Our Prairie People – Like Mother, Like Daughter

Published by Jeff Sargent on

SnK Wildlife Reserve main gate

Selena Schindler

Owner, SnK Wildlife Reserve
NPAT Member since 2019

Tiffnie Schindler Gonzales

SnK Wildlife Reserve board and social media management
NPAT Member since 2022

Tiffnie Schindler Gonzales & Selena Schindler

Selena Schindler grew up in Denton, Texas in a modest home. She and her family often spent summers in state parks, at local lakes, or out hunting and fishing. Her dad was a hunter, and the meat he acquired was often dinner. Selena grew up in the outdoors, as did both her parents. This appreciation for nature was passed down to her children, including her daughter Tiffnie.

Tiffnie vividly recalls spending time with her grandparents fishing at a lake or out camping. They bred beagles and chickens, and had many other animals around their home and property. Today Tiffnie and her husband live on a half acre in Pilot Point, near Lake Ray Roberts and the State Park there. They often pass their free time at the park with their two dogs, enjoying the outdoors. Tiffnie is also an avid kayaker.

Tiffnie and her husband have volunteered over the years at the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA). Through a series of unusual events, Tiffnie began a new hobby. She unexpectedly acquired a few three-toed box turtles and wanted to find them a good home. Fortunately, LLELA had a project that was a great fit. Tiffnie now raises these turtles, and once they are old enough, gives them to local master naturalists to be fitted with trackers and released at LLELA. This will help reestablish part of their historic territory. How many three-toed box turtle breeders have you ever heard about!?

Selena currently lives on a 408-acre ranch in Cuero, Texas, at the junction of the Blackland Prairie, Post Oak Savanna and Coastal Prairie ecosystems. The land has been in her husband Keith’s family since 1936. Keith’s grandparents were both barbers, but they also wanted to own cattle. Selena and Keith inherited the ranch and built a house there in 2008. They leased the property for cattle briefly, but it became overgrazed. The lease was ended and the Schindlers opted to return their land to its natural state.

Today the ranch is a registered nonprofit organization known as the SnK Wildlife Reserve. Its mission is to protect and restore indigenous plants and wildlife for the benefit of the ecosystem and the enjoyment of others who share similar interests. Selena and Tiffnie share their experience by hosting field trips for organizations such as master naturalists, master gardeners, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), and Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT).

Sadly, Keith Schindler passed away last year, so Selena now manages the reserve while Tiffnie and other family members help with the nonprofit management and social media. Over the years the land has been restored with the help of government grants and a lot of hard work. There have been plantings to support songbirds and monarchs. A controlled burn was conducted in 2017 and hopefully, another one will be done this year. The reserve includes a wide variety of wildlife, including bobwhite quail, deer, foxes, raptors, harvester ants, and horned lizards. Coastal prairie grasses can also be found there, quite a ways from the Gulf Coast!

Selena and Tiffnie both discovered NPAT through their involvement in other conservation groups. Selena is a master gardener and master naturalist. A while back an NPAT speaker joined master naturalists for a presentation in Victoria, Texas that caught Selena’s attention. She invited Jason Singhurst of TPWD (and NPAT board member) out to evaluate her ranch. He found an impressive diversity of plant and animal species.

Tiffnie learned gardening from her Mom’s master gardener techniques, and has replanting her home’s front beds with native plants. The only pesticide she uses are chickens, who are superb bug eaters. She’s got bird feeders all over their property and is a birding fanatic. Tiffnie was even out birding during the freeze of 2020! Her land has lots of mature trees, and the backyard has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a national wildlife habitat.

Selena and Tiffnie will both be attending the Pollinator Workshop hosted by NPAT’s Fayette Chapter this month. The work of restoration is ongoing, for all of us. And like mother, like daughter, they are both protecting and restoring their lands for future generations of people and wildlife to call home.

Thank you, Selena and Tiffnie, for your love of nature and prairies! We are grateful to you and all of our members. If you are not yet an NPAT member, learn how you can become one HERE.