Texas Master Naturalist™ Program
The Texas Master Naturalist program is a state-wide program designed to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers who provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension serve as sponsors for the program. There are presently 49 individual chapters statewide with more than 13,800 certified members volunteering over 4 million hours.
Central Texas Master Naturalist Chapter
Texas Master Naturalist – Central Texas Chapter was chartered in 2010 and has about 80 active volunteers serving Bell County and the surrounding Blackland Prairie area. Many communities and organizations rely on citizen volunteers like us to implement youth education programs; operate parks, nature centers and natural areas; and provide leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. A short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts. We can help!
Our Chapter meets the 2nd Tuesday each month from 6:00-8:00pm at the Belton Church of Christ (3003 N Main) in Belton where we have a guest speaker on relevant nature and natural resource topics, as well as discuss our projects and training opportunities. Our monthly chapter meetings are open to the public, and we are currently offering a virtual option (WebEx) along with our in-person gathering!
We are a nonprofit service organization working with and supporting other groups in our region such as various Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at their lake parks, and area communities and school districts.
For a list of some of our service projects, please visit the Service Projects page.
What Do Master Naturalists Do?
We clear, build and maintain nature trails, lead hikes and provide activities for adults and children to learn about nature and conservation in the beautiful natural areas of Central Texas. We participate in events that allow us to teach people of all ages about birds, trees, prairies, plants, wildlife, water resources and a variety of habitats and ecosystems that we have learned to conserve and enjoy here in Central Texas. We organize and participate in Citizen Science projects where members observe and report data on animals, plants and even the night sky to state or national research organizations that track changes. We use our knowledge gained through training and continuing education to teach others in classroom settings and outdoor settings. And to ensure the sustainability of our own organization, our members apply their diverse talents in communications, technology support, creative arts, construction, fundraising, marketing and hospitality to help build a broader community of dedicated advocates of nature.
Once a trainee has completed their initial Volunteer Training Course, they will be considered a Master Naturalist Pledge. The next step is to become a CERTIFIED Master Naturalist. To become a Certified Master Naturalist, and to maintain that certification status, one must complete the following annually:
- Pay annual dues ($25)
- Provide at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service
- Complete at least 8 hours of advanced training
More than anything, being a Master Naturalist is supposed to be fun! We offer a wide variety of opportunities for both volunteer service and advanced training.
Looking for More Information?
Master Naturalist training is conducted by the Central Texas Chapter in the Spring of each year. Classes are held at various locations throughout Bell County.
Application to the Texas Master Naturalist, Central Texas Chapter (CTMN) is open to all individuals and does not discriminate based on socioeconomic level, race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (18 or older), or disability.
Applicants must be age 18 or older.
The training fee of $150 will pay for the 763 page Texas Master Naturalist Curriculum, a name badge, supplies, speaker and facility fees, and membership dues for the initial year. A limited number of partial scholarships may be available.
All TMN Chapter members use the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Volunteer Management System (VMS) online reporting tool to record volunteer service hours. We also use e-mail, OneDrive and other online tools to communicate and collaborate with our trainees and members. All online tools are internet-based and can be accessed from any computer or most tablets. All trainees accepted into the program must be able to learn and use VMS and all electronic communication. We will provide training on the Volunteer Management System during the initial training course.
Background Checks and Waivers: All TPWD (of which CTMN is a part) volunteer applicants must agree to a photo waiver and liability waiver, in addition to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department background check. A driver’s license or Texas state ID is required to complete the online registration. There is no cost to you for the background check. This TPWD background check is mandatory for all Texas Master Naturalists, new and current, regardless of previous or other current background checks. After the initial TPWD background check, background check updates are renewed every year.
Ethics and Standards of Conduct: Applicants will be asked to review and ensure that they understand and can pledge to abide by the Texas Master Naturalist Ethics and Standards of Conduct.
Open Carry of Firearms: Texas Master Naturalists shall not openly carry firearms while volunteering, in accordance with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department policy concerning open carry of firearms, unless they are a licensed peace officer and are required by their agency to do so.
Chapter Dues: The Central Texas Chapter collects $25 annual membership dues from each of its members; payment is due between January 1 and March 31 of each year (a trainee’s first year dues are included in the class registration fee).
If you are interested in becoming a Texas Master Naturalist, please go to the Volunteer Training Course tab at the top of this page.
Have more questions? Contact Zoe Rascoe, our Chapter Registrar, and she will get back with you shortly.
Contact our Chapter President