Master Naturalist classes begin in January

HARLINGEN — The Valley’s twin chapters of the Texas Master Naturalists are combining to offer training to new members beginning in January.

Participants will attend weekly Thursday classes from 6 to 9 p.m. beginning Jan. 7 and continuing through March 25. Special field trips will provide unique access and learning opportunities.

The cost of the program is $150 and includes textbook, fees, T-shirt and one-year membership to the organization. The deadline for applications as well as for those seeking scholarships is Dec. 18.

The scholarships are chapter specific, either for the Rio Grande Valley chapter, which covers Cameron and Willacy counties, or the South Texas Border chapter, which covers Hidalgo and Starr counties. Both chapters share Cameron and Hidalgo counties.

Applicants for the classes must be at least 18 years old and have a notebook computer, iPad or Android pad to participate. Using a smartphone is not recommended.

The January classes will combine in-person meetings along with online seminars and will abide by local public health guidelines as to social distancing and mask-wearing.

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

“Texas Master Naturalist is a citizen volunteer program whose members have diverse interests and who become involved in myriad activities to learn about, work with, and help educate others about the special habitat and ecology of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Tony Reisinger, a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent with the Texas Sea Grant program.

“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.”

To apply for the class or find scholarship information and payment options, go online to either the Rio Grande Valley chapter at www.rgvctmn.org and click on the New Class 2020 link, or go to the South Texas Border chapter at www.stbctmn.org and click on the New Class link there.

rkelley@valleystar.com