If you read this column each week, I imagine you love to be outside around nature.

Some of you love plants, some enjoy birds, and others are interested in becoming more environmentally conscious.

Three years ago, I found a program that fits the outdoor-lover in all of us.

Let me tell you a little about it.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife and the AgriLife Extension office partnered to develop a program called Texas Master Naturalist. It is designed for anyone 18 years or older who has an interest/passion for the outdoors and wants to be more involved in learning and volunteering in several areas dealing with nature.

The mission statement for the Texas Master Naturalist program is “to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers who provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the state of Texas.”

Some great things about this program are it brings together an eclectic group of residents for a common purpose, the training covers many areas of interest that appeal to just about everyone, and the activities and projects the members accomplish help our state’s natural areas, waterways and parks.

Some of the areas the Texas Master Naturalist training covers are: ornithology; ichthyology; herpetology; geology; soil, aquatic, forest, wetlands and rangeland ecology; plants; weather; and volunteering.

These training sessions are taught by top authorities in their fields and they put the trainees in the environment in which they are studying. There is very little classroom time.

To find out more about the Texas Master Naturalist program, go to txmn.org. The chapter in this area is called Central Texas Master Naturalists and there is a class beginning within the month. To inquire about joining the class, go to the website or call the AgriLife Extension office in Belton at (254) 933-5305.

I just love the training, projects, the camaraderie and the opportunities to give my time and efforts to this great state. I think you will, too. Check it out today.

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