Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Texas

Amid Population Decline, Rural Texas Towns Look to Future

Despite Texas gaining more people than any other state in the past decade, more than half of its counties lost population, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

During the past few decades, changes in agriculture and the boom-or-bust oil and gas industry have led to dwindling employment opportunities in rural Texas. Many young people leave rural communities after high school in search of economic and social opportunity, often never returning.

“You start seeing what I describe as kind of a net out-migration of young people who age up through high school in their community where they grew up. And if they want to go to post-secondary education or they want to work in a job that’s, you know, potentially higher paying, they’re going to have to move to a more urbanized area,” Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said.

That loss of young people, Potter said, has left aging populations in rural communities.

Texas Family Among Many in the US, Western Europe Taking in Ukrainian Refugees

Diana Mykoliv woke up early on the morning of Feb. 24 for flight attendant training in the United Arab Emirates. Her hair clipped back and uniform pressed, she headed out her apartment door when she received a text from her mother.

“It’s happening, daughter.” The message in Ukrainian stopped her in her tracks.

“My heart just fell from my chest,” Mykoliv, a Ukrainian native, said. “The worst fears I could have ever imagined of the situation were just brought to light. I couldn’t believe it.”

The same morning at 5 a.m. in Kyiv, Mykoliv’s fiancé Oleksandr awoke to explosions of ballistic missiles. In a frenzy, he packed documents, money, some clothes and a Stephen King book, then headed to the train station to flee the city among the sound of alarms.

“I couldn’t sleep for three days,” Oleksandr said. “Air alarms sound every day, sometimes for hours and it just leaves me shaking.”

Mykoliv, 3,000 miles away from her home, felt hopeless as Russian forces marched into her country, uprooting and threatening the lives of her friends, family and fiancé. According to the BBC, President Biden and the policymakers in the European Union responded by issuing severe sanctions targeting four of Russia’s largest banks, its oil and gas industry, and Western exports (especially technology) to the country.

Fiesta’s Return Proved San Antonio Still Knows How To Celebrate Culture

Bryan Campa doesn’t attend Fiesta for the food or the alcohol, though he doesn’t begrudge people who do. To him, Fiesta is a chance to celebrate his culture. Fiesta, a festival that lasts for 11 days during April, honors the Battle of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto and celebrates the Mexican-American and other […]

Pandemic’s Impact On Education Reveals Cracks in Public School System

Holly Barajas had enough. It was the end of a pandemic-ridden school year for this first-grade teacher. It, too, marked a final chapter in a two-decade-long career, where the emotional highs of seeing her work’s impact on children were fraught with the frustrations that came with the job. Long hours and low pay. Society’s strong […]

Mar 11, 2022

New Dawn of Psychedelic Therapies and Research Take Root in Texas

During the last regular Texas legislative session, the bipartisan House Bill 1802 was adopted, allowing studies on “alternative treatments” for veterans’ PTSD. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School have established the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy, which will start its studies on psychedelic-assisted treatments later this year.

Mar 11, 2022

Tractor Innovation Comes at Cost to Texas Farmers

Major tractor manufacturers do not provide all the materials or software to allow farmers or independent mechanics to fix highly advanced tractors, leaving farmers reliant on company-authorized mechanics, which can be costly and time-consuming. 

Farmers are seeking greater ability to make repairs themselves — part of a much broader “right to repair” movement.

Mar 05, 2022

Therapists: Calling Health Care for Trans Kids ‘Child Abuse’ Is Hateful and Dangerous

Central Texas counselors and psychologists who work with transgender adolescents say Texas politicians’ recent statements about trans therapy are an attempt to rile up voters at the cost of an extremely vulnerable community.   

Mar 02, 2022

As Texas Republicans Attack Gender-Affirming Health Care, Moms of Trans Children Say They’re Not Backing Down

Parents of transgender children in Texas say they are “freaking out.” They are unnerved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on Feb. 22 telling the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate reports of transgender youth in Texas receiving gender-affirming health care. Abbott’s letter contends that procedures such as hormonal treatments, gender-aligning surgery or the use of puberty-blockers is child abuse under state law. 

On March 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said it had filed a lawsuit to block Abbott’s directive. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a DFPS employee who is a parent of a transgender teenager and has already had an investigator come to their home.

Feb 28, 2022

After Statements From Texas Leaders, Protesters Take to the Streets for Transgender Rights

A student-led march for transgender rights briefly turned violent Sunday when an Austin police officer slammed a protester to the ground.

Jan 25, 2022

Texas Ukrainians Pray for Peace as Ukraine-Russia Tensions Escalate

Many Texans of Ukrainian descent are concerned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border and possible cyber attacks on Ukraine’s government, potentially signaling intentions to invade Ukraine.

On Jan. 23, the United States ordered Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and their families to leave the country. 

Jan 22, 2022

Protesters Rally Against Oil Company’s Gulf Coast Expansion on Karankawa Site

 Chanting “respect our existence or expect our resistance,” nearly 400 people protested outside an Austin bank Saturday to try to stop construction of an oil terminal on ancient Indigenous land near Corpus Christi.

“We are still here, and we are still fighting,” said protest organizer Chiara Sunshine Beaumont, a descendant of the Karankawa people who once lived on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Saturday’s protest followed months of efforts by Indigenous groups in support of the Karankawa’s objections to expansion of oil export terminals owned by Enbridge, a Canadian petrochemical pipeline company. Beaumont said her group chose to protest Saturday outside a Bank of America on South Congress Avenue because the bank is a large underwriter of Enbridge’s projects.

Dec 22, 2021

Texas Moves to Protect Sexual Violence Survivors

Texas organizations and lawmakers have seen victories in their work helping victims of sexual violence.

Dec 21, 2021

Resilient Texas Pecan Business Is a Family Affair 

For the Texas pecan industry, December marks an end-of-season hustle as the last of the buttery, tender nuts fall from their sprawling branches and pecan lovers worldwide clamor to purchase fresh nuts for the holidays. 

Dec 13, 2021

Texas’ Famed Bigtooth Maple Trees Are Being Loved to Death by Deer

Since the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department opened Lost Maples State Natural Area to the public in 1979, thousands of people have enjoyed its colorful beauty in the Texas Hill Country. It has been particularly well-visited during the pandemic, with attendance reaching record highs.scientists have collected data indicating that the future of these trees and the pleasure many take from their color palette could be at risk. An overabundance of white-tailed deer has been killing young trees by browsing on them.

Dec 02, 2021

Youth Athletes Happy to Get Back in the Game

Central Texans are happy for the return of youth sports, which they see as important for kid’s physical and mental health.

Nov 29, 2021

From Pulpit to Pandemic: How Historically Black Texas Churches Spread the Word on Vaccinations

Black churches in Texas have been at the forefront of encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated and change the narrative for Black health.

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