For Hometown News
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The Environmental Learning Center is offering a core module in the Florida master naturalist program.
The program is suited for those interested in pursuing answers to the real challenges to the environment and wildlife.
What kind of world do we want to leave for future generations? Where can we learn more about what we can do to help preserve the natural environment?
Those interested in answering these questions and learning more about the science and techniques of wildlife conservation will benefit from this program, an adult education program developed by the University of Florida to promote awareness, understanding and respect for Florida's natural world.
The training will benefit anyone wanting to know more about Florida's environment, as well as those wishing to increase their knowledge for use in education programs as volunteers, employees or ecotourism guides.
The ELC has offered three core modules (freshwater uplands, coastal systems and upland habitats) since the inception of the program.
Almost 200 people have completed at least one module and 75 have completed all three. These classes fill up quickly, so those interested should register soon.
Each module consists of 40 contact hours of classroom learning, field trips and practical experience. Tuition for each module is $225 and includes detailed course manuals and, upon completion, FMNP certificates, patches and pins denoting area of expertise.
Students who complete all three modules become Florida master naturalists, and will receive a plaque, pin and registration in the online master naturalist honor roll database. University credit toward a degree-seeking program is not provided.
Heather Stapleton, ELC education director and Sarah Rhodes-Ondi, ELC naturalist, teach the classes and incorporate various expert guest speakers.
Classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Field excursions are on Saturdays. The next class begins on Sept. 11, and runs through Oct. 25. All registration must be done online at www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/.
The Environmental Learning Center is located north of Vero Beach off County Road 510 at the western end of the Wabasso Bridge. Its campus includes exhibit areas, native plant gardens, picnic facilities, gift shop and visitor center.
ELC membership benefits, a list of its many field excursions, ecoventures, including nature walks, canoe excursions, and boating adventures can be found at www.DiscoverELC.org.
Admission is $5 per person, children 12 and under free and ELC members receive free admission year-round. The first Saturday of every month is free to all.
For more information about the program, call (772) 589-5050.