Thursday, January 29, 2015

Love nature? Become a Master Naturalist with MDC

Missouri Master Naturalist volunteers support conservation efforts and natural resource education in their local communities.
COLUMBIA, Mo.— Missouri Master Naturalists mix science with service. They engage Missourians in the stewardship of our state's natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. To get started as a volunteer, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), along with the University of Missouri (MU) Extension, will be holding Master Naturalist training sessions in Columbia and Camdenton.
MDC will offer the following Master Naturalist training in Columbia:
  • The Columbia Boone’s Lick Chapter is offering a training class beginning Mar. 3. Classes will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday’s from Mar. 3 to May 12 at the MU Family Impact Center, 105 E. Ash St., Columbia. Individuals interested in learning more about the program should attend an orientation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the MU Family Impact Center.
  • Participants must register by Feb. 16 and the enrollment fee is $95.
MDC will offer the following Master Naturalist training in Camdenton:
  • The Lake of the Ozarks Chapter is offering a training class beginning Feb. 23. Classes will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday’s from Feb. 23 to May 18 at the MDC Camdenton office, 783 Thunder Mountain Rd., Camdenton. Individuals interested in learning more about the program should attend an orientation from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2 at the MDC Camdenton office. 
  • Participants must register by Feb. 9 and the enrollment fee is $100.
“The intent of the Master Naturalists program is to better connect people to the environment and nature,” said MDC Volunteer & 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 public events, educational demonstrations, 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.
The Master Naturalist program is a partnership between the MDC and MU extension, and the volunteers who serve in the program.
For more information about the Columbia Boone’s Lick Chapter contact Kent Shannon, MU Extension, at shannond@missouri.edu or 573-445-9793; or Suzanne Wright,frontdesk@pwarchitects.com or 573-445-9793. For the training in Camdenton, contact Jackie Rasmussen, MU Extension, at rasmussenj@missouri.edu or 573-346-2644; or Jodi Moulder, MDC private land services specialist, Jodi.moulder@mdc.mo.gov or 573-346-2210 ext. 233.
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.