Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists: Volunteers Implementing the Galveston Bay Plan
The Galveston Bay Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer education program designed to create a group of informed individuals knowledgeable of the values and uses of Galveston Bay's natural resources. Volunteers participate in classroom and field training. They must complete 40 volunteer service hours in restoration and education projects and eight advanced training hours to become a certified Master Naturalist. These trainings are fun and hands-on learning experiences. 185 volunteers participate in the program. The average age of the Master Naturalist volunteer is 56 years young. Partners include local governments, universities, state agencies, private industry and non-profit organizations. The Master Naturalists are involved implementing the Galveston Bay Plan through wetland restoration projects, habitat restoration of prairies and marshes, radio-tracking endangered birds, water quality and invasive species monitoring, conducting educational marsh field trips for students and constructing walk through wetlands at schools where minority students learn about the values of wetlands. In 2004, the volunteers sponsored the "Estuaries Live Day" in Galveston where 400 students learned about Galveston Bay's resources. They also conduct mini-Master Naturalist workshops for teachers during the summer. In five years, these volunteers have provided 74,988 hours of volunteer service and educated 124,136 individuals! The value of these service hours to the local community and Galveston Bay's natural resources is estimated to be $1,352,789. This hands-on presentation of the Master Naturalist Program will introduce how the program has been developed for the Galveston Bay area. It will focus on the best methods for educating adult volunteers, encouraging involvement in education and restoration activities, creating partnerships and how to maintain and increase volunteer involvement and satisfaction.