What is the Texas Master Naturalist Program?
The Texas Master Naturalist program is designed to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers who provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension serve as sponsors for the program.
Why should I become a Master Naturalist?
- Local knowledge. The Texas Master Naturalist program covers a range of topics relatable across the state. However, local knowledge is stressed through the selection of local experts to instruct sections of the course. Most of the course sections have a lecture and field lab component, so participants learn about and experience the local ecosystems first hand. The vast majority of participants learn interesting facts about ecosystems in their backyard and share that information with many other people.
- Environmental education.Through the Master Naturalist training, participants not only learn about natural resources, but they also receive training on how to educate others about natural resources. A primary goal of the Master Naturalist program is to develop an organization of knowledgeable volunteers to help promote conservation and management of natural resources through educating their communities.
- Continuous learning.The Master Naturalist program and partners offer many advanced training opportunities throughout the year. These opportunities serve as more focused trainings on many aspects of the basic course or cover topics not included in the basic training. Thereby, continually increasing the participant’s knowledge.
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What is a volunteer chapter?
Master Naturalist volunteers in a community organize into self-governing chapters, with partner/agency staff serving as chapter advisors.
How do I become a Texas Master Naturalist?
To join us and become a certified Texas Master Naturalist, you must complete a training course on the area’s natural features and the impact that people have on nature. The course includes presentations by biologists, geologists, naturalists, and others from local, state, and federal agencies and universities. You must be at least 18 years old.
You must complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training during the first 12 months following your completion of the course (to be completed before your course’s graduation anniversary date). Advanced training enables Texas Master Naturalists to learn additional information or a particular skill in order to assist with different volunteer projects. Advanced training activities in the past have involved hands-on instruction, field trips to local natural areas, and lectures with such topics as range management, youth education, habitat restoration, mussel and amphibian training, etc..
All of the volunteer service and advanced training activities must be approved by the chapter board of directors (the chapter officers and advisors) and must be reported within 45 days of completion on the VMS (Volunteer Management System) website to get credit. Once you meet these requirements, you will receive a dragonfly pin and a certificate showing that you are a certified Texas Master Naturalist.
What are my responsibilities as a certified Master Naturalist?
Once you are certified, it is your responsibility to maintain your certification. To retain certification in each subsequent year, members must complete a minimum of 8 hours of advanced training and provide a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service in chapter-approved project activities. You are expected to stay active in the local Chapter and attend meetings, take advantage of advanced training offered through the local chapter, and keep accurate records of your service hours. As a volunteer, you may not profit from your status or violate the policies, missions and goals of the sponsoring agencies that govern use of the Master Naturalist title.
When and where are the chapter meetings?
The Rolling Plains Chapter meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m, at Midwestern State University, Bolin Science Hall room 209. We are currently meeting in person and by Zoom. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to the next meeting or for further information.
Who administers the program?
The Texas Master Naturalist program is a partnership of the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and local partners in each community.
How is the program supported?
This is a self-supporting program. Volunteers are expected to pay to cover the costs of their training. Local chapters are supported by training fees, chapter dues, and donations (money or in-kind services) from local partners. A portion of the training fees and chapter dues are also used to support statewide administration of the program. The local training fees and dues are set by the local coordinating committee and take into account the state fees.