John has held board positions on Frontera Audubon and the Valley Zoological Society. He served on the Pan American University Foundation Board for 18 years and in 1987 became a founding member and first president of The Valley Land Fund (VLF), a non- profit land trust located in South Texas. John has published 11 coffee table books on conservation photography. John’s passion for the conservation of wildlife and habitat inspired him to create the VLF’s biennial Wildlife Photo Contest in 1994 and promote the private lands nature photography industry.
John has been a leader in promoting nature photography as a tool for conservation of habitat. He also believes in the power of nature and photography to change the minds of people, their attitudes, their vision of themselves and to heal serious mental problems. Many organizations heard John speak about the value of wildlife to the economy long before there were birding or nature festivals and long before conservation was cool. Since 70% of land in the United States and 90% of land in Texas is privately owned, there is an overriding need to develop opportunities for private landowners. John recognizes the value that the nature photo tourism industry can generate for private landowners. Images for Conservation Fund was created in 2003 to further this concept. The Pro-Tour of Nature Photography featured a month-long competition of top nature photographers teamed with private landowners of a region’s most diverse habitat. In 2006 the Pro-Tour was held in the Texas Hill Country, in 2008 in the Coastal Bend of Texas and in 2010 in the Borderlands of Laredo, Texas.
John’s most recent success was the “Save Camp Lula Sams” campaign. In 2016 IDEA Public Schools purchased Camp Lula Sams – 85 acres of habitat inside the city limits of Brownsville, Texas as an outdoor classroom for their students. John’s next project is to prove his theory that an intense year long immersion in nature photography can cure PTSD. The project is just beginning to come together. As residents of the Lower Rio Grande Valley for the past 44 years, John and his wife Audrey liveon 40 acres of protected reforested wildlife habitat northeast of Edinburg, Texas and have recently placed a conservation easement on 280 acres of old growth brush north of the city of La Joya.