Model Master Naturalist Programs: A Minnesota/Florida Collaboration

The University of Minnesota and the University of Florida are collaborating on the creation of a Master Naturalist Program for adults that will serve as a model for nationnwide dissemination. This program, which builds on the existing Florida Master Naturalist Program, will provide intensive 40-hour training sessions in ecology, natural/cultural history and the environment for volunteers in Minnesota. Participants will then complete 40 hours of supervised volunteer service at local natural history centers while volunteers in both Florida and Minnesota will have the option of participating in advanced training workshops. Staff members at informal science education institutions and natural history centers take part in train-the-trainer workshops to assist with dissemination. Deliverables include three training modules (Big Woods, Big Rivers; Prairies and Potholes; North Woods, Great Lakes), advanced training workshops, local Master Naturalist Chapters, annual conferences, training materials and workshops for Master Naturalist Instructors, and a project website. It is anticipated that this project will result in the implementation of 64 Master Naturalist workshops, directly reaching 1,280 volunteers, while 750 participants are anticipated for advanced training workshops. It is estimated that 130 staff will participate as Master Naturalist Instructors. Indirect impacts will be realized as volunteers contribute more than 51,000 hours in service to nature centers and informal science institutions interacting with public audiences while conducting natural history activities. Strategic impact will be realized in the outcomes of the comprehensive evaluation plan that will assess immediate and longitudinal impacts on public and professional audiences.