Midlands Master Naturalist
The Midlands Master Naturalist course is part of a statewide Master Naturalist Program coordinated by Clemson University. The mission of the program is to create a corps of citizen volunteers well-trained in the fundamentals of natural history, nature interpretation, and the interface of humans and nature in order to empower them to contribute their time and talents to responsible, science-based environmental stewardship.
The Midlands course is hosted by the SCWF and taught by Dr. Austin Jenkins, who draws upon other experts to address certain topics. Jenkins is a naturalist who teaches biology at USC Sumter, and in partnership with others, he has graduated eight classes of Master Naturalists in the past.
Students learn identification skills, ecological concepts, and natural history of the plants, animals, and ecosystems encountered. Students will see how this knowledge can be applied to manage for wildlife and to ensure that human impacts on our Earth are sustainable. Through the established connections, participants will develop the skills necessary to become lifelong students of nature and environmental volunteers in their community.
Participants completing the course and 30 hours of approved volunteer service will receive Master Naturalist certification and will be eligible to join a local chapter and participate in advanced training courses.
When: 12 classes are held during each session - the next class will be held in Spring 2016, beginning March 18th, meeting every Friday through June 3rd. Classes generally begin at 9:00 am at varying locations (see below). Ending times may vary depending on the field trip, but generally between 1:00-3:00 pm. Classes will be held rain or shine.
Online registration is open now through the link below. Full payment is needed at the time of registration to reserve a space in the class.
Where: Classes will be held at parks and natural areas throughout the Midlands, and students will meet at the various locations. Most sites are within one hour of Columbia. Students are responsible for travel to and from field sites, although carpooling is encouraged.
Tentative Course Topics & Locations:
- Course Intro; Intro to SC Natural History
- Things with Wings: Intro to Birds and Insects
- Piedmont Geology and Associated Plant Communities - Flat Creek/Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve
- Intro to Plant Identification
- Sandhills Ecology - Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
- Bottomland Hardwood Forests - Congaree National Park
- Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Herbaceous Seepages - Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
- Reptiles & Foraging
- Carolina Bays and Blackwater Ecosystems - Savage Bay, Goodale State Park
- Fish Biology and Stream Ecology
- Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies - Landsford Canal State Park
- Graduation Ceremony/Rain Date
Who: The course is open to anyone, ages 18 and up. No pre-requisites or prior knowledge required. Participants come from all walks of life. Students will start with the basics.
PARTICIPANTS MUST BE IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE - MANY CLASSES INVOLVE LENGTHY HIKES OF SEVERAL MILES WITH MODERATE DIFFICULTY. Because you are training to be naturalists, you will traverse the wild country and should be prepared to encounter moderate heat, briars, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, etc. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS CLASS IF YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THESE CONDITIONS.
We have considerable demand for this class - please ensure that you can attend the majority of classes before registering.
Preparation: Students will need to pack a lunch and be prepared for a day in the field. Please dress for the weather and bring water, sunscreen & insect repellant. Long pants are recommended, as well as good walking shoes.
Cost: $600 per person, includes:
- South Carolina Master Naturalist Course Book
- National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America, by Arthur V. Evans
- Native Trees of the Southeast, by Kirkman, et al.
- A Guide to Wildflowers of South Carolina, by R. D. Porcher
- Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America (Peterson), by Conant & Collins
- Magnifying glass and lanyard
- Admission to all field locations
For more information on the next class, and to be placed on a notification list:
Contact: Sara Green
For information on class content, topics, expectations, etc:
Contact: Austin Jenkins