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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

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TPWD News Release — Oct. 17, 2008

Texas Master Naturalists to Receive President’s Service Award

AUSTIN, Texas — Five Texans will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award Oct. 25 for donating more than 5,000 hours of service to the Texas Master Naturalist Program, a partnership effort between Texas AgriLife Extension and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The 2008 awards nearly double the number of volunteers who have previously reached the milestone in the 10-year-old program.

The five Certified Master Naturalists to be honored for reaching the goal of 5,000 volunteer hours are Steve Houser of Wylie, Jim Varnum of Farmers Branch, Sara Beckelman of Irving, Phill Huxford of Brazoria and Tracie Teague, also of Brazoria. The volunteers will receive their awards in ceremonies Oct. 25 during the TMN Statewide Annual Meeting at Mo-Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation created the President’s Volunteer Service Award program in 2003 as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service.

The Texas Master Naturalist Program state office is the certifying organization for TMN volunteers to receive the president’s council award when volunteers reach the 5,000-hour service milestone.

The Texas Master Naturalist mission is to develop 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.

"The Texas Master Naturalist program was created to help the two agencies meet their natural resource conservation, education and research missions as the population of Texas continues to increase and become more urban," said TMN Program Coordinator Michelle Haggerty. "Master Naturalist volunteers are making huge impacts in the state of Texas by providing over 160,000 hours of service annually valued at $2.8 million last year. That was time spent reaching more than 100,000 youth, adults and private landowners; making an impact on nearly 80,000 acres of land, developing or maintaining some 760 miles of interpretive trails all while also partnering with some 300 additional partners in their chapters’ communities to make the change happen."

More information on the Texas Master Naturalist program is on the organization’s Web site. Interested parties may also contact the Texas Master Naturalist Program Coordinators; Michelle Haggerty at 830-896-2504 or Sonny Arnold at 979-458-1099

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