CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A West Texas A&M University sophomore took home the top prize at WT’s 28th annual Student Research Conference earlier this month for her work on the origins of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, officials with WT announced.

Anna Bonnet, a sophomore agriculture media and communications major from Kenedy, won the award on April 7 for her oral presentation “The Civilian Conservation Corps: How Palo Duro Canyon Became a State Park,” WT detailed.  

“I really wanted to go in-depth into why Palo Duro Canyon was named a state park instead of a national one,” Bonnet said. “Because so much of the land had already been privatized and held valuable resources like water, farmers and ranchers were reluctant to sell it to the federal government. However, the state of Texas did purchase more than 18,000 acres of canyon land from Chicago real estate agent Fred Emory, which then became a state park.” 

WT explained that Bonnet’s research also examined the Civilian Conservation Corps’ role in developing the park as a publicly accessible destination with trails, bridges, buildings and the main road down to the canyon floor.

“These students are truly exceptional,” said Dr. Pam Lockwood, Student Research Conference chair, Clair Mayes Professor of Mathematics and associate dean of the College of Engineering. “They first chose to participate in a research experience, not because it was required for their degree, but rather they wanted the challenge of expanding their critically thinking skills, applying the knowledge they have acquired at their different academic levels, to the solution of a unique problem. But then they took that courageous next step of placing their methods and conclusions on display for the academic community at WT. All of our participants should be congratulated for challenging themselves and succeeding.” 

WT released the full list of this year’s Student Research Conference on the university’s website.