Have you ever wanted to explore Nebraska's natural resources but didn't know where to start or whom to speak with?
That's where the Nebraska Master Naturalist program comes in.
"We work with our many conservation partners to provide fulfilling educational and volunteer opportunities to our Master Naturalist volunteers," said Annabel Lee Major, Nebraska Master Naturalist program coordinator.
Launched in 2009, the program is designed to engage adults ages 19 and up with Nebraska ecosystems, plants, animals and more. Participants explore Nebraska’s natural beauty alongside scientists, faculty and natural resource professionals and train to become certified Master Naturalists.
"The level of contribution that our volunteers have made to natural resource conservation is substantial," Major said. "Since our first training in 2010, we have certified 207 Master Naturalists."
In that time, the Nebraska Master Naturalists have contributed 17,000 hours of service valued at more than $350,000.
"With the majority of them just getting started, they have taken on significant projects, including organizing volunteers for educational projects and serving as volunteer technicians," Major said.
Training sessions are offered every year and the upcoming 2014 training schedule is as follows:
• Thursdays through Saturdays from April 3-26 in Omaha and Lincoln
• Thursdays through Saturdays from May 1-17 in Omaha and Lincoln
• Sunday through Saturday from June 8-14 at the Niobrara Valley Preserve
Sessions include topics such as conservation biology and ecology, grassland ecosystems, reptiles/amphibians, insects and birds, among many others. Registration is $250 and discounts may be available. People interested in the program are encouraged to apply online at http://naturalist.unl.edu or by calling 308-382-1820.
Following the selection process, participants complete 60 hours of hands-on training both in the classroom and in the field. After completion of the training session, participants are asked to complete 20 hours annually of volunteer service and eight hours of continuing education in the natural resources to attain and maintain certification.
Since the Master Naturalist program is an extension outreach program within UNL's School of Natural Resources, many SNR faculty members have been involved in the development of the program's curriculum and training sessions.
"With more SNR faculty getting involved in our program, the opportunities are boundless," Major said. "There are many new experiences to be had and great new people to meet."
— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/3exr