Presenter: Michelle Haggerty
Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Texas Master Naturalist Program
I. Executive Summary: This item will provide an update and overview of the department's highly successful Texas Master Naturalist Program (TMN). Administered through the Wildlife Diversity Branch of the Wildlife Division and in partnership with Texas Cooperative Extension, this program makes positive impacts on Texas natural resources and saves millions of dollars through volunteer efforts. The TMN program is part of the implementation strategies of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan and the Land & Water Conservation Plan.
II. Discussion: Texas Master Naturalist program trains and manages chapters of certified volunteers who become stewards for habitat and natural resources near their communities. Volunteers function as outreach specialists to build awareness regarding native species, ecosystems and conservation management to ensure the long-term sustainability and enjoyment of our Texas natural areas and resources now and into the future. The organization, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has made significant gains to further the mission and goals of both TPWD and Texas Cooperative Extension and currently has 41 chapters involving more than 4,500 Master Naturalist volunteers who have dedicated over 635,000 hours of service related to natural resource community projects, habitat management, education and outreach valued at more than $10.1 million. Additionally, TMN serves as the model for a growing national program. As stated by a Texas Master Naturalist volunteer, this program truly is the demonstration that "bit-by-bit builds to bunches-each fact learned builds knowledge; each activity added together creates change."