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PRESS RELEASE: (MDC) — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) works to sustain healthy forests, fish, and wildlife. But MDC 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.

MDC will offer new volunteer training classes for Missouri Master Naturalists in Camdenton, Columbia, and Rolla this spring. To join any of these classes, participants must attend a free orientation on the respective dates listed below. Following the orientation, each participant will need to register for the full training course and pay an enrollment fee which will cover costs for class materials. Participants must be at least 18-years old to register. Class sizes are limited, and early registration is encouraged.

  • Camdenton – Lake Ozarks Chapter Orientation: 6-8 p.m., Jan. 16, MDC Office, 783 Thunder Mountain Road in Camdenton Classes: 6-9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and three Saturday field sessions, Feb. 27 – May 22 To register for this orientation, call: 573-346-2210 Class Enrollment Fee: $100 Class Enrollment Deadline: Jan. 30
  • Columbia – Boone’s Lick Chapter Orientation: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Feb. 6, MU Extension Office, 1012 N. Highway UU in Columbia Classes: 6-9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and four field sessions on Saturdays, Mar. 6 – May 15 To register for this orientation, call: 573-445-9792 Class Enrollment Fee: $95 Class Enrollment Deadline: Feb. 8
  • Rolla – Meramec Hills Chapter Orientation: 6-8 p.m., Feb. 6, Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Mozarkite Room, 1251 Gale Drive in Rolla Classes: 6-9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and three field sessions on Saturdays, Mar. 6 – May 22 To register for this orientation, call: 573-578-2976 Class Enrollment Fee: $100 Class Enrollment Deadline:  Feb. 8

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 provided through 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 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 Missouri Master Naturalist program is available at extension.missouri.edu/masternaturalist/. For information about all MDC volunteer opportunities, visit mdc.mo.gov.