Midlands Master Naturalist Course

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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 experts in the fields of natural history, botany, biology, forestry, and geology.  

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 will receive South Carolina Master Naturalist certification and will be eligible to join a local chapter and participate in advanced training courses. Master Naturalist graduates are encouraged to log 30 hours of volunteer service for each subsequent year to maintain their certification.


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 Syllabus (topics and locations may vary each year):

  • Class Intro, Intro to SC Natural History – Camp Discovery, Blythewood

  • Things with Wings: Intro to Birds & Insects - Camp Discovery, Blythewood

  • Piedmont Geology and Associated Plant Communities - Flat Creek HP/Forty Acre Rock

  • Sandhills Geology & Ecology - Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve, Lexington

  • Intro to Plant Identification & Foraging - Goodale State Park, Camden

  • Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Herbaceous Seepages - Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

  • Hardwood Bottomland Forests and "Big Old" Trees - Congaree National Park

  • Birds on the Bluff - Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve

  • Fish Biology & Stream Ecology - Location TBA

  • Forestry & Wildlife Habitat Management - Manchester State Forest

  • Brown Water Ecosystems, Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies - Landsford Canal State Park

  • Graduation Ceremony/Rain Date - Sesquicentennial State Park

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When:  12 classes are held during each session - the next session will be held in Spring 2020, beginning March 15th, meeting every Friday through May 31st.  At this time, only one session is held each year, in the spring.   

Classes generally begin at 9:00 am at varying locations listed above. Ending times may vary depending on the field trip, but generally between 1:00-3:00 pm. Classes will be held rain or shine.

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 repellent.  Long pants are recommended, as well as good walking shoes.  

Registration: The registration for the Spring Midlands Master Naturalist class will begin on November 1 each year. Complete the inquiry for below to receive emailed announcements about registration.

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

Questions/Contact information:
Contact: SCWF Executive Director, Sara Green
Through EMAIL by clicking HERE , or by phone: (803) 609-4778


Sign up here for updates about future Midlands Master Naturalist classes:

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