New book, certification program available for Texas Master NaturalistsBy Eva Vigh
Texas Master Naturalists interested in better understanding and solving water issues across the state now have two new opportunities to do so.
The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) recently authored a “Texas Water Resources” chapter in the new Texas Master Naturalist Statewide Curriculum that explores the state’s most pressing water resources topics.
One of 24 instructional units in the book, the TWRI-authored water resources chapter addresses a variety of water topics, including the water cycle, water resources management, the importance of water conservation and protection, and the state’s water policies.
Although it was written for Master Naturalists, the book and chapter can help anyone with an interest in the natural resources in Texas be more educated on the state’s water issues, said Nikki Dictson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist for TWRI. Texas Master Naturalist programming is funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and AgriLife Extension.
TPWD is also launching a new curriculum, Texas Waters: Exploring Texas Water and Watersheds, and an eight-hour Texas Waters Specialist Certification Program for Texas Master Naturalists.
Master Naturalists wishing to become certified Texas Water Specialists can register and attend the Texas Waters Day, Oct. 21 in Montgomery. The conference will introduce the new certification program and provide printed copies of the curriculum to participants. The deadline to register is Sept. 30.
TPWD experts will speak on the program overview, importance of getting involved in Texas water issues and characteristics of healthy watersheds. Dictson will present on how both natural- and human-caused changes are affecting watersheds and will highlight some potential community service opportunities.
Texas Master Naturalists need to complete eight hours of training to be certified water and watershed specialists, Dictson said. The four-hour Texas Waters Day and four one-hour webinars that will be offered in the spring will count towards training. The goal of the program is to develop volunteer specialists who educate others and provide service to beneficially manage aquatic resources and habitats within their communities.
TWRI water team members Dr. Kevin Wagner, Dictson, Dr. Lucas Gregory, Clare Entwistle, Dr. Allen Berthold and Brian Jonescu contributed to the chapter, along with former TWRI graduate research assistants Kirstin Hein, Chelsea Hawkins and Aubry Wolff. Dr. Diane Boellstorff, associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and AgriLife Extension specialist, and Drew Gholson, AgriLife Extension program specialist in the same department, also contributed to the chapter.
The Texas Master Naturalist book is available for purchase through the Texas A&M University Press.
To become a certified Master Naturalist, trainees must complete a 40-hour Master Naturalist chapter program, eight hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer service. More information on existing area chapters can be found here.