Wow, was I wrong. I just assumed that people who were Texas Master Naturalists just liked animals and plants. After a wonderful interview with one of our local Highland Lakes members, Sue Kersey, I found out that you need to roll up your sleeves once you decide to become a Texas Master Naturalist.
We have a super chapter here in our Highland Lakes area and they cover three counties – Blanco, Burnet and Llano. When Texas AgriLife agent Wade Hibler launched this group in 2003, I am not sure he expected it to grow as fast as it did. They started with about thirteen members who “stayed the course”. Now they near a hundred strong.
Master Naturalists are volunteers who care about our land, our waters, our fish, our birds, and our animals. They are intent on making life better for all of us through habitat improvement for all Texas plants and wildlife while helping to create healthier farms and ranches. In order to become a Texas Master Naturalist you have to take 40 hours of serious class work in preparation for your Master Naturalist certification followed by 40 hours of volunteer work and 8 hours of advanced classes.
This is no small task and you must be dedicated and in love with the challenge.
Much of the work is in the field – learning about the out of doors and the good and bad aspects of how we have treated our environment. Master Naturalists teach, guide, and help improve things that are outdoor-related with their volunteer work. They might build bird blinds, help with a land management plan and even help young students learn about enjoying the world outside of a computer room. It might be a hike, a fishing trip, a trail design, helping to band birds, or learning about native plants and our local wildlife, and our Master Naturalists are quick to aid in these endeavors.
The organization has guest speakers, takes field trips, and awards “pins of honor” for hours of community service.
Many log 250, 500 and even 1,000 hours of community service for helping the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas AgriLife Extension service in their work.