Do you love learning about the natural world? Volunteering? What about learning about nature AND volunteering? You're perfect for the ANS Master Naturalist volunteer training program.
Master Naturalist is a state-wide program of the University of Maryland Extension that certifies naturalists through classroom education as well as field work and volunteer service. Once certified, naturalists, “engage citizens as stewards of Maryland’s natural resources and ecosystems through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities.” ANS has been a host site for the program since 2011.
Instruction is specific to one of three physiographic regions in Maryland: the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, or Mountain Region. ANS is in the Piedmont Region. The ANS program intstructors are university scientists, government resource managers and our own Natural History Field Studies instructors and ANS Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason.
In total, to earn the Master Naturalist certification, the requirement is 52 hours of training in the ecology, flora and fauna of Maryland; 8 hours of hands-on field work; and 40 hours of volunteer service the first year. To maintain certification, Master Naturalists continue to provide at least 40 hours of service each year along with a minimum of 8 hours of approved advanced training, which may consist of lectures, educational field experiences, conferences, briefing sessions or course work. Our adult programs offer plenty of opportunities for Master Naturalists to keep their skills fresh.
Paula Wang was certified in ANS's 2014 Volunteer Master Naturalist class:
“Since completing the program I have been involved with a variety of projects from working the ANS table at community events, to stream monitoring, participating in the [Woodend] sanctuary/University of MD deer count, to a multitude of education/interpretation programs. The bulk of my service hours have been in the education arena and have included the development of interpretive materials (for the ANS Banks Bird Collection and for two Camp Audubon programs) and working in a wide variety of the educational programs (in-school and sanctuary school programs, after school programs, family weekend walks, Creek Critters, Green Kids, salad science) and as a leader at Camp Audubon. The best part of becoming a Master Naturalist is spending time sharing my love of the natural world with others.”
The application deadline to join the ANS's 2016 Volunteer Master Naturalist class is August 1, 2016. This fall, the class will meet at Woodend on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, September 27 through November 10, 2016. There is a $250 fee paid to UMD Extension for the cost of materials.