Approved Volunteer Projects
Project leaders: David and Mary Ann Butler
VMS opportunity: Adopt a Highway
The Gideon Lincecum Chapter participates in the State of Texas Adopt-a-Highway program. Our stretch of the highway is on State Highway 159 beginning at Rutersville and continuing two miles toward La Grange.
Volunteers meet in the parking lot at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rutersville.
All volunteers are encouraged to review all the safety suggestions found at the Texas Department of Public Safety website under Community Programs. Click on Adopt-a-HIghway and view the Safety Tips and Safety video.
Agricultural Safety Days
Project leader: Donna Mueller
VMS opportunity: Educational Group Presentations
All five counties served by TMN-GLC hold an Agricultural Safety Day for school children each year in the spring. Join our volunteers to present “Bite Me or Leave Me Bee,” which focuses on safety in our interactions with snakes, spiders, and insects in our natural world.
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Project leader: Terry Rooney
VMS opportunity: Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (APCNMR) is about 10,000 acres of mostly virgin coastal prairie managed for the endangered prairie chicken survival. Chapter volunteering activities are scheduled monthly and include habitat restoration through transplanting, managing invasives, collecting seeds, maintaining a native grasses demonstration plot, and seasonal prairie chicken pen rotation. It’s always a good day at the refuge with the silence of the tall grasses and chance encounters with birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians of all sorts. Visit the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR on your own or join the work day team. Contact Terry Rooney to discuss refuge volunteering and watch for the monthly emails with information on the work days.
Brenham ISD Outdoor Education (includes L.A.N.D.S.)
Project leader: – Lori Buffum
VMS opportunity: BISD Outdoor Learning Projects
Volunteers for this project are needed at various times throughout the year. Volunteers help with educational programs offered at the Outdoor Learning Center locations within the Brenham ISD and at Lake Somerville. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact – Lori Buffum You will be placed on a volunteer list and be notified of opportunities as they arise.
This is a good way to get involved in a Texas Wildlife Association and BISD cooperative program called Learning Across New Dimensions in Science (L.A.N.D.S.) where outdoor learning is taken to a higher level.
Family Science Nights
Project Leader: Lori Buffum
VMS opportunity: Outreach Booth
Each year, usually in February, our chapter participates in “family science nights” for local school districts. During these events, held in gymnasiums or cafetoriums, we set up a display of trifolds depicting lots of aspects of Texas nature. Then we have a Bingo/Scavenger Hunt game that kids and families can play for little prizes. Everyone has a good time finding the “answers” to as many of the questions as they can (clues or answers are on the trifold posters) and in addition to getting the prizes, they go home with an answer sheet so they can learn a bit more after the event. We have sometimes added the chapter’s Scat/Tracks display to our tables and everyone enjoys seeing and handling those plastic replicas from 10 common Texas mammals. The science nights are free and open to the public for the local area. We have participated with Bellville for several years and with Flatonia for 2 years. Volunteer qualifications? Just an enthusiasm for working with kids of all ages in a school gymnasium for a couple of hours.
Fayetteville Native Plant Project
Project leader: Karen Bookout
VMS opportunity: Fayetteville Native Plant Project
Replace existing non-native plants in beds at Fayetteville town square with native plants. There are four small beds, one at each corner of the square. Maintain the beds, mulch as necessary.
Indian Creek Nature Area
Project leader: Ann Ray
VMS opportunity: Indian Creek Nature Area
We have created and maintained for several years this beautifully wooded natural area that is located behind the Texas Cotton Gin Museum in Burton. There is a grassed picnic area and table, a bat box and a wooden bridge to a nature area along Indian Creek which sometimes runs with a small waterfall. Our volunteer activities include mulching and maintaining the two trail systems, mowing, controlling invasive ligustrum, introducing natives, and looking after a terraced pollinator garden for the enjoyment of the community.
LaGrange Agrilife Building Native Plant Landscape
Project leader: Cindy Rodibaugh
VMS opportunity: LaGrange Agrilife Building Native Plant Landscape
Volunteers will maintain and expand (when appropriate) native plant landscaping at La Grange AgriLife Extension Building in designated areas north of main building entrance. Plants will be identified with signage for educational purposes.
Monument Hill State Historic Site
Project leader: Karen Woods
VMS opportunity: Monument Hill State Park
If native plant identification is your expertise and you live near La Grange, Texas, then this is a perfect project for you. The activities include identification of native prairie remnants within the park, restoring and maintaining native grasses, and removal of invasive plants. Volunteers can assist park personnel with school tours and public groups. Contact Karen Woods to learn more.
Prescribed burning is an important tool in managing land for prairie restoration or improving habitat for wildlife. However, it requires some special training and experience before the technique can be used safely. Many of our GLC members have joined the South Central Texas Prescribed Burning Association (SCTPBA) to learn how to use this practice on their land and to help others also. SCTPBA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization as is GLC. One of the best ways to learn how to use this tool is to help with burns or just to observe the practice until you feel comfortable participating. To learn about the organization, visit their website at this link. You can get on their mailing list by becoming a “friend” of the organization. There is no cost or obligation for level of involvement. If you later decide you would like to be a member, which would be necessary if you want to burn on your property with SCTPBA help, then there is a small annual membership fee. You are welcome to participate in any training sessions or assist in any burns conducted by SCTPBA. Your volunteer time will count for TMN Volunteer Service hours.
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site Native Plant Gardens
Project leader: Mary-Helen Giles
VMS opportunity: SFA State Historic Site Native Plant Gardens
San Felipe de Austin, a town founded by Stephen F. Austin in 1823, played a pivotal role in events leading up to the Texas Revolution, yet this story is not nearly as well-known or understood as others in the chronicles of Texas history, including the Alamo and San Jacinto.
Commemorating the location where, in 1823, Stephen F. Austin established a headquarters for his colony in Mexican Texas, San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site and new museum share the stories of early settlers in this region. Today, visitors can walk in the footsteps of these early pioneers at what was the social, economic, and political center of American immigration to Texas before independence. San Felipe de Austin didn’t survive the war for Texas independence — it was burned by its own residents as they evacuated during the Runaway Scrape of 1836.
The historically significant site is surrounded by a number of native landscape areas which need to be maintained. In addition, the site staff is looking to the expertise of the Texas Master Naturalists to advise as to which plants need to stay and which ones need to be replaced. Since the grand opening ceremony on April 27, 2018, much of the grasses and flowers in the native landscape areas has flourished. A visit to review the site on April 4th, 2019 highlighted a need for spring cleaning of the beds, removal of plants that did not flourish or are not desired, and replacement of some plants that did not survive their first year. In addition, there are fire ant beds to remove, non-native plantings to consider in the overall plan, and the need for expertise regarding the grasses, trees, and flowers at the site. In general, this is a large front-loaded project with a need for thoughtful consideration for future maintenance and artistry. We will have access to a maintenance staff member in the future, whose position is currently open. Thankfully, sprinkler systems are in place and functioning.
The site staff are currently looking for any initial landscape plot plans they might have in their files. While this information would be useful in understanding the plants onsite, we will begin the project with the expertise within our Gideon Lincecum chapter or others known by the chapter. We need people proficient in grass identification, tree identification, native flower identification, and people willing to assist with general flowerbed maintenance.
Schubert House Pollinator Project
The Schubert-Fletcher Home is registered as a historic landmark. Built in 1879 by August Schubert, a successful business man and civic leader, it is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture. It was later owned by Concordia College and then Roy Fletcher, the first Lee County Treasurer. This timeless piece of history is now being preserved by the County. It further serves as the Lee County Historical Commission, complete with museum, and the office for the Giddings Chamber of Commerce. It is Lee County’s hope to restore such a magnificent piece of architecture to its former glory days.
The grounds are in dire need of TLC. And who better to do that than us?!
The Lee County Commissioners, Lee County Judge Paul Fischer and Justice of the Peace Michael York are keen on creating a pollinator garden with a variety of plants, emphasizing natives, of course! There are separate garden areas, so we can work the grounds in specific phases. We will begin on a good-sized bed on the west side of the grounds. A couple of areas will need drip systems. A cistern on the property apparently will convert nicely to a fountain/wildlife water source.
Stephen F. Austin State Park
Project leader: Tom Shaughnessy
VMS opportunity: Stephen F. Austin State Park
Stephen F. Austin State Park is nestled in a cozy, scenic bend of the Brazos River in southern part of our chapter in Austin County. It is named for the Father of Texas, Stephen Fuller Austin, who in 1823 established San Felipe de Austin as the Colonial Capital of Texas.
The Park encompasses 473 acres of mixed bottomland forest and forested swamp. The park is on the southern edge of the heavily wooded central section of the county, just north of the coastal prairies. The Brazos River forms the north boundary of the park. Stephen F. Austin State Park offers an array of outdoor amenities for day use and overnight visitors and receives over 10,000 visitors annually.
Stephen F. Austin State Park suffered major damage as a result of Brazos River flooding during Hurricane Harvey and earlier during the tax day floods in 2016. As a result the park remained closed for many months. The park is now reopened although the rebuilding efforts continue.
There are many opportunities at SFA SP for TMN volunteers to get involved. The Gideon Lincecum Chapter is now in the process of designing and building an interpretive native pollinator and prairie grass garden in front of the newly renovated park headquarters building. Once this project is complete we hope to add two more in the same vicinity. Maintenance will be ongoing.
Other opportunities include:
|Interpreting hike leaders and co-leaders. Roving interpreting.||Participate in local Outreach events.|
|Invasive species identification and eradication||Help create new park interpretive programs|
|Trail building and maintenance||Assist with TPWD sponsored programs|
|Host chapter related events||Assist with weekday school related park events and group weekend events|
|Conservation projects||The Friends of Stephen F. Austin State Park membership|
|Specific on-going group projects, e.g., wildscapes||Participate in annual summer Park Eco Camps|
You can visit the park website at https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/stephen-f-austin.
“Top Ten” Presentation
Project leader: Cheryl Karr
VMS opportunity for research: AT:Top Ten Presentation Research
VMS opportunity for creating presentation and presenting: Educational Group Presentations
VMS opportunity for attending: AT:TMN Chapter Program
A “Top Ten” presentation is a short 15-20 minute oral presentation on a subject of interest to you and to us as Texas Master Naturalists. It can be the “Top Ten” of any subject that you are familiar with or want to learn more about, and must be applicable to our interest and mission as Texas Master Naturalists. For example, some topics could be the “Top Ten” mammals, reptiles, insects, amphibians, trees, flowers, resources, etc., in our local 5 county area or the state of Texas.
The presentation should be designed to increase our knowledge and to enhance our understanding of the particular subject. You may use any medium you choose, photos, power point and/or actual specimens. Whatever works for you and your subject is acceptable.
Time spent doing research for a “Top Ten” will be counted as Advanced Training (AT). Attending a “Top Ten” program will also count as AT. Giving your oral presentation will count as Volunteer Time.
All information and facts presented should also be verified and all resources identified at the beginning or end of your presentation.
If you want to take part in this project, contact Cheryl Karr.
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site
Washington-on-the-Brazos (The Birthplace of Texas) is a beautiful historical park that affords several volunteer opportunities for Texas Master Naturalists. We continue maintaining a Monarch garden within the existing gardens to help encourage restoration of the Monarch butterfly population, as well as to provide habitat and nectar sources for other native butterflies and pollinators. As the damage from Hurricane Harvey is repaired, we hope to assist with the effort to keep invasive species, primarily Bastard Cabbage and Johnson Grass, out of the wildflower areas that bring tourists flocking to the Park during the spring. This is a wonderful Park for bird observation, and a great place for field trips. In addition, we’ll explore opportunities to help with other projects supporting our Texas Master Naturalist goals, which the Park identifies and/or approves. If you have an interest in helping at this Park in Washington, Texas (on the Brazos River in Washington County), please contact Julie Itz, or David Itz.
Winedale Trails and Pollinator Garden
Project leader: Jan Hughes
VMS opportunity: Winedale Landscape Project
Winedale Historical Complex is a beautiful historical park in Fayette County that affords several volunteer opportunities for our chapter members. These projects require all sorts of skill sets from building and maintaining paths and pollinator gardens to creating plant guides or serving as docents. Here is a list of what we are currently working on or plan to work on in the near future:
- Maintain a beautiful pollinator garden and associated plant guides in front of the visitor center
- Move the Gideon Lincecum monument close to the Theatre and establish a native plant pocket prairie near the monument
- Develop and maintain a trail from the monument to the pond and back. The trail will go around an existing pocket prairie that needs restoration
- Develop and maintain education tools such as brochures and guides, serve as docents to visitors and develop education events such as National Pollinator Day
Approved Citizen Science Projects
Backyard Bird Feeder Watch
VMS opportunity: Project Feeder Watch
Backyard Bird FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels, from scout troops and retirees to classrooms and nature center visitors. To learn more and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Lab toll-free at (800) 843-2473. In return for the $18 fee ($15 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds in their area, a calendar, complete instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights.
Colorado River Watch Network – Lower Colorado River Authority
Project leader: Cindy Hobbs
VMS opportunity: Colorado River Watch
The Colorado River Watch Network (CRWN) supports community-based environmental stewardship by providing volunteers with the information, resources, and training necessary to monitor and protect the waterways of the lower Colorado River watershed.
CRWN is the first and largest regional volunteer network of water quality monitors in Texas. The success of the program is due in large part to the uncommon commitment of the volunteers.
Trained volunteers submit water quality data that is reviewed and analyzed by CRWN staff, creating an early warning system that alerts LCRA to potential water quality threats. Though CRWN only requires a two-year commitment to the monthly monitoring, many volunteers have been participating for 5 to 10 years.
Community Collaborative Rain, Snow and Hail Network – Rain Data Collection
VMS opportunity: CoCoRaHS
This is a “citizen scientist” program called CoCoRaHs for reporting precipitation data. This allows those of us who like to track rain to do something with the data. See: http://www.cocorahs.org/ for the full story. The data is helpful in improving weather models, and it provides more data on the extent of flooding or droughts than the data from “official” weather stations.
The program requires that we buy a special rain gauge. The CoCoRaHs program has a weather instrument supplier which will sell them for around $22 plus S&H. If you want to participate you can join at the web site and order your own gauge. There is an online training program, which tells you how to read a rain gauge in 100ths of an inch and how to place the gauge so that it collects the rain with minimal error. It does require routine data entry, but it only takes a few seconds to enter the data. Go to: CoCoRaHS and click on Washington County or some other county of interest.
Green Ash Seed Collection – Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
VMS opportunity: Forest Restoration/Seed Collection
Extensive mortality among the Green Ash Tree across the United States is the result of the Emerald Ash Borer. Texas Master Naturalists across the state are working with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to collect Green Ash seed. The Wildflower Center needs your help to save the ash trees of Texas. First, we need to locate and map native ash trees in your area. It’s important to map only native ash trees from natural areas, not ones planted in landscaped areas such as backyards or city parks. You can help by sending the GPS location, tree species name, one close up photograph of the leaf for identification and one photograph of the entire tree.
The Wildflower Center will then contact you and provide Instructions for collecting seeds from the tree, for use in its seed bank. To get involved or to learn more, please visit www.texasinvasives.org/ashtrees/. You may also email email@example.com with any questions.
Invaders of Texas
VMS opportunity: Invaders of Texas
This is a statewide program coordinated by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Anyone can participate through a “satellite” group. If we have enough chapter members who want to participate, we can form our own satellite and get the necessary training. Or individuals can take the training that is offered around the state and then report directly.
Texas Stream Team
VMS opportunity: Citizen Science other
Texas Stream Team at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is dedicated to understanding and protecting the 191,000 miles of Texas waterways. We bring together community members, students, educators, academic researchers, environmental professionals, and both public and private sector partners to conduct scientific research and to promote environmental stewardship.
Texas Stream Team has trained over 10,000 citizen scientists to monitor water and environmental quality across Texas. Trained citizen scientists are the first line of defense for Texas natural resources, documenting approximately 4,000 monitoring events to assess water resource conditions at over 400 sites annually.
Texas Stream Team activities are approved volunteer activities for the Texas Waters Specialist program.
VMS opportunity: Nest Watch
Nest Watch is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the National Science Foundation. Participants in this program monitor bird nests and report data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You will record information about nest site location, habitat, species, and number of eggs, young, and fledglings. For more information about participating in this program, click on the NestWatch link.
Texas Butterfly Monitoring Network
Project leader: Kathryn Hokamp
VMS opportunity: Citizen Science (other)
The Texas Butterfly Monitoring Network is a long-term citizen science project formed in cooperation with the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network. We will be drawing on surveys conducted by interested citizens in order to monitor and assess the butterfly movements and success in Texas.
Surveyors will monitor the same route nine times between March and November and will report on all the butterflies they see. Participants will walk a route of their choice nine or more times throughout the year between March and November and will record every butterfly they see during the walk. Each walk will take between 30 minutes and two hours depending on the chosen path and it will be a fun way to learn more about butterflies and to contribute to data collection for butterfly monitoring in our state.This data will be entered into a database utilized by all the participants in the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network.
Contact Kathryn Hokamp (link above), lepidopterist for the Houston Museum of Natural Science Cockrell Butterfly Center, for assistance or information.
Texas Native Tree Seed Collection – Texas Forest Service
VMS opportunity: Forest Restoration/Seed Collection
The Central Texas Restoration & Recovery Program supports reforestation programs by providing landowners with seedlings that will grow well in Central Texas. Each year, seed is collected from native trees throughout Central Texas and grown at West Texas Nursery. These native seedlings are ideal for landowners who have been affected by drought, wildfire, flooding or diseases.
Seedling availability varies annually, but some previous species include Bald Cypress, Bur Oak, Cedar Elm, Chinkapin Oak, Green Ash, Mexican Buckeye, Mexican White Oak, Pecan, Sugar Hackberry and Texas Redbud. These are sold in bundles of 10 per species for $40/bundle. Orders are accepted – while supplies last – from September 1 to October 31. Seedlings are then delivered to designated Central Texas pick up locations in early November. To learn more or to sign up to receive email notification when the program begins each fall, call 806-892-3572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Nature Trackers
VMS opportunity: Citizen Science (other)
Join Texas Nature Trackers projects on iNaturalist. Whether you stay in your backyard, or travel the state in search of wild plants and animals, these projects are a great way to document your observations and learn more about them. TNT projects are curated by experts, and the data is used to prioritize our research and conservation efforts throughout the state.
Texas Stream Team Paddlers
VMS opportunity: Citizen Science (other)
This volunteer activity is designed for those who like to canoe or kayak and are committed to maintaining the quality of Texas lakes, streams and other waterways. This new group is hosting a series of orientations and trainings about how you can monitor the quality of your favorite waterway and become part of a citizen-based early warning system. For more information go the the website or contact Travis Tidwell, Program Coordinator at (512) 245-9148.
The Globe at Night
VMS opportunity: Citizen Science (other)
This is a new citizen-science program for which you can earn volunteer hours. The objective of this international program is to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. For more information visit The Globe at Night.