Karen Starr Hunke was born in Vinita, Oklahoma but grew up in the Panhandle of Texas. Spending time in the country with her farm and ranch friends, riding horses, and looking for wildlife were all huge influences in her life. She earned her B.S. from Texas Tech University and a Master’s of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University. Karen serves on the Board of Directors for the Valley Zoological Society, Valley Zoological Endowment, Valley Land Fund, and Qunita Mazatlan World Birding Center. She has served on the Board of Directors of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children Foundation since 2002. She is past president of the McAllen Memorial Library Advisory Board of Directors and the Valley Zoological Society. Karen and her husband, Phil, are the proud owners of the El Tecolote Ranch located in Hidalgo and Kenedy Counties. They received the Land Steward Award from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2001-2002 and the Land Steward of the Year from Texas Wildlife Society in 2004. The El Tecolote opens its gates to researchers, school and scouting field trips, nature festival tours, and wildlife photographers. Karen and Phil have two married daughters and four grandchildren.