Master Naturalists thriving in Southwest Missouri

Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:52 am

Master Naturalists share knowledge of Missouri’s rich outdoor world.

“We are not experts on everything, but we do know quite a bit more than the general public about the outdoor world,” said Jennifer Ailor, president of the Springfield Chapter. “Some in our group are actually citizen scientists. For example, we have some who are experts in lichens that grow in Missouri. We know how stretched the MDC and Extension budgets are. Master Naturalists provide a lot of volunteer hours that help.”

More information about the Missouri Master Naturalist program is available on the Web at The Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist chapter is planning a new training class in the fall, from Sept. 8 through Oct. 27. Cost is $100, with classes meeting 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursdays in Springfield, and four Saturday field sessions.

For more information about the class, contact Jay Barber, Missouri Department of Conservation, at 417-895-6881 Ext. 269, or Patrick Byers, MU Extension,

To learn more about the Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist chapter visit their website: Also, be sure to spend some time exploring their excellent educational blog written by Bob and Barbara Kipfer at


A Master Naturalists program is also available in the Joplin area. That chapter – named Chert Glades Naturalists — was established in the summer of 2005.

One of the major projects undertaken by the Chert Glades Naturalists has been Wildcat Glades Park and Audubon Nature Center. New plantings – including 500 native Missouri trees, wildflowers and prickly pear cactus — are being conducted within the park.

Pre-school programs at the Audubon Center have also been developed by volunteers. A stream water quality session for 4th, 5th and 6th graders at the nature center was led by a Master Naturalist. Several Master Naturalist volunteers also created posters and materials for Audubon’s “Groovin’ at the Park” event.

The Master Naturalist program is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation and University of Missouri Extension.

The Master Naturalist’s mission is to promote awareness and citizen stewardship of natural resources through science-based education and community service. The program’s purpose is 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.

Participants receive 40 hours of training in Missouri ecosystems, including ecology and resource management. Participants contribute 40 hours of service in natural resource conservation through projects that meet local conservation needs in addition to eight hours of continuing education.