Highland Lakes Master Naturalists welcome Class of 2017



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Highland Lakes Master Naturalists class of 2017 includes, front row from left, class coordinator Ann Cook, Mary Ann Holt, Sharon McBride, Barbara Baruch, Susan Montgomery, Kim Shotts and class coordinator Marcy Westcott. Second row are Cris Northup, Stennis Shotts, Nadine Cowley, Debbie Kennedy, Carey Jung and Cameron McCabe. Back row are Ken Morgan, Kelan Sanders, Rob Sproul, Dan Nugent and Don Hill. Not pictured is Anne-Marie Morgan.





By Becky Breazeale

Special to The Highlander

Eighteen candidates for the title Texas Master Naturalist recently received their certification in this program — which is comprised of 10,000 volunteers in 48 chapters, the largest and oldest statewide program of its type — during a graduation at Bamberger Ranch Preserve.

Every year, the Highland Lakes chapter of Texas Master Naturalists recruits 20 or so new members into the program by providing in-the-field training and Master Naturalist experiences. The units of study are comprised of geology and archeology, ecological regions of Texas, land management, weather and climate, and others.

Students meet once a week for 12 weeks. Upon completion of the training, they receive their Texas Master Naturalist certificate. Here is what some of the graduates said about their achievements as a volunteer and how they see their role in the program developing, using the training and experiences received.

Mary Ann Holt, a resident of Marble Falls, says that she became a Texas Master Naturalist for two reasons.

One, I wanted to learn more about our Texas natural resources and, two, I wanted to learn what I could do to help preserve them for future generations, but most especially for my two grandchildren,” Holt said. “Becoming a Texas Master Naturalist was a win-win for me. Through volunteering at numerous events in the Texas Hill Country, I get to combine my love of the outdoors with teaching others about our environment and everything it has to offer.

I see my role not only as an educator, but also a cheerleader for doing what is right, so we can keep our Texas Hill Country alive and beautiful.”

Carey Jung is an Austinite who trained with HLMN and is interested in learning more about the native flora of the Hill Country and using it in landscaping.

I may be able to help organizations like the Wildflower Center in similar efforts,” Jung said.

Debbie Kennedy, a native Texan living in Burnet, was born and raised in Houston.

I’ve always loved the Texas Hill Country, especially the Highland Lakes area! So, upon retirement in 2015, I moved here as quickly as possible,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been a nature lover since childhood and wanted to learn as much as possible about the beauty and 'naturalness' of this region

The training I’ve received as a Texas Master Naturalist has taught me everything I need to know! Recently, I’ve volunteered to share what I’ve learned by working with young people at Inks Lake State Park and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a great feeling to pass on my love of nature, and working with the kids is so much fun!

Also, I want to keep the many rivers and streams coming into and flowing out of our region as clean and pure as possible, so I’m completing a little additional training to become a Texas Waters Specialist,” Kennedy added. “In this way, I will be a well-informed volunteer who can provide outreach and service for good management of our water resources and habitats in the Highland Lakes area.”

Susan Montgomery of Cottonwood Shores said, “I wish to communicate to others in our community the importance of using native plants for wildlife and restoring our riparian areas. I hope to work toward that change with others. I am glad to be part of an organization with likeminded people willing to serve to better our planet. I certainly hope I can be of service to further the goals of all Master Naturalists by continuing to learn and sharing what knowledge I've gained with the good people of the Highland Lakes!”

Anne-Marie Morgan of Blanco admits, as a Master Naturalist volunteer, she wants to “keep learning more about the natural world and good practices, network with other volunteers, and work to expand such awareness with practical applications. I want to use this training and experience mostly centered on the camp site we are developing on our ranch and contribute to the Master Naturalist program development that way.”

As a Texas Master Naturalist, I have learned to appreciate the finer things of the outdoors,” confesses Robert Sproul of Marble Falls. “I observe more. I ask myself questions more. What is that plant? What is that tree? What are these different grasses and their benefits to nature. I see my role as serving to educate children from the local schools how to appreciate the finer things of the outdoors through our many outreach programs to the local schools in our area.

Personally, I have fallen in love with the mission of Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve. I look forward to volunteering their one day a week to help, further educate myself and serve alongside them in their mission. In doing that, I will be able to pass my education on to others. I am proud to be a Texas Master Naturalist.”

Stennis Stotts and his wife Kim, of Kingsland, both completed the training to become certified master naturalists.

We recently retired and want to spend time together and giving back to our local communities. In addition, we realize how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of Texas and we want to do everything possible to preserve this for our kids and grandkids,” they said. “The program has made us realize how little we know about nature, our local parks and the national preserves and parks in Texas.”

Interested in joining the Highland Lakes Master Naturalists? Visit their website at txmn.org/highlandlakes. New classes begin forming in the fall and information can be obtained on their website.

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