By Robin Harris
What is a Master Naturalist anyway?” Well, the answer may depend on which one you talk to.
They’re all volunteers, but their interests range widely. Some really enjoy cleaning up area hiking trails, while others have fun looking for tiny critters in local creeks. Some like identifying and mapping native plants and wildlife in state parks. Others derive satisfaction from coaxing wildflowers to bloom in a meadow or cultivating native and other plants useful to early Ozark inhabitants.
However, they all love learning more about nature, while doing what they can to keep the natural state natural. And every fall they start hunting for more like-minded individuals.
The Foothills Chapter of the Arkansas Master Naturalists (FAMN) recently opened applications for a new class of volunteers for 2019, according to chapter president Larry Fliss.
The course for “Naturalists in Training” begins January 26 and concludes with graduation May 6. The application form and class schedule are available on this web page: http://wordpress.arkansasmasternaturalists.org/how-do-i-join/. (Scroll down to “FAMN.”)
FAMN members also organize purely recreational activities, such as hiking trips on area nature trails and float trips, he added.
Ongoing projects include monthly stream water monitoring. Stream team members evaluate local creeks by testing water chemistry and collecting and counting bugs and other critters in five different creeks and rivers.
Another team has been identifying and mapping GPS locations of wild plants and animals. Their observations have been gathered in a database that nature lovers can search on the Internet.
“We host a variety of volunteer opportunities,” Fliss says, “and many of our members work on more than one team.”
New members’ classes begin January 21. Of the 80 hours offered, only 40 hours are required to become a certified Master Naturalist. The class is limited to 30 applicants, so Fliss urges interested persons to apply soon.
For more information, prospective volunteers may contact Larry Fliss at email@example.com or 501-339-7477