PHARR – Registration is open to join the 2020 South Texas Border Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist training class. Hidalgo, Starr and Cameron county residents, over the age of 18, and Winter Texans are welcome.

Texas Master Naturalist is a unique educational volunteer program sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Sea Grant Program and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Texas Master Naturalist chapters are made up of volunteers with diverse interests who are involved in myriad activities to learn about, work with, and help educate others about the special land in which we live,” said chapter sponsor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Tony Reisinger.

“When nature is left to itself, a unique ecosystem develops -- after hundreds of years,” Reisinger said. “Today, that unique ecosystem is what Texas Master Naturalists learn about and help sustain: the Rio Grande Valley’s native habitat and the critters that depend on it.”

Classes are taught by local university professors, and other field experts, including those from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Students attend weekly Tuesday classes from 6 to 9 p.m. beginning January 7 through April 14, at St. George Orthodox Church Hall, 704 W. Sam Houston, in Pharr. In addition, special field trip options for trainees provide unique access and learning opportunities.

Trainees join volunteer teams with other chapter members and work among more than 60 local partners that include federal and local wildlife parks, coastal naturalist programs, cities, schools, and other public entities.

There are hundreds of opportunities available to volunteers from studying ocelots and other mammals, to joining cutting-edge university studies, developing public native gardens, learning about native plants and habitat, citizen science projects, bird migration and shore birds to Gulf and beach inhabitants and trends.

Texas Master Naturalists also offer free PowerPoint presentations to groups on a variety of native subjects; they train as docents and nature guides at local wildlife preserves.

The chapter has monthly guest speakers the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are free and open to the public.

Deadline to apply for the 2020 class is December 15. Class size is limited, so apply now. The cost is $150 and includes textbook, fees, t-shirt and one-year membership. Full scholarships are available. Requests for scholarships are also due by December 15.

To apply for the class, follow the instruction sheet on our New Class Webpage at https://www.stbctmn.org/the-next-class. 

To request a scholarship application – or if you have other questions – please contact the new class director, Anne Mayville, at nurse_anne@msn.com.

Check out the chapter Website at https://www.stbctmn.org/.