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Five reasons to become a Master Naturalist

By: Eric Sparks / Published: Jul 09,  2015

Nearly every state in the United States has a Master Naturalist Program that trains participants to be environmental stewards and, most importantly, how to teach stewardship to others. These programs are often hosted by universities, county extension offices and/or local environmental organizations. There are numerous reasons why becoming a Master Naturalist is a good idea.

1. Local knowledge.

The Master Naturalist program covers a range of topics relatable across the Southeast. However, local knowledge is stressed through the selection of local experts to instruct sections of the course. Most of the course sections have a lecture and lab component, so participants learn about and experience the local ecosystems first hand. The vast majority of participants learn interesting facts about ecosystems in their backyard and share that information with many other people, which leads me into my next reason to become a Master Naturalist...

2. Environmental education.

Through the Master Naturalist training, participants not only learn about natural resources, but they also receive training on how to educate others about natural resources. A primary goal of the Master Naturalist program is to develop an organization of knowledgeable volunteers to help promote conservation and management of natural resources through educating their communities. 

3. Continuous learning.

The Master Naturalist program and partners offer many advanced training opportunities throughout the year. These opportunities serve as more focused trainings on many aspects of the basic course or cover topics not included in the basic training. Thereby, continually increasing the participant’s knowledge.

4. Networking.

The selected instructors and program partners are well respected individuals and entities in the environmental field. Through the Master Naturalist program, participants get to meet, mingle, learn from and pick the brains of these environmental leaders. Often the Master Naturalist participants connect with one or more of the program partners for opportunities outside of the program.

5. Credentials.

Who doesn’t want to be able to put “Certified Master Naturalist” on their resume? Participation in this program and its associated certification often leads to participants being recognized as environmental experts and/or leaders in their communities.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Naturalist, the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium will host the basic training course for the Coastal Chapter of the Mississippi Master Naturalist Program this fall. The class schedule is one day per week from Sept. 3 to Oct. 21. Please contact me at eric.sparks@msstate.edu or 228-546-1025 for more information. 

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