A six-week course to teach the natural history of Minnesota’s hardwoods region will take place at Whitewater State Park beginning on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The Minnesota Master Naturalist course, a collaborative program between the University of Minnesota Extension Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4:30-7 p.m. through May 14, with two Saturday field days. Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteer training courses have been offered at Whitewater State Park since 2010.
The master naturalist course provides natural history information and offers a variety of outdoor experiences that prepare participants for volunteer service promoting and supporting the conservation of our natural resources. Similar to the master gardener program offered through the Extension Service, graduates of the master naturalist program are required to volunteer a minimum of 40 hours each year with nature-related projects within Minnesota in order to maintain their certification. Through their learning experience at Whitewater State Park, course participants are introduced to a number of conservation organizations in the region and most graduate from the class with a good idea of where they want to volunteer their time, while gaining contacts of other people passionate about nature and often forming new, sustaining friendships.
Those participating in the course at Whitewater will learn about the processes that formed the blufflands region of Minnesota and, more specifically, the driftless area untouched by recent glaciers. They will gain an understanding of the unique plant and animal communities found here and learn techniques for teaching others about nature. Participants will work in groups to complete a capstone project before graduating from the program. Course content will be taught through curriculum, PowerPoint presentations, field trips, hands-on activities and walks.
There is a $275 registration fee for the naturalist course. A limited number of scholarships are available. Registration for this course is done through the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program at www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org or by calling 888-241-4532.