TPWD Awards Grant to Texoma Master Naturalist

Bluestem Chapter Texas Master Naturalist of Sherman has been awarded a $46,886 grant In honor of the State Park Centennial Celebration. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the money will be used for environmental education purposes where Master Naturalist volunteers will be trained and students can learn about mammals, birds, soils, weather, water, geology, fossils, and GPS at Saturday programs held at Eisenhower State Park, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, and a city park.

Texas Master Naturalist are a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

Bluestem Chapter volunteers serve communities with Grayson County by partnering with Eisenhower State Park and Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge to offer educational, nature-based children’s program such as Nature-Ology, Refuge Rocks and school-based field trips.

Programs for adults include bird walks and watches and nature seminars.  The volunteers work to improve wildlife habitats and other natural spaces, including prairie restoration, Eastern Bluebird nestbox monitoring, butterfly garden upkeep and hiking trail maintenance.

Using Environmental Education Trunks to Promote Science Literacy and Outdoor Appreciation recruits and trains certified Master Naturalist volunteers to deliver interactive outreach programs using activities and materials from themed trunks for local fifth-grade classrooms.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) has awarded the largest sum of grant funding in the program’s history and support a record-breaking number of organizations connecting under-represented audiences to Texas State Parks.

More than $2.8 million will create 55 new grant-funded partnerships to help communities in promote the value of recreation and conservation across Texas.

CO-OP grant recipients are as diverse as the communities in Texas they serve. They include conservation groups, nature centers, summer camps, churches, school districts and municipalities. Funding supports a range of projects: students monitoring water quality along the Rio Grande at Big Bend Ranch State Park, deaf youth engaged in nature study with the aid of ASL interpreters, communities of color hiking at Fort Davis State Park while connecting with the cultural history of Buffalo Soldiers and breast cancer survivors discovering the healing power of fly-fishing in our rivers. Each project removes barriers for Texans to connect with nature and the mission of TPWD, learning to hunt, fish, camp or paddle and beginning a lifelong path to conservation stewardship.

CO-OP was established by TPWD in 1996 to introduce under-represented audiences to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation programs. The program is housed under the Recreation Grants Branch in TPWD’s State Parks Division and is funded through a portion of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax collected in Texas. All grant projects are competitively funded through an annual Request for Proposals process and reviewed by an internal committee according to scoring criteria approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.  Grant funds may be used for supplies, travel, training, food, personnel costs and equipment for ongoing use.

Over the past 27 years, TPWD has awarded $27 million around the state to assist in this effort.