Monica Zárate Burdette is from Rockport, Texas—the location of Fulton Mansion, one of the Texas Historical Commission’s 22 State Historic Sites. Burdette recently retired to Rockport with her husband Ray after 26 years of managing her family-owned El Canelo Ranch and The Inn at El Canelo located in Kenedy County, just south of the King Ranch. She is a descendent of Francisco Yturria of Brownsville and a fifth-generation landowner of part of his holdings.
Burdette served several terms on the Board of Directors of The Museum of South Texas History (MoSTH—previously known as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum) in Edinburg, where she served as Board Secretary. She chaired a MoSTH committee which produced a cookbook: “Mesquite Country: Tastes and Traditions from the Tip of Texas,” which won the McIlhenny Award—an annual award for best community cookbook in America.
Other activities include Burdette’s conservation efforts and nature tourism promotion. She has allowed important nature-related projects and research on El Canelo Ranch. One project involved research on the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and another project with the Texas Nature Conservancy identified a previously unknown plant species. She has served on several committees promoting nature tourism to the Rio Grande Valley. She also personally participated by hosting guests and field trips for nature-related endeavors to the ranch.
Burdette’s other contributions include serving as chairman of the committee that founded “Wild in Willacy,” a nature festival in Willacy County (Raymondville, Texas). She is also an active member of P.E.O., an organization which raises funds for educational opportunities for women. She is a member of the Rockport Center for the Arts and the Art Center of Corpus Christi.