Volunteer Service is the missions of the Texas Master Naturalist Program.
Texas Master Naturalist Mission: To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers who provide education, outreach and service decicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the state of Texas.
Chapter members are the volunteers whose efforts help to achieve the Texas Master Naturalist mission. Chapter members may choose from a variety of chapter-approved Volunteer Service Projects (VSP). Time spent involved in approved VSP count toward the hours required by the Master Naturalist Program to achieve initial certification and subsequent annual recertification as a Texas Master Naturalist.
The Chapter designates certain projects as “Signature Projects”. Signature Projects have a more prominent focus and lend themselves to broad group participation by chapter members. They will be selected periodically at Chapter Meetings by majority vote of those members present.
The Chapter could not exist without members serving in administrative capacities, such as holding an elected office, chairing a committee, or serving on a committee. Time spent performing these important functions is considered volunteer service, just like time spent on approved VSP.
A standing committee — the Volunteer Service Projects Committee – is responsible for steering the approval process for VSP. The committee relies on guidelines provided by the Texas Master Naturalist Program in considering which projects will be approved.
Projects may either be created by the Chapter (usually referred to as Chapter projects) or may be an ongoing effort by one of the Chapter’s partner organizations in which Chapter members may participate and receive volunteer service credit toward (re)certification.
Members may propose projects for approval consideration by the VSP Committee. A form is provided for that purpose on the website (seeChapter Forms), or simply contact the VSP Chairman to get the process started.
Once the project details are worked out, the VSP Committee Chair presents the project proposal to the Chapter’s Board for review and discussion prior to final approval. Members are informed of the newly-appointed projects by e-mail and they are posted to the website.
All Volunteer Service for Brazos Bend State Park and Katy Prairie Conservancy is pre-approved.
First, find a project that interests you from among those posted to the website (see the VSP Info for Members pages) or otherwise advertised by the Chapter. Contact the project leader, or attend a publicized meeting or event. It’s as simple as that!
The Texas Master Naturalist Program state sponsors, Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, receive funding from the state legislature and are accountable to the state legislature. They must establish measurable goals related to their missions, and are reviewed based on measureable outcomes. Time spent by Chapter members performing volunteer service activities is transmitted to the Texas Master Naturalist Program, which must make an annual report to the state. State auditors representing the comptroller’s offcie review the report and assess whether or not goals are being met and then relate that to future funding
On a local level, the Fort Bend and Waller Counties’ extension programs are accountable to their respective county commissioners’ courts. Agents may use Chapter activity reports to relate the program’s success. Local leaders appreciate programs that involve local citizens.
The Membership Committee Chair will provide a format for recording and submitting volunteer service hours. An Excel workbook, downloadable from the website (see Chapter Forms) to your computer, enables members to record all of their hours in one place, with worksheets for each month, and a totals page that calculates automatically. Members should submit their workbook to the Membership Committee Chair at the end of each month. If using the Excel workbook is too challenging, discuss alternatives with the Membership Committee Chair.
The responsibilities of a project leader include providing an annual project budget, to be reviewed by the VSP Chair and presented to the Board for approval, and working with the VSP Chair and Chapter members to achieve the project objectives.