The short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts. According to the National Park Service, last year there were 240,000 VIPs, or Volunteers-In-Parks, greeting visitors, building trails, leading programs, performing research, or doing just about any task imaginable. That number of volunteers is equivalent to “more than 3,200 additional employees,” the agency noted in a Presidential transition document in 2016. Their goal is to have 1 million volunteers by the end of 2020.
The certified Texas Master Naturalists of Piney Wood Lakes Chapter provide these services and more as they learn AND educate. After nearly 3 years of procedural adherence, recruiting, and commitment, Piney Wood Lakes became the 42nd Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist in 2010. We were supported in the effort by Polk County Chamber of Commerce Eco-Tourism committee, the AgriLife Extension Agents of Polk, Trinity and Tyler Counties and Lake Livingston State Park.
In 2023 we are a growing chapter with a continuing mission:
To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within the Piney Wood Lakes area.
Many of our rural communities and organizations rely especially heavily on citizen volunteers to implement youth education programs; operating park programs, nature centers, and natural areas; and to offer leadership and guidance to local natural resource conservation efforts.
Our current projects include
- Backyard Bird Count
- Cocorahs – Rainfall tracking
- Friends of Lake Livingston – supervise student volunteers, planting
- Gazebo Nature Preserve @ Lake Livingston Dam – Development and planting
- Birding Platform – On Hold
- Great Christmas Bird Count
- Lake Livingston State Park – bird hike leaders, invasive removal, event assistance, kids camp
- Onalaska Community Garden
- Polk County Chamber Come Clean Lake Livingston
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Projects – Assist with workshops, tours
- Ag in the Classroom
- Free Tree Giveaway
- East Texas Resources Tours
- Various CEU Educational Workshops
- Watson Preserve – invasive removal, controlled burns
We operate under the guidelines developed by Texas Master Naturalists in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The following management documents guide our chapter administration: