Missouri Master Naturalists mix science with service. They are valuable volunteers who work on conservation projects and they help the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) connect people with nature.
MDC and the Hi Lonesome Master Naturalist Chapter will offer training in Sedalia beginning Sept. 3. Participants must register by Aug. 6. The classes will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays from Sept. 3 to Nov. 19 at the MDC Discovery Room at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. This training includes three Saturday field sessions at MDC conservation areas. An enrollment fee of $75 covers books and materials, which the naturalists keep.
“The intent of the Master Naturalist program is to better connect people to the environment and nature,” said MDC Volunteer and Interpretive Program Coordinator Syd Hime. “There are a lot of people with an interest in nature who are looking for opportunities to develop their skills as a naturalist and use those skills in volunteer service. We provide that through a community-based natural resource volunteer and education program.”
Master Naturalists are given special training regarding nature in the region where chapters are based. Members help out MDC and conservation partners through citizen science, public events, educational programs, and stewardship projects. To become a certified Master Naturalist, participants must complete an initial training course and eight hours of advanced training. They must also contribute 40 hours of natural resource-related volunteer service through a local chapter.
A Master Naturalist might be helping with a conservation program such as a bird count one week, and the next they might be helping to education youngsters on a field day about frogs and turtles. They work on a wide variety of projects and events through the seasons. Chapters also hold field trips and social events.
The Master Naturalist program is a partnership between MDC, University of Missouri Extension, and volunteers in the affiliated Master Naturalist chapters.
Information about the Master Naturalist program is available at http://extension.missouri.edu/masternaturalist/. For information about all MDC volunteer opportunities, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/about-us/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities.