Volunteer Service Requirements
(adapted from txmn.org)
In order to attain certification, a Texas Master Naturalist trainee must complete a minimum of 40 volunteer service hours within one year of the initial training series. To retain the title of Texas Master Naturalist, a volunteer must complete another 40 hours in every subsequent year. Volunteer service hours are those direct contact hours spent on Texas Master Naturalist projects approved by the local coordinating committee. Time spent on Chapter leadership positions, such as serving as an executive board member, should receive service hours credit. Additionally, it is recommended that local Chapters establish allowable limits on the amount of service hours granted for these leadership positions as the focus of the Texas Master Naturalist program is on-the-ground and in-the-field public service activities. However, volunteers should not be discredited for service activities relating to the development and management of a local chapter.
Volunteer projects may be a series of short experiences such as serving on a speaker’s bureau – or they may involve the long-term efforts of an entire volunteer team. Either way, for a master volunteer, the opportunity to do meaningful and interesting work is the reward. Texas Master Naturalist trainees will vary in their abilities. Some will want volunteer opportunities to be presented to them, while others will see a need and want to design their own project. Texas Master Naturalist trainees should be encouraged to design volunteer projects that are interesting to them and capitalizes on their individual talents. There are few constraints, excepting that volunteer service must be dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.
Volunteer hours credited for the Texas Master Naturalist program may not be credited from or to another Master Volunteer or volunteer program.
A trained volunteer, no matter how little or how much volunteer service they are providing the chapter within a given year, is always considered a Master Naturalist volunteer. Master Naturalist volunteers in any given year are either “Certified” or working towards certification for that given year.
Unanticipated situations, i.e. family illness, medical procedures, accidents, etc., that will prevent a member from attaining the required 40 hours of volunteer service can be addressed in an appropriate manner by the Chapter’s Executive board.
A volunteer shall be presented with a Texas Master Naturalist certificate and a color dragonfly pin when that volunteer has completed all of the required 40 hours of Texas Master Naturalist training; the minimum 40 hours of service; and the minimum 8 hours of advanced training. Each of the above requirements must be completed within the first year of that volunteer’s involvement in the Texas Master Naturalist program. In Chapters training in small blocks of time, such as once a week for 12 weeks straight, the volunteers’ year to obtain the 40 hours of service begins the day of their last class. However, volunteers are encouraged to begin service and training at the same time. Many volunteers like and exceed a challenge to finish their volunteer service before their training is complete. In Chapters training over the course of a year (e.g. once a month over the course of a year), the volunteer has 15 months from the first day of their first class to complete their 40-hour service requirement. In both cases, volunteers are receiving the opportunity to complete their service requirement over a 15-month time span.
Certification and Milestone Pins
The Master Naturalist program offers a series of pins commemorating different milestone achievements within the program. The milestone pins honor those volunteers that have given 250 (silver dragonfly pin), 500 (bronze dragonfly pin), 1,000 (gold dragonfly pin) and 5,000 hours of service (gold dragonfly w/ diamond). These milestones are cumulative. A volunteer may reach these milestones within one year or over the course of several years. Volunteers should only receive one of each of these pins during their involvement in the program once they meet these milestones. Given these milestones, it is important that a chapter and a volunteer always report service hours above and beyond the 40-hour minimum.
The Master Naturalist program will also have a specially designed pin for each year a certified volunteer maintains their certification by obtaining the required service and advanced training–which at the state level consists of a minimum of 40 hours of service and 8 hours of advanced training annually. There will be a new pin design each year and this design will only be available during that given year. Each volunteer, given that they have attained the requirements, should only receive one of these pins during the given year. Volunteers being certified for the first time through the program will still receive their certificate and a dragonfly pin only. They are only eligible to receive an Annual re-certification pin in their second year of involvement in the program. Likewise, volunteers should only receive the dragonfly pin once during their involvement in the Master Naturalist program.