Interpreting Nature

by Kris Kirkwood on March 5, 2018

By Phil Stapleton, certified Texas Master Naturalist

My wife, Rebecca, and I have always loved to visit the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  It has been one of our favorite places to enjoy our beautiful south Texas coast.  Last year we started volunteering as interpretive guides on the Aransas Refuge.  As interpretive guides, we learned as much as possible about the refuge plants and wildlife so we could help visitors.  One of the most helpful books to learn about the refuge is The Guidebook to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge by Dr Wayne H McAlister & Martha McAlister. 

Our goal as interpretive guides is to help maximize the experience for as many visitors as we can.  With that in mind, we select areas of the refuge that will have the most possible visitors.  Heron Flats Trail, Jones Lake, and the Observation Tower are likely visitation spots.  Armed with spotting scope, binoculars, and nature journal, we settle down to let Mother Nature come to us.  Not surprising, if you spend several hours at the same locations every week, you really get to know the plants and animals of the seasons very intimately.  We learn where the green herons like to feed, where the whitetail hawks hunt, where the alligators spend their day, and other such interesting information.  Most visitors would briefly walk out to the observation platform without really seeing nature around them.  Without the encouragement to look and observe, the visiting public would miss a lot of the wildlife on the refuge. We feel we’ve accomplished our mission if guests leave with a new appreciation for the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

If you enjoy the outdoors and meeting people from all over the country and the world, maybe you would also enjoy being an interpretive guide.

Nurturing Future Master Naturalists

New Goose Island Opportunities

by Kris Kirkwood on February 25, 2018

Mid-Coast Master Naturalists cleared trails at Goose Island State Park on Friday, February 23:
Joe and Pat Garland, Bill Burge, Debbi Roskey, Phil Stapleton, Kris Kirkwood, Marilyn Stewart,
and Rebecca Stapleton. Still out on the trail: Neill Amsler and KarenLee Rystad

This from Kendal Keyes, TPWD: 

Thanks to the entire group for all the great work done yesterday at Goose Island. The trails look terrific. I walked the entire length yesterday and the entire trail is open and looks perfect. The group of ten worked for 3 to 4.5 hours and cleared five large areas where trees blocked the trail. Attached is the group photo, minus Neill and KarenLee who were still hard at work! I am cc’ing our Adminstrative Assistant, Zane, so she can include this info in our next newsletter.

Next Opportunity: Want a chance to help with the new Big Tree Natural Area at Goose Island? A Big Tree Workday for Mid-Coast Master Naturalists is scheduled for this Wednesday, Feb 28th beginning at 8:30. Check your email for details.

Coming soon: The new bird-watching area needs some carpentry and fencing work.

Unusual Opportunities

by Kris Kirkwood on February 11, 2018

During the potluck lunch for the new training class, Paul Meredith briefly described two citizen-science projects Mid-Coast TMN’ers can participate in.  Here are some details, including where to find them on the web and how to report participation activity.

Bees and Wasps of Texas

Bees and Wasps of Texas is an effort of the Texas Native Bee Co-op and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The purpose of this project is to enhance our understanding of the distribution of bees and wasps in Texas. Our highest priority is to collect information on Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). However, we hope this project will lead to a better understanding of the distribution of all bee and wasp species in Texas and we encourage others to use this data for research, education, and conservation purposes.

B&WofTX volunteer hours including travel to a site, photographing observations, recording observational data in your journal, processing images, identification of observed subjects, and reporting of observations in the project on’s website. Report your volunteer time in VMS as FR: Insect Life.


The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). Find it at CoCoRaHS.

By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website, the aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications. Few citizen scientists are reporting in our Chapter area. You can make a difference.

Web-based training on CoCoRaHS research protocols and methods is approved as advanced training for Mid-Coast TMN members.  Report your training as AT: Specific-Project. Volunteer service hours on the project can be reported monthly as FR: Other Partners.

Know Your Newbies 2018

by Kris Kirkwood on February 6, 2018

The Mid-Coast TMN Class of 2018 began their training February 3, 2018. When you see our new Members-in-Training, say hello!

Left to right: Adrian Rios, Gloria Rios, Jeanne Crocker, Rusty Crane, Denise Crane, Phoebe Wilson, Marilyn Stewart, Julie Hejducek, Debbi Roskey, Lee Keene, Debbie Kucera, Sharon Snider, Rob Snider, Debbie Dahms-Nelson, Greg Nelson, Vickie Wilson. Not present: Jane Moore.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." – Gandhi
Don't live in our area? Go to TMN State.