On Monday, Dec. 7, at the TMN Presidents’ meeting, it was emphasized that guidelines from Agrilife Extension are in place, the most current effective December 9. These guidelines affect TMN members volunteering at Face-to-Face events. Our TMN advisors have interpreted Face-to-Face to include in-person volunteering. As a program, TMN is following these AgriLife guidelines.
The new guidance for activities is split into county by county “color codes” based on positivity rates or a rapid rise index. These color codes are defined by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and may not align with the color codes used by other entities, municipalities, etc. (i.e. What AgriLife calls “red” may not match what your local county government calls “red”). Currently, Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr Counties are identified as “Red” and Willacy is “Yellow” but our chapter must follow the strictest guidance in our territory, so we will need to follow the red level instructions. County “code” conditions will be updated weekly and communicated to TMN Presidents. At the present time, of the 48 TMN Chapters, only 6 of our Chapters do not have counties designated as “Red” (highest risk).
At the TMN Presidents’ meeting, State leaders advised that NONE of our volunteer opportunities identified in our VMS System are “Mission Critical”, therefore there will be no face-to-face, in person meetings, event, gatherings, etc. for our Chapter, including volunteering. This is to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID 19 as well as other safety issues related to activities performed as an individual. These guidelines are in place until December 23, 2020, will be reviewed by AgriLife before that time for an update, and any changes communicated to our State TMN Office and thru the Chapter Presidents to members.
You may continue to earn volunteer hours with other activities such as Virtual Volunteering as identified during our recent TMN Virtual Volunteer Fair, Project FeederWatch, CoCoRaHS, and FeederWatch Christmas Bird Counts (but no in-person Christmas Bird Counts). These conditions do not affect your activities as a private citizen, but attendance at in-person activities/events are not eligible for TMN credit of any kind. Meetings, Advanced Training, and our upcoming Training Classes will be conducted virtually.
Here is the link to the Agrilife Guidelines: https://txmn.tamu.edu/welcome/covid-19-response/
and the TMN Presidents’ meeting held Dec. 7, 2020: https://txmn.tamu.edu/chapter-presidents-meeting-december-7th-2020/
We will discuss these guidelines at our next TMN General Meeting on Dec. 20 – but please note that these guidelines are effective beginning Wednesday, Dec. 9 and continue thru Dec. 23.
After reviewing this material – especially discussions at the Presidents meeting, if you have questions, please contact me at email@example.com or 806-681-4181.
While these conditions are disappointing as we all want to volunteer to support our partner organizations, please understand these guidelines are being implemented to assure the health and safety of our members as well as the partner organization staff and visitors.
Donna Otto, President
South Texas Border Chapter – Texas Master Naturalist