20th Anniversary

The Texas Master Naturalist Program will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018. As we approach that milestone, we will be collecting stories and the history of our program through a number of different media types. We will use this page to share information requests with our TMN Chapters. More information and resources will be posted as they are developed.

Updated as of May 24th, 2017.

20th Anniversary Project

We are suggesting that each TMN Chapter select a “20th Anniversary Project” chair or project leader(s). These chairs will be the main contact point for the state office as we build this project and begin to gather the oral histories and photographs of each chapter. Please ask these chairs to get in touch with Mary Pearl or Michelle to share their position and contact information for further project communications.

Why be a 20th Anniversary Project Chair? As one chapters chair put it: “It is such a privilege to hear all the stories first hand. I have come away from every interview with a deep admiration for these folks.”

Oral History Interviews

For our 20th Anniversary Project, we want to collect the story of our program, its successes, the laughs had along the way, and most importantly, the people who have made it the success that it is. For this, we are asking each TMN Chapter to conduct a number of Oral History Interviews with chapter members, current and former. These interviews will help us collect a story of your chapter – what has made your chapter and our program a success; what you have accomplished in your communities; what are you proudest of; how being involved in the TMN program changed your members’ lives; and what fun stories have happened along the way. We are also going to ask for memories from state-level TMN Program founders; how their original vision for the program has been shaped over time; and the impacts or changes they have seen in Texas’ landscape because of the TMN Program.

Selecting Members for Interviews

We encourage you to select a number of TMN members for the Oral History Interviews – these could include your chapters founding members, current leadership, project leaders, TMN volunteers with great success stories while working as a volunteer, or those who represent your chapter well. We have no limit (maximum or minimum) on the number of volunteers your chapter chooses to interview.

As an example of what to do and what not to do, Bruce Neville of the Brazos Valley Chapter was a great sport and helped us to produce the following two videos. Can you see the differences?

What Not To Do:
-His microphone wire is showing
-The wind is blowing
-There are distractions behind him
-He gets distracted by the birds
-And his answers were too brief or unprepared

 

 

 

 

This is Better:

-Good lighting & conversational setting
-It’s quiet without distractions
-Pretty clean setting behind him.

 

 

Consent Forms for Interviews

Each TMN volunteer who will be interviewed either on video or audio, MUST complete a “Talent Consent Form.” These forms can either be printed, signed and mailed. Or they can be signed electronically and returned by email to Mary Pearl at the TMN State Office – mpmeuth@tamu.edu . Please make sure that the Chapter Name is present on the top of the form.
Talent Release Form
If your chapter is returning these forms by mail, please send them in bulk, not individually.
Mail to: Mary Pearl Meuth, TMN State Office
102 Nagle Hall, 2258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843

Equipment & Tools

We are able to provide access to the equipment for this project. Instructions for how to use that equipment can be found below. We are also willing to host trainings by the web if needed. Please contact Mary Pearl (mpmeuth@tamu.edu) to schedule those. Note: to keep all video quality consistent, it is suggested that each chapter use the same equipment (iPad Video Kit) rather than their own equipment or TMN volunteer members video equipment.

Each Texas A&M AgriLife Extension District Office is equipped with an iPad Video Kit.  We have given each district office notification that our Texas Master Naturalist Chapters will be asking to borrow this equipment. You may need to schedule your use of this equipment around their County Extension Agents if already scheduled to use for other events. Please find your District Office by viewing the map below and selecting the office from the table. Some districts may require your local County Extension Office to check out the equipment, please email/call the District office prior to check out to see what their policies are. Also, some County Extension Offices have their own iPad Video Kit, please feel free to use those if available.

 

 

AgriLife District Office Contacts

 

 

 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has also provided a number of documents with instructions on how to use the equipment included in the iPad Video Kit and how to set up the video. Please review these before using the Kit and before beginning your Oral History Interviews.

1.  Instructions for Using the iPad Video Kit

2.  Instructions for Using the Amplifier & Microphone

3.  Video Production Tips from Penn State University

Additional Video Production tips can be found here: http://internettv.tamu.edu/video-production/ 

Again, if your chapter would like to set up a training for the equipment, our TMN state office is willing to schedule a WebEx web conferencing training to walk through the equipment and set up if needed.

Any additional questions about the technology and the iPad Video Kit can be directed to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Program Coordinator for Web Based Technologies, Treye Rice: phone: 979-845-7985, email: tgrice@ag.tamu.edu.

Interview Questions

Below are suggestions for interview set up and a guide for asking the questions. We have provided a set of 7 questions which we recommend following as best as possible. The following can also be printed and taken to the interview or shared with the interview subject.

Printable: Texas Master Naturalist 20th Anniversary Project – Interview Guide

BASIC INTERVIEW TIPS
• Always put a spoken introduction at the beginning of every interview
• Never just stick to the question outline — listen and respond
• Ask only one question at a time, and ask brief questions.
• Ask open-ended questions. That is, phrase them so more than a “yes” or “no” answer is required.
• Use words or phrases such as “Why,” “How,” “Where,” “What kind of. . . ?”, “Could you tell me more about. . , ?” (See QUESTION FORMATS below)
• Let the interviewee tell his/her story (Don’t insert yourself too much)
• Don’t interrupt — write down questions to ask later
• Structure the interview using turning points in the person or organization ‘s history
• Keep people on track — give them room to navigate, but pull them back in if necessary
• Establish the interviewee’s role throughout their story
• Once you have gotten the basic facts of a story, ask questions that require analysis
• Don’t contradict or argue with the chronicler, but follow up on differing answers
• Ask people not to speak in shorthand (meaning acronyms, internal chapter lingo, ‘naturalist speak’, etc.).
• Don’t forget to ask about negative as well as positive aspects of a situation
• Don’t be afraid of silence
• Listen quietly, carefully, and actively. Maintain eye contact (unless it is obviously making the other person uncomfortable, which can happen in certain cultural settings).
• Try to limit interviews to one-on-one settings
• Always be respectful
• Be aware of your interviewee’s body language, speech patterns, and reactions
• Consider a well-lit area to hold your interview
QUESTION FORMATS
The way you ask a question will affect the answer you will get. You want to try to ask open-ended questions and avoid closed questions. Ask questions that require more than a one-word answer.

Closed Questions Open-Ended Questions
Where did you go to school? What do you remember about where you went to school?
Did you walk to school? How did you get to school?
Do you remember school picnics? Tell me about the school picnics. What did you like or dislike about them?

A good ‘way to help the interviewee recount their past experiences is to ask provocative questions. You can do this by asking questions in terms of Who did What?, Where?, When?, How?, and Why?
You can also ask questions that require people to analyze a situation.
Start questions with:
Tell me about….
Describe…
What do you remember about…
Explain…
Expand…
Avoid leading questions. These are questions which suggest a particular answer, or which influence the interviewee to answer in a certain way.

NO YES
I understand Mrs. Smith was a wonderful teacher. Is that true? What can you tell me about your teacher, Mrs. Smith?
What did she look like?
What was her classroom like?
What activities was she involved with

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 
Please use the main question as initial question points and the subpoints to clarify if needed. *Also, please feel free to share these questions with your interview subject prior to the interview (at least 1-2 days).

  1. What are the five best things about being a Master Naturalist?
  2. Please complete the following sentence: I became a Master Naturalist to . . .
    1. Tell me about a time (as a child or as an adult) that may have affected your decision to become a Master Naturalist
    2. If you had a job or profession before Master Naturalists, what was it? If you currently hold a job while being a Master Naturalist what is it? Do the skills and knowledge you have from your ‘day job’ transfer to your participation in your MN chapter? If so, how?
  3. What has been the most surprising change in yourself since becoming a Master Naturalist?
    1. What do you do or say that identifies you as a Master Naturalist to others?
  4. How would you describe the impact you have had on the natural resources of Texas as a Master Naturalist?
    1. What changes have you noticed over time to the landscape or to the people you have worked with?
  5. What hopes do you have for your chapter, the TMN program or Texas’ natural resource future?
    1. What work would you like to see the next generation of Master Naturalists continue?
    2. What would you like to tell the next generation of Master Naturalists?

*Some chapters may choose or not have the opportunity to share all of the interview questions with the interview subject ahead of the time of the actual interview – either because of timing or to encourage the interview subject to speak from the heart and not from a scripted answer to each question. Each chapter can choose how they begin the interview process – sharing the questions or not. If they choose not to share the exact questions, we suggest they at least share the following note with their interview subject:

In your TMN Oral History Interview, you will be asked about things such as how the TMN program has affected you, how you think you have affected the landscape or others through your work in the TMN program and the future. So, thinking about your involvement in the TMN program in advance of the interview will help the interview go smoothly. In addition, you will be asked to introduce yourself with the following questions, which you can prepare ahead of time:

How did you get involved with your Master Naturalist Chapter
How did you hear about the program?
What role/roles have you played in your chapter over time?
What are the five best things about being a Master Naturalist?

INTERVIEWER GUIDELINES

  1. Read through your script before you get to the recording location. Have your interview subject do the same.
  2. Even if you may know each other well, the interview situation with a camera can feel awkward. You will want to put the subject at ease with some casual conversation before the interview.
  3. Explain the consent form to your interview subject and have them sign it.
  4. Start the recording.
  5. Begin by saying aloud into the video recording the following (it is recommended that you write down the specific information and read into the mic so that you don’t stumble):
    1. Interviewer Name
    2. “This is the 20th Anniversary Oral History project.”
    3. Date (Month, Day, Year)
    4. Time (include a.m. or p.m.)
    5. Subject Name
    6. Location (TMN Chapter)
    7. (WAIT 5 seconds on video before next point)
  6. Interview
    1. Have subject introduce themselves and give TMN Chapter (A second time)
    2. Question 1 will be part of the introduction of subject
      1. How did you get involved with your Master Naturalist Chapter?
        1. How did you hear about the program?
        2. What role/roles have you played in your chapter over time?
        3. What are the five best things about being a Master Naturalist?
      2. Refer to the Interview Questions sheet for questions 2 through 7.
      3. Try to remember the questions so that you aren’t looking down at the paper constantly
      4. Silence is ok.
      5. Asking for stories is difficult. Some suggested ways of asking: “Tell me about x”; “Was there a specific time that x happened”; “You were talking about x. Do you remember a specific occasion for which that was the case?” While there is no time limit suggested, it is typical for these interviews to be up to 30 minutes in length.
    3. Before the end of the interview, you may want to review and ask the following:
      1. “We have covered quite a bit of ground here. Is there anything else you would like to say, or something that came to mind as we were talking that you would like to add?”
    4. Close the Interview (Stop recording at least 5 seconds after last spoken word).

 Keeping Track of Interviews Done

Some chapters have requested help in keeping track of interviews they are working on. Our state office is also going to be working to keep track of each of the interviews that are submitted from the chapters. To do this, we have made an Excel Spreadsheet that can be used by chapters in managing their project needs and tasks. This same spreadsheet will be used by the state office. Thus, if a chapter uses this spreadsheet and shares it with the state office – work would be cut down and made easier. Chapters are not required to use this spreadsheet.

20th Anniversary Spreadsheet Project

Uploading Final Interviews from the Chapter

An online storage website has been set up to allow Chapter to share the video files directly with the TMN State Office. Syncplicity is a file share and synchronization service that lets users store and synchronize files between computers and users. Each Chapter has a folder set up and ready to receive their files. Once a ’20th Anniversary Project’ chair has been selected, the TMN office will add their name & email address to their chapters folder on Syncplicity. This will send an email allowing that person to have access to the folder. A Syncplicity account WILL need to be set up prior to sharing. But the account is free. There are no storage limits within Syncplicity, allowing TMN Chapters a large amount of space for their interview files and other media uploads for the project. Multiple email addresses can be added if a chapter has multiple project chairs or committee volunteers.  Please upload to the “Video” folder in your chapters Syncplicity folder.

Naming Video files
Please name all video files in the following manner:
Chapter_LastNameofSubject_Date
For example, a video of Jane Doe from the Alamo Area Chapter would be labeled as:
AlamoArea_Doe_01-01-2017

Frequently Asked Questions

As the project moves along, we will keep the FAQ page updated with questions that come in: Frequently Asked Questions -5.24.17

 

 

Chapter Photographs/Media

Along with the Oral History Interviews, we are also asking Chapters to gather photographs and other media. These may be old images of previous Chapter Graduations, previous year’s Annual Meeting photos, membership photos, or other project/activity photos.

Consent Forms for Photographs – of the person in the photo and who took the photo

Each TMN volunteer who shares photographs, MUST complete a “Talent Consent Form.” These must be completed for both the person in the photo and the photographer who took the photo if two different people. These forms can either be printed, signed and mailed. Or they can be signed electronically and returned by email to Mary Pearl at the TMN State Office – mpmeuth@tamu.edu . Please make sure that the Chapter Name is present on the top of the form.
Talent Release Form
If your chapter is returning these forms by mail, please send them in bulk, not individually.
Mail to: Mary Pearl Meuth, TMN State Office
102 Nagle Hall, 2258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843

Uploading to Syncplicity

All Chapters uploading photographs or media will also be sharing those files with the TMN State Office through Syncplicity. Syncplicity is a file share and synchronization service that lets users store and synchronize files between computers and users. Each Chapter has a folder set up and ready to receive their files. Once a ’20th Anniversary Project’ chair has been selected, the TMN office will add their name to their chapters folder on Syncplicity. This will send an email allowing that person to have access to the folder. A Syncplicity account WILL need to be set up prior to sharing. But the account is free. There are no storage limits within Syncplicity, allowing TMN Chapters a large amount of space for their interview files and other media uploads for the project. Please upload to the “Photographs” folder in your chapters Syncplicity folder.

Naming of Photos
Please name all photo files in the following manner:
Chapter_LastNameofPhotographer_Date
For example, a photo taken by Jane Doe from the Alamo Area Chapter would be labeled as:
AlamoArea_Doe_01-01-2017

 

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