Curriculum

The Texas Master Naturalist™ Statewide Curriculum
The statewide curriculum will come packaged and assembled ready to insert into a three-ring binder (binder is not included). The curriculum for each of the units are tabbed and labeled, but not numbered to allow individual Master Naturalist chapters to assemble the curriculum in an order that best fits their training agenda. Unit goals, listed below, are goals that may be accomplished after the volunteer has read each curriculum unit. This will allow you to give your presenters an idea of the base knowledge volunteers should have from reading the curriculum unit prior to attending class. Ideally, the presenter may teach above and beyond that presented by the curriculum unit and customize their presentation to the very specific issues of the local area. Volunteers can add additional materials obtained in class to the respective section of the state curriculum.

Unit: Intro to the Texas Master Naturalist™ program

* Describe what a Master Naturalist™ is
* Identify and communicate the mission and goals of the Master Naturalist volunteer program
* Identify and communicate the requirements and responsibilities of a Texas Master Naturalist

Unit: Historical Naturalists of Texas

* Understand the importance of expeditions and surveys in the natural history of Texas
* Discuss the history of naturalists in Texas and their accomplishments
* Understand the importance of expeditions and surveys in the natural history of Texas
* Identify the most significant naturalists of Texas

Unit: Ecological Concepts

* Explain the ecological principles that apply to individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems
* Explain the balances that exist between ecosystems and what factors are necessary to keep ecosystems in balance
* Explain how different ecosystems are determined largely by different environmental factors
* Describe the hydrologic cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the carbon cycle
* Explain what is meant by succession and climax and list the factors responsible for each
* Illustrate a food web and explain the importance of trophic relationships
* Define biodiversity and understand the importance of managing for biodiversity
* Identify ecological factors that are relevant to a threatened species
* Understand the laws and procedures necessary for protecting species

Unit: Geology and Soils of Texas

*Become aware of and understand the basic geologic processes of rock formation and the interactions which were instrumental in forming the geology of Texas
*Trace the geologic history of Texas
*Describe the various landform regions of Texas
*Discuss the hydrologic cycle and describe all possible sources of water
*Describe the physical and chemical properties of soil
*Discuss ways to prevent soil erosion

Unit: Weather and Climate

*Discuss what processes affect the daytime and nighttime temperature
*Describe the main processes driving Texas weather and climate
*Identify cloud formations and the weather and climate they can predict or represent
*Understand the short-term and long-term relevance of climate variability and change to Texas ecology
*Describe a typical year of weather in Texas

Unit: Ecological Regions of Texas

*Identify and differentiate the features of Texas’ ecological regions and subregions
* Understand and communicate the need for different maps denoting various ecological regions of Texas
*Explain some of the key factors underpinning the ecological diversity occurring in Texas

Unit: Ecosystems: Concepts and Management

*Understand and discuss the seven principles of ecology
*Describe management, ecosystems, and ecosystem management
*Identify the five ecological principles that can help assure the Earth’s ecosystems

Unit: The Nature of Naming

*Demonstrate their ability to classify and identify common local tree species in the fielf
*Discuss the uses and importance of the classification system
*Identify main parts of a scientific name
*Understand why the binomial classification system is important
*Discuss the pitfalls of using common names

Unit: Plants

*Explain why it is important to be familiar with plant names and some cases where knowing plant names can help
*Describe the classes of plants
*Become familiar with and describe the parts of a plant
*Compare and contrast the four classes of plants
*Become familiar with leaf and flower, types, placement, and arrangements to identify plants
*Explain what an invasive plant is and give some examples

Unit: Ornithology

* Understand the causes for bird diversity
* Understand and discuss the habit of bird migration
* Identify the primary flyways of North America and Texas
* Explain bird behavioral characteristics to environments and environmental changes
* Develop an awareness of how birds populations are monitored and managed
* Identify and communicate how birds function within ecosystems
* Become aware of and communicate conservation concerns for birds

Unit: Entomology

* Demonstrate an appreciation for insects and an interest in entomology
* Discuss why insects are so biologically diverse, why this diversity is threatened, and why the conservation of insect biodiversity is important
* Demonstrate familiarity with the insect fauna of Texas
* Discuss basic principles of insect behavior and ecology and relate these to environmental adaptations
* Understand the systematic relationships among various insect groups
* Demonstrate knowledge about the general characteristics of the major groups of insects
* Understand the role that insects play in local ecosystems and various other ecosystems in Texas
* Discuss the habitat needs of various groups of insects
* Demonstrate knowledge of methods for collecting insects
* Recognize rare or special species that indicate habitat qualities

Unit: Ichthyology

* Demonstrate an appreciation for fishes and an interest in ichthyology
* Discuss the diversity of fishes in Texas and demonstrate familiarity with the different groups of fishes
* Understand the relationship among various groups of fishes
* Demonstrate knowledge about the general characteristics of the major groups of fishes
* Discuss basic principles of fish behavior, physiology, and ecology and relate these principles to environmental adaptations
* Discuss the habitat needs of various groups of fishes

Unit: Herpetology

*Be able to communicate the characteristics of amphibians and reptiles and how they differ from other vertebrates
*Understand the relationships among the major groups of amphibians and reptiles and how  they are related to fish, mammals, and birds
* Have basic knowledge of ecology and life history of amphibians and reptiles in Texas
* Outline and communicate the challenges confronting conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Texas
* Outline and communicate the issues affecting the conservation of Texas herpetofauna

Unit: Mammalogy

* Demonstrate an appreciation for mammals and an interest in mammalogy
* Discuss the diversity and distribution of mammals in Texas and demonstrate familiarity with the different groups of mammals
* Understand the systematic relationships among various groups of mammals
* Demonstrate knowledge about the general characteristics of the major groups of mammals
* Discuss basic principles of mammal behavior, physiology, and ecology and relate these principles to environmental adaptations
* Discuss the habitat needs of various groups of mammals
* Understand the role that mammals play in the ecosystems of Texas
* Demonstrate knowledge of estimating/measuring mammal populations
* Demonstrate knowledge of methods for trapping, marking, monitoring, and observing mammal populations
* Understand and communicate the 11 major characteristics of mammals
* Become familiar with the three major taxonomic groups of mammals and what characteristics make those groups

Unit: Archeology

* Describe and define what archeology is and what its study includes
* Define culture
* Become familiar with the archeological regions of Texas
* Become familiar with the antiquities law

Unit: Forest Ecology and Management

* Identify the major forested regions of Texas
* Understand the diversity of forests found in Texas
* Compare and contrast forest and urban forest ecology
* Understand and describe the stages of succession in natural and forested ecosystems
* Understand the benefits and ecosystem services forests provide
* Know the important role fire plays in ecological restoration of healthy forests
* Be familiar with traditional forestry management
* List and describe the benefits and ecosystem services trees provide in an urban environment

Unit: Aquatic Systems Ecology and Management

* Describe the characteristics of water
* Communicate the characteristics and properties of aquatic systems
* Understand and communicate how aquatic systems function
* Be familiar with management techniques for aquatic systems
* Understand and communicate threats to aquatic systems

Unit: Wetland Ecology and Management

* Explain what a wetland is
* Know the types of wetlands
* Be familiar with the wetlands of Texas
* Describe the types of wetlands in Texas
* Be familiar with the state and federal regulations affecting and governing wetlands conservation in Texas

Unit: Rangeland Ecology and Management

* Define and describe rangeland
* Define Rangeland Management
* Describe why range management is different from agricultural vocations
* List the basic component categories of range management
* List and describe the four founding principles of grazing management
* Understand and be able to communicate the importance of land management goals
* Describe how native grasses grow
* Describe, compare, and contrast rangeland management tools
* Develop an awareness of grazing, brush and weed issues and management on Texas rangelands

Unit: Urban Systems

* Clearly differentiate the meaning of urban ecosystems, urban, urbanization, and urban sprawl
* Compare urban and natural ecosystems in terms of diversity, interrelationships, cycles, and energy
* Understand the unique ecology of urban ecosystems in terms impacts on abiotic characteristics, nutrient cycles, and the water cycle; green and gray spaces; plants and animals
* Determine the levels of plant and animal diversity in urban when compared to natural ecosystems

Unit: Volunteers as Teachers

* Discuss what interpretation is
* Discuss types of interpretation
* Identify and understand components of an interpretive experience
* Demonstrate audience management techniques
* Develop/outline an interpretive program or experience
* Understand the differences between a topic and a theme and the importance/functions each serves

Unit:Texas Water Resources

* Understand the water cycle and identify water resources of Texas
* Be aware of the importance of water conservation and protection of both surface and groundwater sources
* Understand the management of water resources in Texas including water rights and ownership
* Be familiar with state water planning and groundwater management
* Understand water availability models, drought contingency plans, and water conservation plans
*Become familiar with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Land and Water Strategic Plan
* Understand how water quality is assessed, managed, and the planning process is being used to improve water quality
* Be familiar with state and federal agencies and water resources institutes that work with the public in water quality
* Become familiar with emergent water policies and issues
* Understand the benefits that rainwater harvesting and other conservation practices can provide

Unit:Citizen Science

* Define citizen science and its history
* Become familiar with different citizen science programs
* Develop a citizen science project for their local chapter
* Become familiar with the goals of that state’s Nature Trackers Program
* Become familiar with the Texas Quail Index program

Unit:Land Stewardship

* Define land stewardship
* Discuss the role of private and public lands management in conservation
* Describe the five management tools outlined by the naturalist, Aldo Leopold
* Be encouraged to develop their own land ethics

Unit:Laws, Regulations and Ethics

* Explain the differences between Texas Laws and Texas Regulations
* Describe who owns Texas wildlife
* Become familiar with some early history of conservation law
* Define situations Texas Master Naturalists may face, and how to best answer them
* Broadly understand the federal and state permitting process
* Demonstrate the working relationship between conservation law enforcement, Master Naturalists, and the general public
* Identify why ethical standards are important for Texas Master Naturalists

 

 

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