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Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngMore than one-thousand Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers recently accomplished restoration, enhancement and interpretation service on 1 million acres of Minnesota's natural lands. Their outstanding volunteer efforts have encompassed work like wildlife monitoring, seed collection, invasive species removal, native planting, and trail improvement. After completing an initial 40-hour training course, Master Naturalist Volunteers must record at least 40-hours of service to restore, enhance or teach about Minnesota's natural landscape each year to maintain active status. Many volunteers record much more than the minimum service, some logging hundreds of hours.

We are so proud of these strong volunteers, dedicated to sustaining Minnesota's Natural Heritage. Please join us in congratulating their milestone effort.

Visit minnesotamasternaturalist.org to learn more about the program. The Master Naturalist program is a joint program between the University of Minnesota Extension and MN Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngCongratulations to the Minnesota Master Naturalist staff and volunteers. At the 2012 National Conference in Philadelphia, PA last week, the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs named MN Master Naturalist as its Program of the Year.

Visit minnesotamasternaturalist.org to learn more about this award-winning program.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngCongratulations to Tom Wilcox, Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. He was named 'Volunteer of the Year' by St Paul Public Library for his weekly work at Collectors' Corner Neighborhood Trading Place. This is a place at the Rice Street library where youth can bring natural objects, or personal art about the object and share what they know to earn points, which can then be used to trade for other natural items.

Click to read a St Paul Public Library story about Tom Wilcox and his award-winning work at the Collectors' Corner.

Visit minnesotamasternaturalist.org to learn more about becoming a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngThe 2012 Minnesota Master Naturalist Conference was a huge success. This year's conference was held in Mankato at the Verizon Wireless center and attended by 115 volunteers and instructors. Participants attended sessions on topics ranging from "leave No Trace", to wild edibles, and odonata research. Field trips were to a local prairie and tree restoration, the city of New Ulm, and Minneopa State Park. Illuminating the conference theme - "Explore", the keynote this year was Greg Petry, kayaker who paddled around Lake Superior. In the words of one participant, "Thanks for your time, energy and effort in putting on the conference this weekend. I give it two thumbs up! The program was strong, presenters were great and the food and arrangements were high quality."

The Annual Conference is a weekend-long advanced training opportunity offered each year to Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers and Instructors. To learn more about the program, visit minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

This event is an annual advanced learning and celebration opportunity for active Master Naturalist Volunteers and Instructors. The 2012 Minnesota Master Naturalist Annual Conference will take place on May 18-20 at the Verizon Wireless Center, Mankato, MN. Session topics include dragons & damsels, edible plants, pollinators, photography, insects, reptiles & amphibians, prairie restoration and others. There will be a choice of three field trips to either tour New Ulm, Minneopa State Park, or native grasses and trees. Pre-Conference workshop sessions are optional and include Digital Photography Bridge to Nature and The Interpretive Equation. Meet other Master Naturalists, learn from outstanding presenters, eat fabulous food, and get revitalized for future volunteering!

VIsit www.minnesotamasternatrualist.org for more information about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngKeep your fingers crossed. The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a finalist for the 2012 Environmental Initiative Award in the Environmental Education category. Click to learn more about this award. The award site also details some impressive program outcomes for 2011.

  • Master Naturalist Volunteers reported 28,529 hours of service in the state of Minnesota in 2011 for a value of $596,256.00 (www.independantsector.org).
  • Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers self reported teaching 392,359 people across Minnesota in 2011.
  • Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers self reported providing stewardship projects in 2011 on 277,567 acres (both public and private) in Minnesota.

Congratulations to team members and over 1000 Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers on their nomination for this respected award. Award recipients will be announced at a special event on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngThe Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer program that trains adults about Minnesota`s natural resources, teaches how to educate others, and provides opportunities to do conservation projects. We rely on a corps of trained instructors, who deliver Mastre Naturalist courses across MN. Your organization can offer these 40-hour courses by sending a staff member to the Instructor Training course.

A few seats are left in our February 9-10 Instructor Training in Minneapolis. You must have a letter of support from your agency or organization and pay 75.00 to participate in the training. If you conduct a training of your own within one year, you will receive a refund of the 75.00. Students are asked to bring their own laptops and LCD projectors if they have one. The focus of the training is to teach you to use the materials prepared by the Master Naturalist program, not content. We ask that potential instructors have a degree or experience in a related field. Lunch and snacks are provided. If you have special dietary needs please let us know. Scholarships are available. If you have questions, please call 1-888-241-4532.

Master Naturalist Breaks 1000 Passionate Participants

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Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngMore than one-thousand passionate volunteers have now participated in the Minnesota Master Naturalist program. They have reported a total 130,810 hours of volunteer service, valued at $2,794,102 by www.independentsector.org. Master Naturalist volunteers have collected data for scientific research, restored native habitat, developed and taught natural history education programs. They are organizing and operating chapters for camaraderie, continuing education, and service. We congratulate them for exploring, teaching, and conserving Minnesota's natural resources.

Learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program at www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

Three new articles in the October 2011 issue of the Journal of Extension focus on the effective design and assessment of Extension master volunteer programs:

In Reasons for Volunteering as a Mississippi Master Gardener, authors, Wilson and Newman, summarize a survey of 400+ volunteers. Their results suggest that these participants volunteer to learn more about horticulture, and help those in need. They are less inclined to volunteer for ego-driven or career-related reasons.

In Assessment and Evaluation of the Utah Master Naturalist Program: Implications for Targeting Audiences, author, Larese-Casanova, summarizes a study of the differential outcomes of a watersheds training model for professional and amateur naturalists. His results suggest that amateur participants consistently learned more and more positively rated the course than their professional counterparts. In the words of the author: "Demographic, assessment, and evaluation data were each in their own way particularly useful in determining program success. However, by using these three data sets together, a greater understanding of the effectiveness of the program was achieved."

In Evaluating Peer Impacts of a Master Forest Owner Volunteer Program, authors, Broussard Allred, Goff, Wetzel, and Luo, describe a study of participant and peer-to-peer outcomes of participation in an Extension volunteer program. Results suggest that participants were able to better manage their wooded property, promote community stewardship, and serve as leaders. Peer outcomes included information-seeking and goal-setting behavior, and changes in management activity. Authors conclude: "The results from the surveys demonstrate that local peer-to-peer programs can positively influence woodland owners in their communities as well empower the volunteers themselves."

These studies add to the rich base of research that informs the design, delivery, and evaluation of Extension master volunteer efforts. ESE programs like the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, and Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry Through Citizen Science both draw from and contribute to this knowledge of how we can support and empower citizens for community leadership and stewardship.

Members of the Environmental Science Team extend a warm welcome to Darren Lochner, Minnesota Master Naturalist Program Coordinator. Darren has recently joined a statewide team of regional and campus-based individuals focused on the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, which is a joint endeavor of the University of Minnesota Extension and the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Darren will be working closely with a team from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Extension to develop a new program under the Minnesota Master Naturalist umbrella: Master Naturalist Explorers. This new program will pair current adult Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers with staff in existing after-school programs to offer fun, outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for 4th and 5th graders to learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyard, neighborhood, nearby natural areas, and the entire state.

Master Naturalist Explorers will address the problem that children are spending increasingly less time outside and, consequently, know less about their environment and world. It responds to the needs identified in Minnesota's 2009 Outdoor Education Legislative Report to increase outdoor learning opportunities for children and to train educators who are often uncomfortable taking youth outside for lessons. It also addresses outcomes outlined in the Minnesota Greenprint to provide increased environmental education opportunities for youth both at school and during play.

The goals of the project are 1) to create a series of outdoor, sequential, earth and life science-based lessons with targeted learning outcomes that address the new MN K-12 Science Standards, 2) to prepare adult volunteers to deliver these lessons in after-school programs for 4th and 5th graders with the aim of improving their performance on the 5th grade Science MCA exams and 3) to establish a permanent program to offer these lessons throughout Minnesota. The weekly lessons will focus on the physical changes in the seasons and their effects on plant and animal life i.e. phenology. These lessons will be divided into three units linked to The Minnesota Weatherguide, a natural history calendar.

Email Darren Lochner to learn more about Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers. Visit www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org to learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.