“Advancing conservation, building community, and connecting people to the wild heart of place.”
Do you love nature? Do you care about protecting what’s special about Vermont? Are you curious? Do you like being part of a community of learners? If your answers are “Yes!” you now have a chance to become a Vermont Master Naturalist.
The Vermont Master Naturalist Program (VMN) began in Burlington in 2016 and has since expanded into 18 towns in Vermont. VMN is led by Alicia Daniel who, after 30 years of teaching in the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Master of Science Program, adapted the landscape-level approach to understanding ecosystems developed at UVM to help Vermont residents gain new insights into of the nature around them and encourage use of their learning in conservation efforts in their communities.
Vermont is rich with cultural heritage and natural habitat ranging from montane forests to dry oak hilltops & floodplain forests. Vermont Master Naturalist “classrooms” are special locations with stories to tell, like wildlife corridors, woodlands of wildflowers, stone walls and cellar holes, and the ever-meandering banks of our rivers.
During a series of 5 day-long field trips, fifteen participants spend time in interesting sites across their region reviewing layers of the landscape, like geology, soils, hydrology, plants and animals (natural communities), as well as signs of processes like human land use history, river geomorphology, wind, or fire that have shaped their home. VMN faculty will help participants learn to “read” these layers and tell stories of its natural and cultural history.
To practice their new skills and as a way of giving back to the community, teams of participants will work on local conservation education and stewardship projects. Developing and sharing ecological literacy isn’t just exciting and fun–it’s also an important community resource. A community of naturalists can help solve ecological issues facing our wild lands and serve as resources for conservation education in schools and communities.
“As a graduate of UVM’s Field Naturalist Master of Science program, I’m thrilled Friends of the Mad River can help bring this unique and fun way of thinking about a landscape to the Mad River community,” said Corrie Miller, Executive Director of Friends of the Mad River. “I’m looking forward to learning along with my neighbors and celebrating the stories our watershed tells.”
“The Vermont Master Naturalist Program builds community and connects Vermonters to their place through professional training & local volunteer projects,” said Alicia Daniel. “And, we hope it serves to engage more people in planning and conservation of their special wild places.”
Cost and deadline to apply: The fee for the year-long training is $495, collected after a candidate is accepted into the program. VMN candidates may qualify for a grant from VSAC through their non-degree grant program to assist with program costs.
For more information and application information, email Alicia Daniel at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Banner photo by Monica Erhart