Since joining the Master Naturalists, my professional life has changed quite a bit. My reasoning for joining the BPTMN chapter in the first place was to learn more about my Texas surroundings so that I could better teach Environmental Science to my students in Frisco. Never did I think that my involvement with this group would ignite a love for nature, the outdoors, and the environment that changed the path of my life.
Since 2017, I have had my passion for the environment (and environmental education) stoked, gotten a master’s degree from Mississippi State University in Environmental Geoscience, and have quit teaching to work for an environmental non-profit in Dallas, called the Texas Trees Foundation. After 18 years teaching high school students, the opportunity arose to teach entire schools and even possibly districts about the environment and how to make it better. My job title at Texas Trees is Education Manager, but the position has already turned out to be so much more.
I took this job at the Texas Trees Foundation to start a program to teach school kids, communities, and anyone else who will listen about trees and their importance to our lives. Now, I know that you are probably reading this as a blackland PRAIRIE supporter, so let me take just a minute to explain. I understand that where we live in Collin County should be prairie. I understand the importance of the blackland prairie habitat and the importance of maintaining what we have left. That being said, when I was being interviewed for Texas Trees I even asked our CEO, “why trees?” I explained my Collin County position on trees (that we would rather have grasses, basically) and she had the best answer. It was something about the Great Dallas Forest and the waters that meet in Dallas County, and riparian areas. I can get behind that. Trees are natural here, and I can support that. We plant mostly native trees and trees that are adapted to this environment, so I don’t mind helping that cause.
Back to what I do. I am writing curriculum to get kids outside, learning. I couldn’t do that without the help of my Master Naturalist buddies! I have learned so much in the three short years about nature and stoking a love of it, that I just want to share. Not only do we provide outdoor curriculum to students in Dallas ISD and other parts of Texas through our Cool Schools program, but we build outdoor learning areas to help bolster the outdoor educational opportunities. We take limestone and fossiliferous limestone blocks, mined in Texas and create seating for students. Teachers get a presentation area with presentation boards to assist their teaching. And amenities such as peaceful labyrinths, weather stations with measurement tools, and musical areas all present other learning opportunities
In addition to working with schools, I am helping design educational and volunteer opportunities at our TXU Urban Tree Farm. This the place where we grow trees to be planted in the future. Trees are stored here for jobs to be completed, and volunteers can help with several tree-care practices, as well. The Tree Farm is located at Richland College, and is a great place to learn about trees and urban forestry.