Two residents of Blanco – Suzanne Adkinson and Steve Scheffe – were among the 21 men and women who graduated last week from the 12-week Master Naturalist course of study offered this past spring by the Highland Lakes Master Naturalist Chapter.
Scheffe, who also spends time in Austin, earned a special designation – Certified Master Naturalist – for completing 40 hours of Volunteer Service and eight hours of Advanced Training during the year. Only 11 of the 21 graduates earned this designation by graduation time. Adkinson will earn her certification designation later this year.
The 40-hour course is part of a state-wide program sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Graduation ceremonies for the class were held Thursday (May 22) at The Trails Clubhouse in Horseshoe Bay.
The Master Naturalist organization and the course, which is offered every year, emphasize the inter-connectedness of humans and nature and prepare graduates to share their knowledge with others in the area through a minimum of 40 hours a year of Volunteer Service. All study is geared toward a better knowledge and understanding of the Texas – and specifically the Central Texas – ecosystem. The course typically starts in February and ends in May.
During the one-day a week, 12-week course, the students studied 20-plus topics, delivered by experts in the fields of ecology, geology, climate and soils, ecosystem concepts, plants, ornithology (birds), entomology (insects), ichthyology (fish), herpetology (snakes), mammalogy (animals), archeology, and the ecology and management of forests, aquatics, wetlands and rangelands. Extremely knowledgeable guest speakers on the topics and field trips to various locals in the Highland Lakes were highlights of the course, according to several graduates.
The course is offered annually, generally beginning in February. Requests for the limited class space of 20 should be made in January. Persons interested in knowing more about the Master Naturalist program can go to the Web site of the Highland Lakes Master Naturalist Chapter at http://txmn.org/highlandlakes/ .
In addition to the two Blanco graduates, the others in the Class of 2014 are: Marble Falls / Meadowlakes: Linda Brown, Kay Herring, Lou Ann Holland, Sandra Landis; Kingsland/Sunrise Beach: Judy Haralson, Marilyn McClain, Alice Rheaume, Tracy Salmi; Lynn Wolheim, and Jan Belz, Kingsland/Austin; Burnet: Mary Musselman. Horseshoe Bay: Donald Cruver, Hanna Drago, Ann Stevenson; Spicewood: Beth Mortenson, Anne Holly, Wayne Holly; Other Highland Lakes areas: John De La Garza, Buchanan Dam; Katherine Romans, Austin.
More than half of the students, who have already completed the 40 hours of Volunteer Service requirement, in addition to eight hours of Advanced Training, received their Certified Master Naturalist designation. They are Linda Brown, Donald Cruver, Hanna Drago, Judy Haralson, Lou Ann Holland, Mary Musselman, Alice Rheaume, Tracy Salmi, Scheffe, Ann Stevenson, and Lynn Wolheim.
Coordinator of this year’s class was Ralph Herter of Burnet; Melanie Huff was assistant coordinator.