In Texas, this partnership among the AgriLIFE Extension, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and some 300 local partners has resulted in a unique master volunteer organization. At the state level, the organization is directed by an advisory committee providing training guidelines, program marketing and promotion, curriculum resources, and advanced training opportunities; and a volunteer representatives committee responsible for representing the varied interests of the chapters and providing a communication link to state committees and program leaders.
An individual gains the designation of Texas Master Naturalist™ after participating in an approved chapter training program with a minimum of 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction, obtaining 8 hours of approved advanced training, and completing 40 hours of volunteer service. Following the initial training program, trainees have one year in which to complete their 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training. To retain the Texas Master Naturalist title during each subsequent year, volunteers must complete 8 additional hours of advanced training and provide an additional 40 hours of volunteer service coordinated through their local chapter.
The program currently has trained 6,000 Texas Master Naturalist volunteers in 42 local chapters across the state. The program continually expands so if there is not a chapter near you contact the Texas Master Naturalist Coordinator or your local TPWD biologist or Texas AgriLife county agent.
Since its establishment in 1998 Texas Master Naturalist volunteer efforts have provided over 1,226,173 hours of service valued at more than $21 Million. This service has resulted in enhancing 90,000 acres of wildlife and native plant habitats; reaching more than 2 million youth, adults and private landowners. One member discovered a new plant species. The program has gained international state and local recognition with the Wildlife Management Institute’s Presidents’ 2000 Award, the National Audubon Society’s 2001 Habitat Hero’s Award, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission’s 2001 Environmental Excellence Award and Texas A&M University’s 2001 Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Partnership and in 2005 the U. S. Department of Interior’s “Take Pride in America” award.
Funding for the Texas Master Naturalist program is provided by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and AgriLIFE Extension