TMN Certifying and Re-certifying in 2020
Options Added and Some Requirements Relaxed
by Scott Hudson
When it comes to certifying new members and re-certifying existing members the Texas Master Naturalist program has high standards for quality. We’ve signed on, of course, to complete 40 hours of basic training, 40 hours of approved volunteer service, and 8 hours of approved advanced training. Meeting those in a normal year is a good job. Under Safe at Home restrictions it is challenging to build our volunteer service and advanced training hours.
Our sponsors at AgriLife are here to help. Many of you know Mary Pearl Meuth and Michelle Haggerty in the state office. Among their other duties they have been working hard to help with basic and advanced training and volunteer hours. Bearing in mind that “the key tenets of our program are a ‘masters’ level basic training & volunteer service,” they have helpful policy updates and new guidance for 2020. Here are some key points of those changes. The full details may be reviewed here.
Basic Training – The New Class requirement for field trips is waived for 2020, in view of field-based training being delayed through the shutdown. Students are, however, encouraged to participate in field trips as they become available and audit field courses in future years. Students are also encouraged to audit future in-person classes to reinforce course material covered online.
Advanced Training – Exceptions will be made for Advanced Training in 2020 as described below, but 8 hours minimum will still be required.
- Online-based training and webinars will accepted for all of the minimum of 8 hours of advanced training hours required for certification. Additional AT hours can be earned through distance or in-person courses once shutdown lifted.
- Consider attending in-person advanced trainings once travel & health restrictions lift.
- Please limit advanced trainings that are pre-recorded, not live or not interactive in their online format.
Volunteer Service – Anticipating a return to business as usual by the fall, and as restrictions have been eased as of June 1 (more on that here), the requirement for a full 40 hours of Volunteer Service will not be changed for 2020. Chapters are encouraged to consider these options to switch to distance service:
- Write a newsletter article spotlighting a local Species of Greatest Conservation Need or create a presentation to give in the fall.
- Verify or assist with curating observations in iNaturalist or eBird
- Contribute to the chapter’s newsletter and other publications
- Plan for fall trainings, advanced training and projects
- Write Grants
- Update chapter websites
- Update chapter brochures and outreach materials
- Review/make comments to the TMN bylaws, CMOP and COH documents for possible considerations to state program 2020 updates.
- Join a planning committee for the TMN Annual Meeting and events
- Assist leadership with managing your chapter.
At NTMN we are open to your ideas.
IMPORTANT NOTE – ALL volunteer service MUST meet local and federal guidelines for limited travel and social distancing. Local Guidelines currently vary city to city and county to county. Some considerations: We encourage members to limit engaging in service at parks, nature centers, gardens even if following distancing and cleaning guidelines – consider your travel there (i.e stopping at a gas station) or the potential safety situations when working by yourself at a remote site. It is strongly recommended that these types of service be limited out of an abundance of caution and are not required to complete under social distancing restrictions.