Texas Master Naturalist Q&A

Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 115+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner Texas Master Naturalist and their work training well-informed community leaders who effect positive change in the natural resource management in their communities.

Q: Tell us about The Texas Master Naturalist Program and its mission.

A: The Texas Master Naturalist Program mission is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

Many communities and organizations rely on such volunteers for implementing youth education programs; for operating parks, nature centers, and natural areas; and for providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. In fact, a short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts. The Texas Master Naturalist Program is training volunteers to help in these conservation efforts.

Q: What is the history of The Texas Master Naturalist Program?

A: The Texas Master Naturalist program began in 1997 and has grown from 4 chapters and 400 volunteers to 48 chapters and over 15,220 volunteers today. Our program’s foundation is based upon the partnership between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. What makes the work of a Master Naturalist so important is that they are not only individuals who love nature and offer their time, but are also trained naturalists with specialized knowledge of different ecosystems, species, habitats, and environmental demands.

How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?

Q: We achieve our mission through our amazing corps of volunteers and chapters across the state. 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. We welcome all Texans aged 18 and above to join!

Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs? 

A: Our Texas Master Naturalist Chapters all work diligently in their local areas to address the environmental needs of their communities. Members have worked on projects such as:

  • Working as a wetland restoration team along a coastal area
  • Assisting with field surveys of endangered species such as the Golden-Cheeked Warbler
  • Presenting interpretive programs to campers at state parks
  • Performing water quality test
  • Restoring a blackland prairie in a city park
  • Assisting a nature center with the establishment of a herbarium
  • Developing and maintaining nature trails and leading informative hikes
  • Improving a wetland habitat along a river
  • Assisting with a turtle patrol along a beach
  • Leading a school class on a nature hike or conducting a workshop at a school
  • Assisting with the Texas Horned Lizard Watch

Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects and programs?

A: Members of the Texas Master Naturalist Program have made incredible impacts through the entirety of our program since its 1997 inception through this past year, 2021. Our corps of volunteer citizen scientists have:

  • Helped to train – or become – one of 474 new members in 2021 adding to the ranks of some 15,220 who have been trained as Texas Master Naturalists since our program’s inception.
  • Contributed 442,595 hours of service in 2021 and more than 5.9 million hours to date!
  • Master Naturalist volunteer service in 2021 was valued at $10.18 million and more than $131.53 million to date!
  • Obtained 64,551 hours of Advanced Training in 2021 and 877,664 hours of AT to date.
  • Reached over 137,526 youth, adults, and private landowners in 2021 and more than 6.63 million people to date.
  • Added 2 new acres under stewardship and management projects in 2021 and made an impact on more than 229,100 acres of Texas to date.
  • Developed or maintained more than 2,234+ miles of trail to date.

“As a Texas Master Naturalist, you’ve heard us say that when you put on the dragonfly badge, your name tags, your pins, or your Texas Master Naturalist shirt – you are part of something bigger. You are part of our state’s largest conservation and stewardship movement. YOU ARE our Texas Master Naturalist Family! And our family is awesome!” – Mary Pearl Meuth, Master Naturalist Assistant State Program Coordinator

Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or challenges ahead?

A: We are excited to host our 23rd Texas Master Naturalist Program Annual Meeting, an event to gather, learn, and celebrate another year of the Texas Master Naturalist Program this fall. We’re preparing this year’s meeting as an in-person event at the Omni Houston on Thursday, October 20th through Sunday October 23rd. This year’s agenda is packed with 100+ concurrent technical sessions lined up with a huge variety of topics–from laws & ethics to native pollinators, from fungi to bird conservation issues and from youth programming to water quality community science.

Q: Are there any other interesting news / events / facts about your organization? 

A: On Tuesday October 11th, at 12p.m. we will host a Texas Master Naturalist Chapter Project Fair as part of our #TMNTuesday monthly online webinars. All are welcome to learn about conservation efforts conducted by Texas Master Naturalist Chapters across the state. Visit the #TMNTuesday website for more information and a link to register: https://txmn.tamu.edu/tmntuesdays/

#TMNTuesdays are open to the public to join anytime and recordings of each month’s topic are shared on the same website.

Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?

A: The first step is to visit our site: https://txmn.tamu.edu/about/want-to-be-a-master-naturalist/. Texas Master Naturalists not only get their feet wet and their hands dirty, but while doing so, they spend time in a natural setting. Master Naturalist Trainees must successfully complete an approved training program with at least 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction though a Texas Master Naturalist Chapter. 

After completing the training above, the candidate donates at least 40 hours of volunteer service back to the state and community. Trainees can complete their 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training within a year after completion of their initial training to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist. In subsequent years, the candidate must complete another 8 hours of advanced training and donate 40 hours of volunteer service to maintain their certification (or to re-certify) as a Texas Master Naturalist.

Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 115+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.