something most places don’t have and something that means a lot to me. I’m thankful that I found this group and look forward to many years working with TWRI.”