Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 59

A gifted performer and early childhood educator, Rhonda Herrington works tirelessly to bring the fine arts to Palestine. In 2018, Herrington worked behind-the-scenes to bring the Dallas Brass concert in March, “Aladdin, Jr.” in October, and the annual Community Christmas concert. As Director of Fine Arts for the Palestine Independent School District, Herrington continues to expand fine arts opportunities for students. Aladdin, Jr., a musical at Palestine High School, drew a cast of more than 70 students -- from kindergarten through high school. Last year, the high school added a drum line and a jazz band; the high school and junior high choirs won awards. Herrington has also brought dance back to the school district. December’s community Christmas concert drew more than 200 performers, and gave youth the opportunity to perform in public. Her- rington plans to bring back the Easter cantata in April, and will introduce a fine arts festival at the high school in May. Herrington served as president of the Palestine Public Library’s board of directors in 2018. Not everyone is aware of her enormous impact in bringing the fine arts to Palestine – and that’s fine with her. “I like working behind the scenes,” Herrington said. Dr. Robert McFarlane Conserving wildlife and boosting economy Dr. Robert McFarlane, 66, a well-known Texas cardiologist, is a native of Pal- estine and an alumni of the high school. He graduated PHS in 1970, Harvard College in 1974 – magna cum laude with the highest honors in chemistry, and Harvard Medical School in 1978. After an internal medicine internship and residency and cardiology fellow- ship at Harvard teaching hospitals, he boarded in Internal Medicine in 1981 and in Cardiology in 1983. McFarlane has dedicated his professional life to healthcare and saving lives. In his words, he and has been “playing doctor here for 35 years.” But it is his work as a conservationist on his ranch, known as The BigWoods on the Trinity, that spread his influence. The BigWoods is a 7,500-acre paradise on the Trinity River, with a five-star hunting lodge, including conference space, theater room, 500-yard rifle range, trophy bass fishing, fair chase Texas trophy buck hunting, as well as wild boar and timber mallard hunting. Purchasing adjoining properties started as a hobby for him in 1995. Even- tually, it became a labor of love. “I was always a hunter and always loved dogs,” said McFarlane. “Looking back, I see how it happened.” Creating habitat is a long-term project that takes vision, planning and fore- sight. It’s planting trees and watching them grow. In the early years, McFar- land said he hired people to help him, developing friends in the fields of biol- ogy and conservation. “You sort of learn what works and what doesn’t as you go,” said McFarland. “You learn plants and species. You learn a lot of botany in small amounts over time, until one day you are surprised at how much you know. Which is kind of how life is: Time goes by and you turn around and the BigWoods has been here 20 years.” McFarland has received impressive awards for his work in conservation at The BigWoods. Among the biggest: the Texas Leopoldo Conservation Award he received in 2015. McFarlane also hosted the Master Nationals at Big- Woods in 2005 and 2017. Both events boosted the local economy. JANUARY 2019 59