Humanity for Habitat

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2007

Last revision: Nov. 30, 2010

is focused on local ecosystems.

Field sessions are an important part of the training. Instead of a lecture about the Missouri River in a classroom, participants take to the river in boats. Class members learn forest ecosystem concepts by comparing the size and age of trees on a north slope with those on a south slope, and they learn about plant diversity in a prairie by counting the number of different species in a plot.

Courses take 9-12 weeks to complete. Sessions typically are held once during the week, usually in the afternoon or evening. There are also several Saturday field sessions. It’s a time-intensive experience.

“The initial training can be demanding on people with busy schedules,” said Wrandi Thomas, a Master Naturalist who lives in Webb City, “but rewarding throughout the process.”

John Vandover of the St. Charles Confluence Chapter said he became interested in the program because he believes in the importance of volunteer service.

“I’ve always been an avid hunter, fisherman and great lover of the outdoors,” he said. “Preserving, protecting and restoring our natural resources have always been very important to me. We are ordinary people who are committed through volunteer service. And, we need to develop a large, very active cadre of citizen naturalists who can make an impact across our state.”

Master Naturalist service projects run the gamut from collecting, cleaning and planting seeds in a prairie restoration area to conducting toad and frog surveys, from planting rain gardens to developing and presenting programs.

Master Naturalist Eleanor Mitter of Columbia, an early-childhood educator, developed the Nature Detectives program for preschoolers and their parents. She offers the program during the summer at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park through the Friends of Rock Bridge.

The Confluence Chapter created a rain garden at the Lewis & Clark Boathouse in St. Charles. The garden, located in a former construction dump site, features plants Lewis and Clark might have seen in Missouri on their expedition. The Chapter is working with a local education consultant from the Conservation Department to develop information on the garden that will be incorporated into the many school programs conducted at the Boathouse.

Members of the Boone’s Lick Chapter worked with the Friends of Big Muddy to complete a butterfly and moth survey at the Overton Bottoms unit of the Big Muddy Fish & Wildlife Refuge. Among the finds was a regal fritillary, a species of conservation concern not documented from that part of

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