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Janet Laminack: Nature brings people together

If you are a lifelong learner, interested in the natural world and want to give back to your community through volunteer service, I would encourage you to check out the Texas Master Naturalists program.

Come learn more about this program at the 2016 Master Naturalist Trainee Class Open House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Denton County Elections Administration office at 701 Kimberly Drive in Denton. The open house is an opportunity to talk to current master naturalists and ask questions. Come for lunch and learn more about this volunteer program and view exhibits displaying many of the ongoing Elm Fork Chapter community projects.

The Elm Fork chapter is the local chapter which serves Denton, Cooke and Wise counties. It is currently recruiting for its newest training class, which begins Aug. 30 and goes through Nov. 15, every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This course is an intensive 60-hour training on the region’s natural features and the impact that people have on nature. It features presentations by biologists, geologists, naturalists and others from local, state and federal agencies and universities.

To become a certified master naturalist, one must complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service and eight hours of advanced training during the first 12 months following the completion of the course (to be completed before your course’s graduation anniversary date). Applications and tuition are due by Aug. 18, and the tuition fee is $150.

The Texas Master Naturalists program was created to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Many communities and organizations rely on such citizen volunteers for implementing youth education programs, operating parks, nature centers and natural areas and providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. In fact, a short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts.

The Elm Fork Chapter works at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA), Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Bob Jones Nature Center, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center and Trophy Club Nature Trails, just to name a few.

Projects include bluebird box monitoring, trail building, bird walks and nature hikes, water quality monitoring and educational presentations to youth and adults and many more activities. Come learn more at the open house.

The application, course curriculum and more information about the Master Naturalists program can be found at https://txmn.org/elmfork/or by calling 940-349-2883. We will seek to provide reasonable accommodation for all persons with disabilities for this program. Please contact the Denton County Extension office as soon as possible to advise us of the auxiliary aid or service that will be required.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or via email at jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu.