Protecting Missouri’s natural resources is an ongoing and challenging task. The challenge is made easier when private citizen groups – as well as state agencies – can provide education, outreach information, and services. That’s the idea behind Missouri’s Master Naturalist volunteer program.
The Chert Glades Master Naturalist Chapter will hold a Master Naturalist volunteer training orientation 6:30-8 p.m. on Dec. 12 and Jan. 6 at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin. To register for this orientation, call 417-629-3423. The Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center is located at 201 W. Riviera Drive.
Attendance at one of these orientations is necessary to take part in the Master Naturalist volunteer training, which begins Jan. 27. Training classes will be 6-9 p.m. on Mondays from Jan. 27 to April 20, also at MDC’s Shoal Creek Education Center in Joplin. There are also three Saturday field sessions.
In addition to attending an orientation session, individuals must also register for the Jan. 27 – April 20 training. Registration closes Jan. 8 but class size is limited; early registration is encouraged. The enrollment fee is $110. You must be 18 years or older to participate.
The Missouri Master Naturalist program mixes science with service. Master Naturalists engage Missourians in stewardship of the state’s natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. The program is a partnership between MDC and the University of Missouri Extension.
“The intent of the Master Naturalist program is to better connect people to the environment and to nature,” said MDC Volunteer 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 training regarding nature in the region where chapters are based. Members help MDC and conservation partners through citizen science, 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.
For more information about the Chert Glades Chapter’s training, contact MDC Conservation Educator Jeff Cantrell, firstname.lastname@example.org or 417-629-3423. Information about the Master Naturalist program is available at http://extension.missouri.edu/masternaturalist/. For information about all MDC volunteer opportunities, visit mdc.mo.gov.