Since 1954, our unwavering focus has been to provide fellowships for Masters and Ph.D. students in the fields of wildlife science, conservation, and management. Since then, we have supported more than 360 Welder Fellows, many of whom are now leaders in these professional fields. Much of the research conducted on the Welder Wildlife Refuge, located in the mid-coastal region Texas, has been accomplished by these students. Our secondary focus lies in providing conservation education programming for the public, accomplished through our professionally led, staff-developed workshops, field trips, and outreach programming.
Rob Welder passed away on December 31, 1953 and the probate of his will in 1954 brought into being the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation as described in the excerpt from his will below.
“It is my desire and my purpose to further the education of the people of Texas and elsewhere in wildlife conservation and in the knowledge of the breeding and living habits of our wild creatures, and in the relationship of wildlife to domestic livestock on our ranches and farms; to afford students and others interested in wildlife betterment and propagation and in the raising of wildlife along with domestic animals, a place for research and an opportunity for the study thereof; and to develop scientific methods of increasing the wildlife populations of the state and nation for the benefit of future generations of our people who may not have the opportunity to know and appreciate our wildlife, as I have, unless methods of increasing and conserving our wildlife are scientifically developed. For these purposes I here create a foundation to be known as the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation.”-Rob H. Welder (1890 – 1953)
The Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation, established in 1954, is a 501(c)(3) operating foundation. Throughout this time we have funded wildlife research, conservation education, and carried out the daily operations of the Foundation and Refuge through this foundation. In 2009, Foundation Trustees formed a new, non-profit foundation, the Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Conservation Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation.
This new foundation with a charitable status allows us to seek funding to further expand our conservation education programming, increase research projects, support infrastructure updates or construction, and conduct land and habitat management practices on the Refuge. It ensures charitable donations made for such projects will be used only for those purposes and not for operations.