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Remembering a Houston Legend, a Force for Nature

Terese "Terry" Tarlton Hershey (1923-2017)
By Helen Drummond, Executive Director

For more than half a century, Terry Hershey devoted substantial time, energy and resources in significant conservation projects throughout Texas, including the founding of Houston Audubon in 1969. Today, we pay tribute to Terry in memory of and gratitude for her leadership, dedication and passion to making Houston and the life of Houstonians better.

Houston Audubon is honored to have been a part of Terry’s life. Not only was she a founding director, but also a long-time member of the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors.

Terry Hershey at the cabin restoration ceremony
Terry Hershey at the Cabin Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official completion of the cabin's restoration in 2012. From left to right: Judy Boyce (Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation Executive Director), Jim Winn (Houston Audubon Board President, 2009-2011), Ed Hickl (Houston Audubon Board of Directors), Lynn Johnson (Houston Audubon Board of Directors- deceased), Helen Drummond, Terry Hershey, Martha Wright (Houston Audubon Docent Guild President, 2008-2012), Mary Carter (Houston Audubon Board President, 2011-2013), Ben Hulsey (Houston Audubon Board President, 2013-2015)

Terry consistently imparted her invaluable wisdom and consistently contributed to important projects that needed a champion, including Houston Audubon’s effort to restore the Edith L. Moore Log Cabin in 2012. The log cabin is recognized as a Texas Historic Landmark and is the focal point of Houston Audubon’s Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Restoration of the cabin was a delicate undertaking given its status and Terry recognized the need. As a result, she gave the lead gift, in honor of her late husband Jake, to make the restoration happen, and her gift came at a critical time.  This was one of Terry’s trademarks; she always came through when needed most. Today, the cabin stands strong; it continues to host education programs for thousands, providing a setting that establishes a tangible connection to history and to nature. 

It was also Terry’s lead gift in 2013 that spurred hundreds to give in an unprecedented rally of support to save Deer Park Prairie, a 50-acre coastal prairie remnant representing one of the planets most imperiled ecosystems. The prairie was under imminent threat of development but because of Terry’s leadership and courage, over $4 million was raised in a very short period of time to purchase and place under permanent conservation protection the largest remaining high quality prairie remnant known in Harris County. Today, the grassland birds, shorebirds, wading birds and an array of associated insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals that have been found there can now continue to rely on this critical rare habitat. 

With every turn, there is a moving story about Terry. And as we honor this amazing woman, the tangible achievements she’s made for parks, people and the environment are entrenched in history leaving an indelible mark on the conservation landscape she helped shape. Terry was a true force for nature and catalyst of action. Her example will live on for generations through the many she touched and the many more to be touched by her story.

See the story of her conservation legacy in the Audubon Women in Conservation video.

  • John Bartos, President, Board of Directors

    Terry was monumentally important for Houston Audubon and many other conservation groups and issues. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.

  • Martha Wright, Secretary, Board of Directors

    It would have been very difficult to save the cabin without Terry's generosity and dedication. The Docents will be forever thankful for her contribution. She was almost 90 when we had the ribbon cutting but participated and visited with us. It was wonderful to get to know her a little better.

  • Victor Emanuel, Board of Advisors

    Terry and Jake hired me in 1975 to be the Executive Director of the Citizens Environmental Coalition. It was a honor to work with both of them on one of their many conservation projects. She made a huge impact on conservation and on the lives of many people.

  • Peggy Boston, Board of Advisors

    Terry was indeed, a force for nature. She taught me so much including how to go high, when they go low. She NEVER said a negative word about anyone. I was honored to work for her and enjoy her wisdom and positive endless energy for conservation. What a Class Act and lovely friend to us all.