Be a naturalist.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program is now accepting applications for training classes that start Jan. 9, according to Tony Reisinger, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for coastal and marine resources based in San Benito.
The deadline to apply is Jan. 2. Class size is limited, but a few scholarships are available, so early applications are encouraged, Reisinger says. The fee for the training is $125.
"This is an invitation to become involved in one of the most exciting environmental programs the Valley has to offer," Reisinger says. "Participants will be furnished with all the education and information they need to help in the various strategies to restore and conserve our indigenous species and habitats."
The Valley's Texas Master Naturalist chapter started in 2002 and has more than 100 members in the four-county area it serves, Reisinger notes.
"The mission of this program is to develop and certify a group of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated toward the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within our community," Reisinger says.
In the training classes, local experts cover topics about the area's natural resources and lead hands-on field trips to local ecosystems, Reisinger says.
"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, school habitats, and educational presentations, or they can design a project of their own."
To become a certified Texas Master Naturalist in the Rio Grande chapter, trainees must attend 40 hours of training and field trips, provide 40 hours of volunteer services within a year, and take a minimum of 8 additional hours of advanced training within a year.
Classes will be held at two Valley locations this year, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday in Mission, and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday in San Benito. Participants can attend at either location or mix and match locations.
Orientation classes start Jan. 9 at the Cameron County Annex Building at Williams Road and State Highway 77/83 in San Benito, and on Jan. 10 at Bentsen State Park in Mission. Classes continue for 10 weeks.
An application form and background check must be completed and postmarked by Jan. 2. Training fee must be included with each application. Make checks payable to: RGVCTMN, and mailed to RGVCTMN Education Chair, P.O. Box 532129, Harlingen, Texas 78553.
For more, call 956-245-0177.