Advanced Training Guide

The following is taken from the Advanced Training section of the State TMN Chapter Management and Operating Protocols document, which can be found in its entirety here.

The purpose of advanced training is to provide Texas Master Naturalists an opportunity to focus their interests on one, or a few, specific topics that interest them. Also, advanced training on an annual basis promotes continued learning and development. Advanced training is a benefit in itself, providing the experienced Master Naturalist with tools to work in more advanced volunteer efforts.  Although the State Texas Master Naturalist program may occasionally provide statewide or regional advanced training opportunities, it is generally the responsibility of the chapter to insure that there are sufficient advanced training opportunities offered so that members can attain their 8-hour minimum requirement.  In addition, the local chapter should be a clearinghouse for notifying members of approved advanced training opportunities that exist outside the chapter boundaries.

Advanced training courses may be made available directly through TAE, TPWD, or any number of short-courses provided by universities or nature centers. One way for a chapter’s trainees to meet their advanced training requirements is by actually sponsoring the advanced training sessions.  The chapter’s Local Coordinating Committee, Advanced Training Committee or equivalent must pre-approve all advanced training opportunities before the volunteer attends.  Educational television shows are not a form of advanced training and therefore should not be approved as such.  Generally, training sessions or seminars by Chapter members would not qualify, unless that member is a certified or formally trained specialist, and approved by the Advanced Training Committee.  Advanced training hours are also counted one hour for each hour of advanced training, however travel time is not included for advanced training hours.  These hours are not included in volunteer hours, and do not accumulate towards Milestone hour achievements.  Pre-approval must be obtained for an advanced training session that is outside the chapter boundaries.

Chapter Coordinators and/or the Chapter Advanced Training Committee should use the following criteria or ask the following questions of the opportunity when reviewing and approving Advanced Training Opportunities:

Does the Advanced Training opportunity:
1.      Promote continued learning and development of naturalist skills?
2.      Provide Master Naturalists with knowledge and skills to work in volunteer efforts?
3.      Direct trained volunteers toward specific programs in need of their services?
4.      Provide practical information and training for application in volunteer efforts?
5.      Take advantage of local partnerships?
6.      Provide Master Naturalists an opportunity to focus their interests in one or a few specific topics?
7.      Build on the core curriculum initially provided by the local chapter?
8.      Provide natural resource management issues and information applicable to Texas?
Advanced Training opportunities must meet the following criteria: 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8. It is suggested that the remaining criteria also be a part of the opportunity.

Approved Advanced Training Opportunities that do not generally require advanced approval by the chapter:

  • All Texas Parks and Wildlife TMN State sponsored activities, including their sponsored webinars, classes, field trips, etc. 
  • Those “Master Naturalist related” topics provided in Milam County by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service or Texas Master Gardeners. An approval form is requested to ensure the training is “related” to our mission, for our documentation purposes as non-chapter training, and to initiate our tracking and logging of hours.
  • Other Texas Master Naturalist chapters’ approved Advance Training, for ECRMN members who may wish to participate.  An approval form is required (per state guidelines above), that should referenced that chapters approval documentation for our tracking purposes, and to initiate the logging of hours by ECRMN Membership Committee. ECRC can not approve Advanced Training projects in another chapter’s jurisdiction, nor vice versa.

Most sessions offered by Nature Centers, Universities, other State agencies such as Texas Forestry Service or Waco Wetlands will likely be approved, but not automatically.

Reading books and providing book reviews are not recordable Volunteer Service hours, but may be AT hours.  A Book Club Group could be organized where a group of members all read a particular book on nature, then meet regularly to discuss the books using guided questions and a member facilitator. The members get Advance Training credit for the time IN the group discussion but NOT for reading the book – just like a member as part of a new training class gets credit for coming to and attending class but they don’t get credit for their homework of reading different units in the TMN curriculum manual.

If in doubt,  or for guidance, send a query to the Advanced Training Coordinator prior to participation!

Advanced Training opportunities are sent out via our Chapter Notices by individual broadcast emails, the weekly ECRMN This Week (ETW) notice, and all are included in our online “Calendar”.

To obtain the form for Advanced Training approval, go to this page.

Additional Chapter Guidelines:

Our Chapter Criteria document, and forms for Advanced Training approvals and attendance recording, can be found in the document library here.

Key excerpts from the Criteria Document are:

  • Watching an educational TV program, movie or video on a naturalist subject does not count as advanced training except when viewed during the course of an approved lecture or training program.
  • Advance Training is provided by knowledgeable experts or approved state trainers upon completion and approval of a Volunteer Project / Advanced Training Form. “Knowledgeable experts” can include Certified TMN’rs and would be part of the Advanced Training approval process.
  • Meetings do not count as advanced training unless otherwise specified.
  • Pre-approval is needed before attending another chapter’s basic training class.
  • All attendees record hours as Advanced Training.  Volunteer hours may be recorded if a member has already had that class, or is providing class assistance.

Advanced training may be in any of the following naturalist (or closely related) fields:

  • Archeology
  • Astronomy
  • Botany – as it pertains to native plants
  • Climate and Weather
  • Conservation and Environmental Issues
  • Earth Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystems
  • Endangered Species
  • Geology – as relates to ecosystems
  • Geography
  • Habitat management and/or restoration
  • Hydrology
  • Natural History
  • Soil – as it pertains to habitat or as a natural resource
  • Water – as it pertains to habitat or a natural resource

Examples of some of the past Advanced Training sessions includes:

  • Brazos Valley Audubon Society monthly (2nd Wed.) training sessions
  • Tonkawa Chapter of NPSOT (National Plant Society of Texas) training sessions (Temple)
  • Forest Ecology and Management
  • Wildflower Workshop
  • Herb Society Symposium
  • Texas Watershed, Franklin
  • Urban Wildlife Management, Dallas
  • Fly Fishing, Athens
  • Wildlife Management Land Valuation, Tennessee Colony
  • Advanced Storm Spotter, Killeen
  • Rockdale Forum, Milam Aquifers
  • Millennium Seed Bank
  • Sex in the Garden
  • Pond Management
  • Richardson Farms Organic Farming
  • Native Plants Workshop
  • Finding Nature Finding Us
  • Monarch Butterfly Workshop
  • Nature Festival training sessions
  • Ants and Horned Lizard Field Trip
  • Rockdale Forum, Ants and Horned Lizard Watch
  • Aquarena Springs Earth Day Festival
  • El Camino Real mapping update
  • Mother Neff Spring Wildflower Walk
  • Native Plants Workshop
  • Amphibian Watch field trip
  • Mussel Watch field trip
  • Blackland Prairie and Ecosystems Management
  • Butterfly Gardens
  • Leopold Training
  • Dragonfly Days 2009, Estero Llano Grande State Park
  • Rockdale Forum, Amphibian Watch
  • Native Prairie Restoration
  • Plant ID mini course
  • Weather Training
  • Bamberger Ranch, near Johnson City, a variety of topics – see Bamberger Ranch

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