At the end of October, a group of 11 Prairie Oaks Master Naturalists met up in Georgetown for the annual meeting of the Texas Master Naturalist program which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The members of the Prairie Oaks chapter were part of an annual meeting record-setting 650 members from 48 chapters across the state of Texas.

The meeting had its usual field trips to the surrounding area that represented local ecosystems, workshops for learning or getting certification in various Citizen Science programs, opportunities to learn more about various natural resources, and presentations of work that Texas Master Naturalist chapters are doing with natural resources all over the state. In addition, Master Naturalists were made aware of efforts at the state and national level to conserve fish and wildlife, one-third of which is at risk of extinction. The Reintroducing the American Wildlife Act (RAWA) could bring millions of dollars into Texas to provide support for conserving the 1,310 species in Texas that are species of greatest conservation need.

The keynote speaker, Ben Masters, a Texan who makes innovative films that address the state of natural resources in Texas and beyond, was a delight to listen to and showed portions of the work he has done on behalf of natural resources.

As energizing and joyful it is to see and interact with individual master naturalists, however, it is mind boggling to learn what the organization has accomplished over the last 20 years:

11,973 volunteers have been trained all over the state of Texas; Master Naturalist volunteers have reached 5.6 million adults and youth; 2, 120 plus miles of trails have been created and maintained; And, the economic impact this group of volunteers has had on the state of Texas is $98, 000,000—yes, that is 98 million dollars.   If you want to learn ways to become part of the Prairie Oaks Master Naturalist chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, a chapter that covers the counties of Erath, Hamilton, Comanche and Palo Pinto, email us at prairieoaksmasternaturalist@gmail.com.