The Texas Master Naturalist program is a natural resource-based volunteer training and development program jointly sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The overall mission of the program is "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."
In the Hays County Master Naturalist training program, recognized experts in the field teach wildlife and conservation management, focusing their instruction on the native ecosystem of Hays County. Trainees in the program are required to attend classes, perform approved volunteer work, and attend advanced training in their areas of interest. The course gives trainees opportunities to learn about natural resource conservation, to meet and associate with others of similar interests, and to visit places in the county that they might otherwise never see.
The training program, including the training classes and chapter activities, spans approximately nine months, beginning in February and finishing in October. Ten of the classes are held on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., and two are on Saturday mornings. The classes are held at sites throughout Hays County. Additionally, there are required site visits and optional field trips. As a trainee, you are required to attend all classes or make up any missed classes in order to graduate . You may make up no more than two class meetings and still graduate with your class.
To become a "Certified Texas Master Naturalist" on graduation day, you must have attended or made up all classes, completed forty hours of approved volunteer service and attended eight hours of advanced training.
As a Texas Master Naturalist you will join a corps of volunteers who serve the local community. Many members are involved in ongoing projects such as Jacob's Well in Wimberley, the Greenbelt Alliance in San Marcos, and Charro Ranch in Dripping Springs. Some of our members are active in educational activities with local schools and make presentations at various local and regional fairs and expositions; others monitor water quality or amphibian viability. You might work with small landowners, helping them with good natural resource stewardship . You do not have to volunteer with one of the projects already in place, but instead, following guidelines, you may create your own project.
The 2015 class is now underway. Registration will open for the 2016 class next December.