Ozark Outdoors

Master Naturalists in Joplin hold training classes beginning Jan. 25

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JOPLIN, Mo. – Protecting Missouri’s natural resources is an ongoing and challenging task. The challenge is made easier when private citizen groups – as well as state agencies – can provide education, outreach information and services. That’s the idea behind Missouri’s Master Naturalist Program.

Joplin High School students water a freshly planted tree.

Joplin High School students water a freshly planted tree. If you want to learn more about native trees for planting in the Ozarks, the Chert Glades Master Naturalist Chapter will hold Master Naturalist training Jan. 25 through April 18 at the Walter Woods Conservation Area in Newton County just south of Joplin.

The Chert Glades Master Naturalist Chapter will hold Master Naturalist training Jan. 25 through April 18 at the Walter Woods Conservation Area in Newton County just south of Joplin. The course doesn’t start until Jan. 25, but interested people must attend an orientation that will be held 6:30 p.m. on Jan 4 at the Walter Woods Area.

After attending this orientation, participants must register by Jan. 10 for the course. The Missouri Master Naturalist program mixes science with service. Master Naturalists engage Missourians in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. The Master Naturalist program is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the University of Missouri Extension.

“The intent of the Master Naturalist Program is to better connect people to the environment and nature,” said MDC Volunteer and Interpretive Program Coordinator Syd Hime. “There are a lot of people with an interest in nature who are looking for opportunities to develop their skills as a naturalist and use those skills in volunteer service. We provide that through a community-based natural resource volunteer and education program.”

To become a Master Naturalist, individuals must receive training and contribute volunteer services. Once individuals receive Master Naturalist certification, they will be required to give 40 hours of service and complete eight hours of additional advanced annually training to maintain their certification. Individuals must be age 18 or older to participate.

For more information, call MDC Conservation Education Consultant Jeff Cantrell at 417-629-3423 or e-mail jeff.cantrell@mdc.mo.gov Details about the Master Naturalist Program can also be found at www.chertglades.org or http://extension.missouri.edu/masternaturalist.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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