Ted Lee Eubanks, currently residing in Austin, Texas, received a BA in Journalism from the University of Houston in 1978, and since 1984 has been involved in the founding and development of a series of businesses. He is a writer, a photographer, an interpreter, a planner, and a noted public speaker.
Eubanks founded Fermata in 1992. Since that time he has been engaged in studying and promoting experiential tourism and outdoor recreation as sustainable approaches to community revitalization. He specializes in using the interpretive arts to connect people to places, the masses to messages, and markets to merchandise.
Eubanks is responsible for the follow innovations in the fields of interpretation and citizen science:
- Eubanks conceptualized and implemented the first birding trail in the world, the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. This prototype has now been replicated in hundreds of communities, regions, states, and nations.
- Eubanks devised the word “avitourism” in a 1993 paper on High Island to describe tourism related to birding. The word is now in usage around the world.
- While serving on the board of directors of the National Audubon Society, Eubanks devised a method for using the internet as a way to gather citizen science data about birds. That initial prototype became Audubon’s BirdSource, and eventually morphed into Audubon and Cornell’s eBird.
- Eubanks’ article on “bare-naked birding” in Birding (the magazine of the American Birding Association) has been adopted by a number of organizations and interpreters around the country. Bare-naked birding shuns the use of binoculars and field guides, and helps people develop an innate feel for the natural world around them.
Eubanks and Fermata have studied the economic impacts and characteristics of outdoor recreation, particularly wildlife viewing, around the world. Completed projects include the following:
- Wildlife watchers along the Platte River in Nebraska for the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Wildlife watchers on Delaware Bay for the New Jersey Game and Parks Commission.
- Travelers along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
- Attendees at the Rio Grande Birding Festival for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
- Surveys of wildlife viewers in California for the Kern Valley Biodiversity Festival and the American River Salmon Festival.
- Assessed the North American ecotourism market for the North American Committee for Environmental Cooperation created under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Eubanks and Fermata Inc. are directly involved in nature tourism product development as well.
- Eubanks conceptualized and implemented the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is the first birding trail in the world.
- Fermata wildlife trail projects now include Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Alabama, Kansas, and Connecticut.
- Fermata has provided guidance and consultation for additional trail projects in states such as Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, and Maryland.
- Eubanks, working with BirdsCaribbean, has completed the first phase of the Caribbean Birding Trail. Initial work included sites in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Grenada.
- Fermata recently completed an avitourism strategy for the Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda.
- Fermata recently completed the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail in coastal Indiana, a broad-based interpretive trail that includes natural, historical, and cultural elements.
- Aquidneck, Rhode Island – canoe and kayak trail.
Eubanks and Fermata also prepare economic and marketing feasibility studies related to sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation.
- Completed a feasibility study for the World Birding Center in Texas.
- Fermata has coordinated the Texas Prairie Rivers Initiative for the Texas Panhandle region, working with rural agricultural communities and private landowners to diversify their economic base.
Additional community sustainable tourism and recreation plans have been developed for the following:
- Charles County, Maryland
- Lonetree WMA and Garrison Conservancy District, North Dakota
- Pembina Gorge and the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota
- Big Thicket Region, Texas
- Texas Prairie Rivers Region
- Mission, Texas
- Hidalgo, Texas
- Weslaco, Texas
- South Padre Island, Texas
- Les Cheneaux, Michigan
- Great Bend, Kansas (Cheyenne Bottoms)
- The Rio Grande / Rio Bravo (Texas, Mexico)
- Edge of Appalachia, Ohio
- Wildcatter Ranch, Texas
- New Brunswick, Canada
- Conceptual Plan for Tourism and Recreation – Marinette County, Wisconsin
- Strategy for Experiential Tourism in Western Kansas
- Coastal Bend (Corpus Christi) Birding and Nature Tourism Strategy.
- Longleaf Hiking Trail, East Texas.
Fermata Inc. is also involved in large-scale strategic planning, with projects that often include entire states or countries. Often this work involves scenic and historic byways, heritage areas, and national recreation trails, with Fermata offering services include the development of Corridor Management Plans (CMPs), applications for designation, marketing strategies, interpretive plans, and interpretive enhancements. Completed projects include the following:
- CMP, byway application, interpretive plan, and interpretive enhancements for the Illinois RIver Road National Scenic Byway.
- Feasibility study for the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio National Scenic Byway.
- Interpretive plan and interpretive enhancements for the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway.
- Interpretive plan for Nebraska’s Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.
- CMP and interpretive enhancements for the Elk Scenic Byway in Pennsylvania.
- Interpretive enhancements for Utah’s Scenic Byway 12.
- Interpretive and marketing strategies for the Kansas Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.
- Interpretive plans for the 11 Kansas byways as well as for the state as a whole.
- Lumber Heritage Area Interpretive Plan (Pennsylvania).
- Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area.
- Trinity River Nature Tourism Assessment (Texas).
- Northern Forest Region Sustainable Tourism Case Study Report (Phase 1).
- Northern Forest Region Sustainable Tourism Case Study Report (Phase 2).
Planning projects often focus on sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation. Completed projects include the following:
- Kansas Ecotourism Strategy for Governor Brownback
- Emiquon (flood plain restoration) for the Illinois Nature Conservancy.
- Strategic Plan for Implementing the Maine Nature Tourism Initiative for Governor John Baldacci
- Case Studies Report – Experiential Tourism on Tribal Lands, Maine.
- Experiential Tourism Strategy for the Penobscot Nation, Maine.
- Les Cheneaux Nature Tourism Strategy, Michigan (Nature Conservancy).
- An Assessment and Recommendations Report for Outdoor Recreation and Cultural Heritage Tourism Development in Scott County, Tennessee.
- Edge of Appalachia Experiential Tourism Report (Nature Conservancy)
- Nature tourism strategy for the island of Iriomote, Japan.
- Consulted on sustainable tourism projects in three World Heritage Sites in Yunnan, China.
- Consulted in the development of MEA, the Meso-American Ecotourism Alliance (RARE).
- Avitourism strategy for Antigua & Barbuda.
Conservation Landscape Initiatives
According to the Pennsylvania DCNR, “throughout the commonwealth, large regions are working together to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects. Known as conservation landscapes, these collaborations are developing in landscapes where there are strong natural assets, local readiness and buy-in, and state-level investment support. Several state agencies, local governments, funders and non-profits have worked strategically and collaboratively on the ground for several years in seven landscapes to develop this value-driven, place-based approach.”
Eubanks and Fermata developed this approach for PA DCNR, and wrote the strategic plans for five of the seven CLIs. These include the following:
- Pennsylvania Wilds for Governor Ed Rendell
- Laurel Highlands
- Poconos Forest and Waters
- South Mountain
- Lower Susquehanna
This CLI initiative was recognized by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University’s “Bright Ideas Program.”
Planning efforts often focus on parks and recreation areas. Completed park projects include the following:
- Hackmatack NWR Viability Study (Illinois)
- Emiquon Strategic Public Use Plan (Illinois)
- An Appraisal of Recreation and Entertainment Opportunities in East Park, West Park, and the Wissahickon (Philadelphia Parks and Recreation)
- PA Wilds Dark Skies – an Early Implementation Conceptualization for Cherry Springs State Park
- Sinnemahoning State Park Portal Plan
- Sinnemahoning State Park Nature Tourism Incubator Plan
- Early Action Recommendations for Pine Creek
- Plan for Elk Watching and Nature Tourism in North Central Pennsylvania
- Kinzua Bridge State Park Recreational Assessment
- Clarion River Recreational Assessment
- Cook Forest Cathedral Recommendations
- Cook Forest Trail Recommendations
- Natural Lands Trust Hildacy Preserve Public Use Plan
- Natural Lands Trust Paunacussing Preserve Public Use Plan
- Natural Lands Trust Public Use Dog Card
- Brazoria County Parks (Texas) Interpretive Enhancements
Finally, Fermata and Eubanks have been engaged in work outside of the boundaries of the traditional interpretive arts and recreation planning. Projects completed include the following:
- Nature tourism facility feasibility study for Camp Aldrich, Kansas.
- Assessment of the Economic and Tourism Impacts of Siting Wind Energy Developments in Kansas Natural Areas for Governor Kathleen Sebelius
Eubanks frequently speaks and conducts workshops on nature-based tourism and its economic potential for communities, agencies, and landholders. Eubanks addresses state tourism conferences, wildlife meetings, and economic development forums. Recent workshops include Balancing Nature and Commerce In Rural Communities and Landscapes, a three-day seminar sponsored by The Conservation Fund and held at the National Conservation Training Center.
Eubanks, Ted L. Jr., R. A. Behrstock, R. J. Weeks. 2006. Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Eubanks, Ted L. Jr., R.A. Behrstock, S. Davidson. 2007. Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail: Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr. 1977. Black-legged Kittiwake sightings on the Upper Texas Coast in winter of 1976-1977. Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society 10:42-43.
Eubanks, T.L. Jr. 2007. Bare-naked Birding. Birding, Aug 2007. American Birding Association.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr. 2010. Who Advocate’s for Birding? Birding: 54-61. American Birding Association.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr. 2012. Bird by Bird. Legacy 23:3. National Association for Interpretation.
Behrstock, R.B. and T.L. Eubanks, Jr. 1997. Additions to the avifauna of Nuevo León, Mexico with notes on new breeding records and infrequently seen species. Cotinga 7: 27-30.
Cordell, H.K., T.L. Eubanks Jr., C.J. Betz, G.T. Green, B. Stephens, and S. Mou. 2008. American Birders–Part I – Their Numbers and Outdoor Activity Profile. A Recreation Research Report in the IRIS Series. USDA Forest Service.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr., P. Kerlinger, and R.H. Payne. 1993. High Island, Texas: Case Study in Avitourism. Birding vol. 25:6. American Birding Association, Inc.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr. and J.G. Morgan, 1989. First photographic documentation of a live White-collared Swift from the United States. American Birds 43:258-59.
Eubanks, T.L.Jr., J.R. Stoll, and R.A. Ditton. 2004. Understanding the Diversity of Eight Birder Sub-populations: Socio-demographic Characteristics, Motivations, Expenditures and Net Benefits. Journal of Ecotourism vol. 3, No. 3:151-172.
Kerlinger, P., T.L. Eubanks Jr., and R.H. Payne. 1995. The Economic Impact of Birding Ecotourism on the Laguna Atascosa NWR, Santa Ana NWR, and Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary, Texas.
Kohl, J. and Eubanks, T. L.Jr. 2008. A Systems-Based Interpretive Planning Model that Links Culturally Constructed Place Meanings and Conservation. Journal of Interpretation Research Volume 13, Number 2. National Association for Interpretation.
Morgan, J.T., T.L. Eubanks Jr., V.T. Eubanks, and L.N. White. 1985. Yucatan Vireo Appears In Texas. American Birds, Volume 39:3.
Scott, D., R.A. Ditton, J.R. Stoll, and T.L. Eubanks. 2005. Measuring Specialization Among Birders: Utility of a Self-Classification Measure. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 10:53–74.
President, Ornithology Group, Houston Outdoor Nature Club
President, Houston Audubon Society|
President, Texas Ornithological Society
President, Texas Partners in Flight
Member, Texas Parks and Wildlife Private Lands Initiative
Member, Texas Parks and Wildlife Nature Tourism Task Force
Member, Texas Parks and Wildlife Education and Outreach Committee
Member, Texas Parks and Wildlife Wildlife Diversity Committee
Member, Houston Environmental Foresight
Member, Great Plains / Northern Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Team
Board of Directors, National Audubon Society
Board of Directors, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
Board of Directors, Watchable Wildlife
Board of Directors, Shoal Creek Conservancy
Delegate (Texas), White House Travel and Tourism Conference (October 1995)
Lifetime Achievement Award
BirdsCaribbean (formally Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds)
Additional Honors & Awards
Houston Audubon Society
Leadership Excellence Award
Houston Audubon Society
U.S. Department of the Interior
Take Pride in America Award
Steve Thompson Award for Special Achievement
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
American Birding Association Chandler Robbins Conservation Award
British Airways “Tourism for Tomorrow” award
Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail
Texas Legacy Project