As the wife of a U.S. Air Force service member, regularly moving around is nothing new for Annabelle Moore of the Big Country area. But moving to a new place requires some adapting.
Thanks to the local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Texas Master Naturalist chapter, Moore’s most recent move from overseas to the Lone Star State was a little easier.
“After moving to Texas, I was looking for ways to get involved in my new community,” said Moore. “It was so great to find the Texas Master Naturalist family and get plugged in right away to a fabulous community of people who really care about their home environment. It was also nice to find a group that would allow me to learn about the plants and animals in my new home while also making a positive impact on the local environment.”
Moore lived in eight states growing up but claims Colorado as home. She said she always played outside as a child and often went on hiking and camping trips with her family to state parks. Her sense of awe for the outdoors never faded, making the Master Naturalist program a natural fit.
Across the state, there are more than 16,330 Master Naturalists. Last year, those members contributed 515,454 hours of service to the program. Since the program started in 1997, volunteers in Texas have contributed more than 6.38 million hours to their local communities. Moore contributed 80 volunteer hours to the 2022 total and has already racked up 50 hours this year.
Naturally, we were interested in exploring more about Moore and her involvement with the program.
Q: How long have you been involved with Texas Master Naturalist?
A: I first heard about the program from a classmate in my graduate program not long after we moved to Texas. I was looking for ways to become involved in my local community.
I took the Texas Master Naturalist training course as soon as I could — in August 2021. We moved here in 2019, but I was delayed in joining due to the pandemic causing course enrollment to be postponed.
I am the president of the Big Country Chapter and just recently served as the program intern from April 2022-Feb. 2023.
Q: What do you do as a Texas Master Naturalist?
A: As president of the local chapter, I help with coordinating events, lead meetings and support our volunteers who do great things like lead hikes, educate school groups, visit with the community at information tables and more.
Being an intern for the program was a unique experience for me. I helped with social media communications and website content development. I also helped coordinate the 2022 Texas Master Naturalist Annual Meeting. I loved getting to meet Master Naturalists from across the state and hear about the work and projects they were doing to improve their local ecosystems. It was inspiring.
Q: What is your favorite aspect about volunteering?
A: The people. I am constantly inspired and amazed by the wonderful volunteers who are part of this program. Recently, we hosted our largest Master Naturalist-led nature hike with 42 people. It was fun to see nature lovers of all ages get excited to identify the spring flowers popping up.
Before coming to Texas, I volunteered with the American Red Cross and helped build a community garden. Being involved in my community and helping to make a difference for the people has always been important to me.
Q: What is your favorite Texas Master Naturalist event to help with?
A: It’s hard for me to pick one specifically. I enjoy events geared toward adults and kids, but the kids are so much fun. I love their creativity and the questions they come up with.
The Big Country chapter hosts monthly guided hikes and star-gazing parties at the local state park. We also do several youth wildlife and plant education training for the local school district and public library, along with lake trash cleanups and more.
Each chapter hosts different and unique events based on their part of the state. We all share a united mission but address the needs of our local environment, so the events chapter volunteers are engaged in can vary.
Most chapters have a wide range of activities that meet the Texas Master Naturalist mission: to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.
Q: Do you have a favorite wildlife or plant species that you enjoy educating others about?
A: I love learning and sharing fun facts about fungi and plants in general.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
A: I’m currently an intern with the U.S. Forest Service Resource Assistants Program, working as a project and communications assistant for the National Agroforestry Center. In my downtime, I enjoy walking, playing with and training my 1.5-year-old herding dog.
For more information on the Texas Master Naturalist program, visit https://txmn.tamu.edu/.