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A Wisconsin “Master Naturalist” Program: Help Shape the Future Sherry Klosiewski Chief Naturalist, Wisconsin State Parks.

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Presentation on theme: "A Wisconsin “Master Naturalist” Program: Help Shape the Future Sherry Klosiewski Chief Naturalist, Wisconsin State Parks."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Wisconsin “Master Naturalist” Program: Help Shape the Future Sherry Klosiewski Chief Naturalist, Wisconsin State Parks

2 What is a “Master Naturalist” program? “Master Naturalist” programs provide volunteers with: –Education –Hands-on training –Service opportunities

3 Example: “The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer program that trains adults about Minnesota’s natural resources, teaches how to educate others, and provides opportunities to do conservation projects.”

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.”

5 Generally, programs require: 40-64 hours of coursework and training –Natural history –Environmental education and interpretation –Conservation stewardship

6 30-40 hours of volunteer service –Stewardship projects –Research/monitoring –Education/interpretation

7 8 hours of continuing (“advanced”) education each year

8 16 hours of volunteer service each year

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

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

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

12 What do “Master Naturalist” volunteers do? Construct and maintain trails, boardwalks, and other facilities Remove invasives and plant native species

13 Enhance wildlife habitat Assist with research and monitoring efforts

14 Lead interpretive hikes and education programs for adults and school groups Participate in special events

15 Where do “Master Naturalist” programs currently exist? Programs are located across the country, and each has its unique mission and structure.

16 Participating states include: Texas Florida West Virginia Virginia Arkansas Oklahoma Arizona Indiana Illinois Minnesota Ohio Missouri Mississippi Michigan

17 These existing programs are partnership efforts: State resource agency State university/extension agency Other experts at the state, regional, and local levels

18 Let’s take a closer look at some “Master Naturalist” programs.

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.

20 This model uses a chapter structure, with each chapter designing its own training based on a state outline.

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

22 Minnesota Master Naturalist Program: –Big Woods, Big Rivers –Prairies and Potholes –North Woods, Great Lakes

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

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

25 Can we bring a “Master Naturalist” program to Wisconsin?

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

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

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

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

30 Mesh with existing program infrastructure Promote service opportunities at existing facilities and programs

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

32 Progress to date: Initial meeting and follow-up conversations List serve of interested folks – l-master-naturalist

33 Attendance at 2006 National Master Naturalist Conference Attendance at 2005 National Master Naturalist Planning Workshop

34 Good existing program models –Milwaukee County “Volunteer Naturalists” –Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, “Wisconsin Naturalists” –Master Gardeners, Master Woodland Stewards

35 High degree of interest and support from potential sponsors, partners, supporters

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

37 How can you help? Get involved in planning efforts Provide training Support through funding, in-kind services Share ideas Spread the word!

38 Let’s work together to bring a statewide volunteer naturalist program to Wisconsin!

39 Contact information: Sherry Klosiewski, Wisconsin State Parks –(715) 365-8966 –

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