2017 Bright Idea
Winners:
State of Texas
January 1, 2017
Jurisdiction:
Texas

The Texas Master Naturalist (TMN) program, initiated statewide by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, develops corps of ‘master volunteers’ who provide education, outreach, and service dedicated toward the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas. With over 400 local, state and national partners, the TMN program continues to result in a unique master volunteer organization. Volunteers gain the Texas Master Naturalist designation after completing a 40-hour training series of combined field and classroom instruction, engaging in 8 hours of approved advanced training, and providing at least 40 hours of volunteer service in their local communities. Volunteers maintain their certification by completing an additional 40 hours of service and 8 hours of advanced training annually. The most common volunteer activities include: public education programs, wildscape development and demonstrations, citizen science, species inventories, habitat management projects, and assistance in agency research studies. Since 1998, the program has grown from 4 chapters and 150 volunteers to 46 chapters and over 10,400 volunteers. Today the program serves a multitude of diverse Texas communities with additional expansion taking place continually.  Program volunteers have provided over 3.2 million hours of service valued at more than $75 million given back to the state since its inception.  This service has resulted in 221,200 acres of enhanced wildlife and native plant habitats, reaching over 2.5 million youth, adults and private landowners through overwhelmingly positive conservation education programs, and restored wildlife and habitat conservation initiatives in the minds of the public in Texas.