What's a Naturalist anyway? What about Master Naturalists?
By Pamela Wolf, Master Naturalist Graduate - October, 2014
A naturalist is a person who studies both the things and processes that occur in the environment. As a graduate, I can tell you that the Master Naturalist program is about that ... and FUN!
Just take a look...
We go out in the field and learn about what we find, like mushrooms! Spore printing is one way to identify types of mushrooms (and can be viewed as art too).
We go on fun trips, like canoeing...
on the Carmans River.
Most often we go for walks ... and sometimes find beautiful spots...
like the headwaters of the Carmans River (above) or plants in flower or fruit like the Winterberry Holly (below).
On location at the Carmans River headwaters
Some of the organisms are too small to handle, but some aren't...
Some things eluded capture, like this water strider...
We also investigate and learn about what we may find along the way.
The plant being explained is the Wooly Mullein. Do you know that this plant is thought to be an indicator for the expected snow cover in the upcoming winter?
All of this occurred in just one Freshwater Wetlands class session. As a graduate of the program, I can report that it is fun and that I learned a lot about Long Island's natural resources. I also found out about some local environmental programs that needed help and was able to contribute my time to assist them.
The Master Naturalist Program is flexible and available in different areas (called hubs). I have found the instruction so interesting that I am now going through a second series of classes at a different set of locations than I did the first time. Through the classes I am finding that there are both similarities and differences between the various rivers, parks and times of year. I'd recommend the program for anyone with an interest in learning about the outdoors.