A Wisconsin “Master Naturalist” Program: Help Shape the Future Sherry Klosiewski Chief...
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A Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program: Help Shape the Future Sherry Klosiewski Chief Naturalist, Wisconsin State Parks Slide 2 What is a Master Naturalist program? Master Naturalist programs provide volunteers with: Education Hands-on training Service opportunities Slide 3 Example: The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer program that trains adults about Minnesotas natural resources, teaches how to educate others, and provides opportunities to do conservation projects. Slide 4 Another example: The Texas Master Naturalist Program is: Dedicated to providing instruction and volunteer opportunities for adults who wish to educate their community and demonstrate beneficial management of natural resources in Texas. Slide 5 Generally, programs require: 40-64 hours of coursework and training Natural history Environmental education and interpretation Conservation stewardship Slide 6 30-40 hours of volunteer service Stewardship projects Research/monitoring Education/interpretation Slide 7 8 hours of continuing (advanced) education each year Slide 8 16 hours of volunteer service each year Slide 9 Participants become Master Naturalists for many reasons: Learn about local/state resources Meet resource professionals and experts Socialize with like-minded folks Contribute to the protection and management of natural/cultural resources Engage in resource-related research and monitoring Slide 10 Training is a major program component. Who presents the training sessions? Agency staff University faculty Non-formal educators (nature centers, museums, zoos, tourism providers) Other local experts Slide 11 What topics are covered in these training sessions? Conservation and history of resource use Ecology, eco-regions, systems Resource management concepts How to teach Master Naturalist program administration Volunteer project selection Slide 12 What do Master Naturalist volunteers do? Construct and maintain trails, boardwalks, and other facilities Remove invasives and plant native species Slide 13 Enhance wildlife habitat Assist with research and monitoring efforts Slide 14 Lead interpretive hikes and education programs for adults and school groups Participate in special events Slide 15 Where do Master Naturalist programs currently exist? Programs are located across the country, and each has its unique mission and structure. Slide 16 Participating states include: Texas Florida West Virginia Virginia Arkansas Oklahoma Arizona Indiana Illinois Minnesota Ohio Missouri Mississippi Michigan Slide 17 These existing programs are partnership efforts: State resource agency State university/extension agency Other experts at the state, regional, and local levels Slide 18 Lets take a closer look at some Master Naturalist programs. Slide 19 How are Master Naturalist programs organized and administered? Organization and administration vary widely by state. Texas had the first program, and many states embraced their model. Slide 20 This model uses a chapter structure, with each chapter designing its own training based on a state outline. Slide 21 Others use standardized courses presented around the state by trained instructors from partner organizations. Florida Master Naturalist Program: Freshwater Wetlands Coastal Systems Upland Habitats Slide 22 Minnesota Master Naturalist Program: Big Woods, Big Rivers Prairies and Potholes North Woods, Great Lakes Slide 23 What costs are associated with Master Naturalist programs? Program costs vary widely but include: materials, transportation, instructor fees, classroom rental fees. Additional costs relate to program administration: promotions, printing, volunteer database, coordination Slide 24 How are Master Naturalist programs funded? Many states charge participant fees $50 to $250 Some states charge no fee all costs covered by agency budgets Some states receive grant funds for start-up and beyond Slide 25 Can we bring a Master Naturalist program to Wisconsin? Slide 26 Initial brainstorming session October 2005 Attended by representatives from ten agencies and organizations High level of interest in program Identified needs, concerns, and potential partnership opportunities Slide 27 Why develop a WI Master Naturalist program? Natural resource and education staff are overworked unmet demand Need to make existing volunteer efforts more effective Need to provide continuing training for volunteers Need to train volunteers on a local level Need to provide volunteer opportunities for increasing numbers of seniors Slide 28 Program sponsors want: Quality assurance monitoring, field work, teaching Broad participant base Consistent, quality training and a solid curriculum Infrastructure and staff support Reliable funding long term commitment Slide 29 How could a Master Naturalist program dovetail with existing programs? Rely on existing facilities and programs to be trainers/program sponsors Offer existing programs as advanced training opportunities Slide 30 Mesh with existing program infrastructure Promote service opportunities at existing facilities and programs Slide 31 Potential concerns include: Master Naturalist name Coordinating existing programs with a new program Need for Wisconsin-specific curriculum Administrative level support of agencies Funding Volunteer retention Slide 32 Progress to date: Initial meeting and follow-up conversations List serve of interested folks https://lists.uwex.edu/mailman/listinfo/vo l-master-naturalist Slide 33 Attendance at 2006 National Master Naturalist Conference Attendance at 2005 National Master Naturalist Planning Workshop Slide 34 Good existing program models Milwaukee County Volunteer Naturalists Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, Wisconsin Naturalists Master Gardeners, Master Woodland Stewards Slide 35 High degree of interest and support from potential sponsors, partners, supporters Slide 36 What happens next? Gather stakeholders to identify specific work plan Begin writing funding proposals, grant applications Pilot program at limited number of locations Continue to pursue long-term support Slide 37 How can you help? Get involved in planning efforts Provide training Support through funding, in-kind services Share ideas Spread the word! Slide 38 Lets work together to bring a statewide volunteer naturalist program to Wisconsin! Slide 39 Contact information: Sherry Klosiewski, Wisconsin State Parks (715) 365-8966 firstname.lastname@example.org