SAN ANTONIO — The Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program is now accepting applications for spring training classes to begin Feb. 21, said Bryan Davis, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for natural resources in Bexar County.
The Texas Master Naturalist program is co-presented by AgriLife Extension and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Davis said the deadline to apply for the training is Feb. 3 and class size is limited, so early application is encouraged. To get an application, go to http://wwww.txmn.org/alamo.
The fee for the training, which will be from 5-9 p.m. each Thursday from Feb. 21 through April 25, is $200. Classes will be held in Suite 208 of the AgriLife Extension office in Conroy Square, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive in San Antonio.
Master Naturalist training covers a wide variety of topics including biodiversity, hydrology, horticulture, reptiles and amphibians, soils, wildlife, archeology, plant taxonomy, insects, ecology, geology, birds, habitats, and laws and ethics related to nature preservation.
“Besides the classroom experience, four field trips to our local natural areas are offered,” said Liz Robbins, chapter president. “From walking along the trails at Friedrich Park to hiking along the river at the San Antonio Mission Reach area, these field trips will expand your understanding of the importance of protecting the natural resources of our city and surrounding areas. If you were ever interested in learning about the ecological background of the area, this is the course for you.”
Davis said Master Naturalists are “volunteers dedicated to conserving and protecting natural resources and to promoting youth and adult education concerning ecology.”
“The Alamo Area Master Naturalist program is one of the most interesting, diverse and useful environmental programs in the state,” Davis said. “Participants get the information they need to help in strategies to restore and conserve our indigenous species and natural habitats. They also participate in field trips to local ecosystems that bring them closer to nature and provide them with hands-on experience.”
To become a certified Texas Master Naturalist in the Alamo Area Chapter, trainees must fulfill several requirements, including attending a total of 40 hours in training and field trips, provide 40 hours of volunteer services within a year and take a minimum of eight hours of advanced training within a year. To maintain active status, Texas Master Naturalists must provide 40 hours of volunteer service and take eight additional hours of advanced training per year.
According to organization materials, since 1998 the Alamo Area Chapter has trained more than 700 volunteers and in recent years has averaged more than 15,000 volunteer service hours annually. This includes assisting many local and regional organizations such as the City of San Antonio Natural Areas, San Antonio Botanical Garden, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and AgriLife Extension.
“Each trainee can select from a wide variety of approved local projects to volunteer their time, which can include habitat restoration, native plant rescues, native seed collection and educational presentations,” Davis said. “Or they can design a project of their own.”
An application form and background check must be completed. The tuition fee is due upon acceptance to the program.