Heidi Lyn Rao

Heidi Lyn Rao

Communications Division Retreat

Heidi Lyn Rao was hired by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in 1998 and has recruited, trained, and retained volunteers, as the Hunter Education Specialist for Southeast Texas.  In 2010 she also assumed the role as statewide Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Coordinator. 

During her TPWD career, she developed many partnerships and organized many education & outreach events.  She started “Take Me Outdoors Houston” in 2009, when the Texas Wildlife Expo ended, and brings this annual family-friendly, free, hands-on outdoor event to Discovery Green, Downtown Houston.  She hosts wildlife workshops ranging from alligators to big game.  She promotes hunting and outdoor safety to groups ranging from elementary-school aged to flying offshore via helicopter to speak to oil and gas employees in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico on a platform.  From teaching firearm safety to Rodeo Clowns during the Houston Rodeo, to hosting Hunter Education classes at the Sam Houston (horse) Raceway, conducting National Archery in the Schools Program and Student Air Rifle certifications, and partnering with many hunting, shooting and conservation organizations across Texas.         

She has coordinated 27 statewide BOW workshops across Texas, including the first-ever VIRTUAL BOW in 2020.  She has reached over 7,000 Ladies who have attended BOW and continued their outdoors skills ultimately becoming hunters, anglers, and archers, especially through mentored BOW hunts.  To date, 10 Texas Outdoor Women Network (TOWN) groups have launched across the state because of the statewide BOW.

She received IHEA’s Professional of the Year; IHEA’s Executive Director’s Award; TPWD’s Terry Erwin Hunter Education LEGACY award, Houston Safari Club Educator of the Year and she is also in the Texas Hunter Education Halls of Fame. 

She and her (now retired) TPWD Game Warden husband of 25 yrs., John, have 4 boys:  Dominic is 21 and works for Laser Shot Simulations in Houston; Matthew is 20 and is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas with a 4.0 and on his way to be a large animal vet; JohnJohn is 17 and is a Junior; and Luke is 14 and is in 8th grade.  The Rao’s are avid hunters and enjoy camping, trapping, and the shooting sports together.   

Houston Safari Club Foundation (HSCF) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. The charitable deduction for contributions to HSCF is the cash amount of the contribution, less the value of goods and services received, to the extent permitted by law. HSCF EIN 74-2177975. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSCF is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.