HANNIBAL, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) works to sustain healthy forests, fish, and wildlife. But the Department relies on citizen science, private landowners, and community engagement to further these efforts which benefit all Missourians. That’s the idea behind Missouri’s Master Naturalist program.
The program for adults develops a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide outreach, education, and service dedicated to natural resources conservation within their local communities.
The Mississippi Hills Master Naturalist Chapter in Hannibal will hold a Master Naturalist training orientation 6 - 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the Burt Administration Building on the Hannibal-Lagrange University campus, 2800 Palmyra Road in Hannibal. Register for the orientation by calling 573-248-2530.
Attendance at this orientation event is required in order to take part in the Missouri Master Naturalist training, which begins May 28. Training classes will take place 5:30 - 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 28 – Aug. 27, at Hannibal-Lagrange University in Hannibal. The training will also include three Saturday field sessions.
In addition to attending the orientation session, individuals must also register for the May 28 – Aug. 27 training. Registration closes May 7, but class size is limited and early registration is encouraged. Enrollees must be at least 18-years old and pay a $95 fee.
The Missouri Master Naturalist program mixes science with service, engaging Missourians in stewardship of the state’s natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. The program is a partnership between MDC and the University of Missouri Extension.
“The intent of the Master Naturalist program is to better connect people to the environment and to nature,” said MDC Volunteer and Interpretive Programs Coordinator Syd Hime. “There are a lot of people with an interest in nature who are looking for opportunities to develop their skills as naturalists and use those skills in volunteer service. We provide that through a community-based natural resource volunteer and education program.”
Master Naturalists receive specialized training regarding nature in the region where chapters are based. Members help MDC and conservation partners through citizen science, educational programs, and stewardship projects. To become a certified Master Naturalist, participants must complete an initial training course and eight hours of advanced training. They must also contribute 40-hours of natural resource-related volunteer service through a local chapter.
For more information about the Mississippi Hills Master Naturalist training in Hannibal, contact Chapter Training Chairman Bob Kendrick at (573) 248-7361.