The Texas Master Naturalist program was created in 1998 when the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife joined forces with a group of dedicated volunteers who recognized the need for a program to train and organize the growing number of people ready to volunteer their time and talent.
The Gulf Coast Chapter, formed in 1999, was the second chapter to be created in Texas.
The Greater Houston Area was the perfect place to start a chapter. With our region reaching from forests to the north, the gulf coast to the south, prairie to the west, wetlands to the east, and miles of rivers, streams and bayous, there was a great need for volunteers and citizen scientists to provide support and service to the parks and organizations in and around our vast city. Our first training class had just 12 students. Since then, our membership has grown to more than 180 members. In 2006 we became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Over time, several “sister chapters” have spawned from the original Gulf Coast Chapter, but we still train and volunteer in all 5 of the ecosystems we came to nurture and love from the beginning.
In 2017, an exciting change took place in our training program. We formed a collaboration with the University of Houston-Downtown. Our training classes take place at the University, and we include students from the university in our training classes, along with the trainees from the public we have always welcomed.
Our members come from all walks of life, span many generations and have a common goal of conservation and giving back to the environment and the community.
In addition to trail work, seed collection and habitat restoration, our members provide education to hundreds through our Outreach Program and Speakers Bureau.
19 Years after it was formed, our chapter is going strong and leaving its mark in so many amazing ways. We are honored to provide service to more than 40 organizations in Houston and Harris County and look forward to doing so for many more years to come.