Na­ture course held first time at en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­ter

Record Observer - - NEWS - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

— The Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist Pro­gram has been taught for the first time at Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter with par­tic­i­pants learn­ing to in­ter­pret and iden­tify Mary­land plants and an­i­mals and how they de­pend on each other.

The pro­gram is spon­sored by the Univer­sity of Mary­land, but it was the first time the classes were held at the en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­ter in Gra­sonville. The course ended on Wed­nes­day, Dec. 21.

Each par­tic­i­pant received a badge and a cer­tifi­cate for com­plet­ing the 14-class pro­gram and they have to com­plete 40 hours of vol­un­teer ser­vice in one year to com­plete the pro­gram’s re­quire­ments, said Court­ney Leigh, vol­un­teer/stew­ard­ship co­or­di­na­tor for the en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­ter.

There were 23 peo­ple who started in the class. If they com­plete the course, the stu­dents earn the ti­tle of Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist which is a val­i­da­tion of their skills and knowl­edge of flora and fauna of Mary­land. The cer­tifi­cate is a good idea if the stu­dents want to ed­u­cate the pub­lic about the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment, Leigh said.

“The larger ob­jec­tive of the course is to foster vol­un­teerism for small or­ga­ni­za­tions of en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tors, but some peo­ple are look­ing for this ed­u­ca­tion to build their re­sume and knowl­edge for ca­reers in the en­vi­ron­men­tal field,” Leigh said.

The last day of the paid classes fea­tured a fi­nal exam, a lab prac­ti­cal, and a pre­sen­ta­tion by stu­dents about their projects.

David Coomes of Ch­ester was one of the stu­dents. He al­ready vol­un­teers at the cen­ter, help­ing with fundrais­ing, land­scap­ing, and han­dling birds of prey at places like fes­ti­vals.

“I en­joy the class. I did it to help me ex­plain things to the vis­i­tors at [the en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­ter],” Coomes said. There were some things he al­ready knew about, but he learned more in the class on how to iden­tify more things, he said.

Lacey Dean of Stevensville spoke well of the class. “I loved it, learn­ing about what I love, na­ture and wildlife. I love we get to go out­side a lot,” she said.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion, stew­ard­ship, and sus­tain­abil­ity. The cen­ter sits on a 510-acre nat­u­ral re­serve in Gra­sonville.

Those who took the Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist class are: Karen Bogue of Stevensville, Bar­bara Bush of Ch­ester­town, David Coomes of Ch­ester, Jim De­mer­est of Pasadena, John Gillespie of Ch­ester­town, Kim Gostyla of An­napo­lis, Michelle Grafton of Sev­erna Park, Emily Har­ris of Ch­ester­town, Daniel Hop­kins (Dan) of Stevensville, Christo­pher Knauss (Chris) of Golds­boro, Lacey Dean of Stevensville, Stephanie Everett of Gam­brills, Francesca Jar­rett of An­napo­lis, Kent Laing (Ken) of Cen­tre­ville, Diane Lar­ri­more of Milling­ton, Wil­liam Lauf­fer (Bill) of Ch­ester, Linda Páez of Arnold, Dolores Reyna of Gra­sonville, Windy Sawczyn of Eas­ton, Carla Slye of Gra­sonville, Jan­ice Stringer of Stevensville, and Karen Sut­ter of Bowie and Gra­sonville.

These stu­dents took part in the Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist Pro­gram held for the first time at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter.

PHO­TOS BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Lacey Dean of Stevensville loved the Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist classes she took at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter. The classes fo­cused on learn­ing about plants and an­i­mals in Mary­land.

David Coomes of Ch­ester took the Mary­land Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ist Pro­gram course to help him ex­plain things in na­ture to the pub­lic.

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