IF YOU LOVE to feed, photograph, or just observe wildlife, this computer-based e-learning course is for you. You can do it at your own pace, place and time. And, you will acquire a better appreciation of nature, plus discover how you can provide a “helping hand” in your wildlife habitat.
The “Wildlife Habitat Naturalist” course was created by WindStar Wildlife Institute, a national, non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to help individuals and families improve the wildlife habitat on their properties.
After introducing WindStar’s highly acclaimed Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist certification pilot program in Maryland in the Spring of 1997, the Institute began receiving numerous inquiries from people all across the country who wanted to know when the Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist Program was coming to their state.
To satisfy the need in the interim, the staff came up with the idea of an Internet home study course called the “Wildlife Habitat Naturalist”, which is a prerequisite to the new “Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist” Program that will be available in December 2006.
Involved in the creation of the Course were:
- Thomas D. Patrick, President, WindStar Wildlife Institute
- Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, Extension Wildlife Specialist & Associate Professor of Forestry, University of Kentucky
- Jonathan Kays, Principal Agent & Regional Extension Specialist, Natural Resources, University of Maryland
- Edith Thompson, Wild Acres Coordinator, MD Dept. of Natural Resources
- Dr. Kinsey Green, Dean, Education and Home Economics, OR State University
- Donald Rohrback, Western Region Land Mgr., MD Dept.of Natural Resources
- Dr. Richard Wilson, Education Consultant, Maryland Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalists
Who Should Take This Course?
The Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist course is written to the level of the average consumer. There are no
prerequisites, other than an interest in wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the desire to learn more.
Here’s who we believe might be interested in the course:
Gardeners, including Master Gardeners
Educators, especially science teachers High school students
Birders of all ages and skill levels
Residential property owners
Rural property owners
Nature Center staff
Farmers and ranchers
People who love to feed, photograph, or watch birds
Natural resource professionals
4-H and Scout leaders
High School students
Wild Bird store owners and employees
What Are The Course Objectives?
WindStar’s Wildlife Habitat Naturalist Internet e-Learning Course will help you learn how to better manage wildlife
on your property, plus develop a sense of stewardship toward wildlife and a land conservation ethic. Taking
this course will allow you to:
- Learn the benefits of landscaping for wildlife–for you, your family,and your community.
- Learn how to identify and attract common backyard wildlife species.
- Learn why native plants are often the best choice when landscaping for wildlife.
- Learn backyard wildlife histories, habitat, and food requirements, and how to better understand wildlife behavior.
- Learn how to deal with wildlife problems, plus invasive and exotic plant species
- Learn how to create a wildlife habitat enhancement plan for your property.
- Learn how to reach out to others in your community with information on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
How Does It Work?
- Units consist of an online video presentation, reading assignments, and wildlife habitat plan assignments.
- WindStar urges participants to communicate with others taking the course and WindStar staff by posting comments and questions on the course bulletin board.
- After completing Units 1-7and 8-14 participants will take tests.
- After completing all units, participants will have finished a wildlife habitat enhancement plan for their property (or other approved site) – which they will mail to WindStar Wildlife Institute for final evaluation.
What Participants Will Receive
- A three-ring notebook with dividers to organize course materials
- Comprehensive resource materials with graphics, photos, and illustrations
- Regional lists of recommended plants for wildlife
- Access to Institute staff via phone or e-mail
- Graduation certificate signed by WindStar Wildlife Institute President
- One-year membership to WindStar Wildlife Institute with numerous member benefits
- Business cards identifying participant as a Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist upon successful completion of the course
- A wildlife habitat enhancement plan for their residential property (or other approved site) which they will develop during the course.
- State Bird Checklist
- Glossary of Terms
- Suggested Readings
- Nesting Box and Feeder Plans
About the Topics & Instructors…
Register by calling 301-788-3422
IF YOU LOVE to feed, photograph or observe wildlife and want to know more about them, you can do so with the new, advanced WindStar Wildlife Institute homestudy course.
Upon completion, you will become a Certified WindStar National Master Naturalist.
“The overall mission of the program is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources, including wildlife and wildlife habitat, on their properties and within their communities,” says Tom Patrick, President.
“We want students to inventory the elements and components of their wildlife habitat, learn more about forest and wildlife management, decide what to add and create a plan for making it happen,” says Patrick. “They can then replicate this effort for others such as friends, relatives and neighbors.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 71 million people 16 years old and older—31 percent of all Americans—fed, photographed and observed wildlife in 2001 and spent $40 billion on these activities. Nearly 95 percent—63 million—enjoyed their activity around their homes.
Millions of people now live in urban and urbanized areas. Many of these residents and landowners are two to three generations removed from direct land management (farming, ranching or forestry) and they rarely seek traditional forms of outreach and extension prior to making their land management decisions.
This training can benefit everyone–from professionals wanting to increase the scope of their knowledge, to individuals in the general public who have an interest in conserving our natural resources.
“This course can help people develop their personal and professional environmental skills in order to creatively tackle natural resource challenges,” says Patrick. “And, they can do it at their own pace and times.”
The course is divided into two parts—The Woods In Your Backyard and The Wildlife In Your Backyard. Two of the DVD videos used in the course—How Birds Eat and Insect Defense—were created by Dr. Ron Goor, creator of the Smithsonian’s Insect Zoo, the first live insect zoo in the U.S.
Special sections are devoted to: Plants, Ornithology, Entomology, Herpetology, Mammalogy and Teaching Others About Nature. Individuals will learn how to manage your land, map it, and assess why you bought the land and what you hope to get out of it.
Plus, subjects like tree identification, forest and wildlife management, water resources, best plants for wildlife, creating wildflower meadows, lists of native plant nurseries and contractors, recreation, aesthetic appeal and ways to improve each will be covered. Cost is $265.
This is the second e-learning program offered by WindStar. The first certifies individuals as “Wildlife Habitat Naturalists.”
Wildlife recreation is not a fad that came and went, but instead calls to people no matter what else is going on in their lives. Whether noticing the v-shaped flock of geese flying south, the splash of a well-cast lure in a mountain lake, or the early morning pleasures of a deer stand, enjoying wildlife still has an important place in modern life.
There are local natural resource and conservation organizations–with education, outreach and service missions–who depend upon well-trained adult volunteers to conduct youth education programs; for operating parks, nature centers, and natural areas; and for providing leadership for local natural resource conservation efforts.
But, these agencies are clearly overwhelmed by broadening and complex natural resource challenges that require an understanding of complex ecological dynamics at a local level.
You can help fulfill these needs.
Taking care of our environment is everyone’s business. Conservation and Stewardship are not spectator sports. This country needs an involved and educated citizenry, willing to demonstrate their commitment to conserving and managing our natural resources. Individuals–as in National Master Naturalist volunteers–are essential to the conservation and management of a better nation.
We need more volunteers like you bringing together your diverse set of personal and professional skills in order to creatively tackle our natural resource challenges. This cannot be done alone.
Through outreach, education, interpretation, and recreation you can help lead us to a better understanding of the responsibilities of stewardship, resource management, and conservation.
This program is a natural resource-based, national, volunteer training and development program sponsored by WindStar Wildlife Institute and The Communicators, Inc., a professional certification consultancy, along with the assistance of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Penn State Cooperative Extension.
In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources participated in the creation of the National Master Naturalist Pilot Program. The sponsors and cooperators have come together in partnership to make this educational volunteer program available to you.
The overall Mission of the program is:
“To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources, including wildlife and wildlife habitat, within their communities.”
Our program goals and objectives are to:
- Improve public understanding of natural resource ecology and management by developing a body of knowledge that can be used to enhance land management and education efforts within local communities;
- Enhance existing natural resources education and outreach activities by providing natural resources training, thereby developing a supply of dedicated and informed volunteers; and
- Develop a self-sufficient national WindStar volunteer network in every state.
The program is guided by a National Advisory Committee made up of Certified WindStar National Master Naturalists, forest and wildlife management and education representatives from universities, state and federal natural resource agencies, and certification consultants. The advisory committee sets the program standards, policies and procedures, and curriculum requirements.
Throughout the course, we’ll follow the case study of one family as they go through the course. Many color photographs are used to illustrate. You will be provided with a Activities and Test booklet that, upon completion, will be submitted for your grade.
WindStar created a pilot Certified Master Naturalist Program (CMN) in 1998. The program was created specifically to provide top-notch naturalist training and professional resources to capable leaders who are committed to acting as volunteer Master Naturalists through participation in outreach efforts to assist property owners, renters, and caretakers with the enhancement of their wildlife habitats.
The pilot program focused on Maryland. In the year following the program, through the outreach efforts of its 28 volunteers, the Program directly educated 18,863 individuals and families on improving their wildlife habitats. In addition, articles were published about the Program and the “Master Naturalists” in newspapers and newsletters with a combined circulation of more than 2,216,000!
WindStar’s programs address community issues as an educational priority. The programs’ participants educate the public about the threat to wildlife habitat and natural ecosystems and what to do about it.
In addition to increasing awareness and knowledge about the threat to wildlife habitat and natural ecosystems caused by residential and commercial development, WindStar’s programs provide participants with the skills necessary to enhance wildlife habitats on their own properties and to assist others in enhancing wildlife habitats on their properties. The programs are computer-aided, home study certification courses.
WindStar expects to reach men and women of all ages interested in wildlife, wildlife habitat and natural landscaping. WindStar has extensive information on its website and expects to attract participants who are directed to the web site by their own research, web search engines, advertising in nature magazines and by word of mouth.
What is a Naturalist?
Naturalists are students of natural science or natural history. For most, becoming a naturalist can be a life-long goal. Learning never stops, as the natural world presents an infinite number of things to investigate. Yet, many would agree that natural history is an almost obsolete term for the study of things in nature–plants, animals, minerals.
In fact, the word “naturalist” brings to mind such historic figures as John Muir, John Burroughs and Aldo Leopold. So, are naturalists outdated, old-fashioned types of investigators, students, and teachers?
Although natural history may have begun as a somewhat unsystematic approach to investigating the environment and its inhabitants, modern naturalists are scientists in the truest sense.
They interact with the environment through careful observation, study, and analysis. Before the current trend towards specialization in which scientists tend to know more and more about less and less, professional scientists were naturalists in a broad sense.
In the past and today, naturalists are characterized by knowing something about the whole of nature. They are generalists. Although usually trained in one discipline, they delve into a variety of subjects including botany, entomology, ornithology, mammalogy, herpetology, and geology.
Naturalists emphasize field investigations as opposed to laboratory work. A naturalist can be defined as someone who possesses extensive knowledge of the natural world. More importantly, modern naturalists understand that in nature rarely anything stands alone.
The interconnectedness of all living things to each other and to their environment is the essence of the study of natural history. Therefore, naturalists also become ecologists, ethologists, and environmentalists. They are people who understand that the natural world is not separate from human existence–we are surrounded by nature and we act upon it.
But naturalists aren’t just trained scientists. They are people with a real appreciation and respect for nature. They are people equipped with the tools necessary to be a naturalist and not just a quirky hat and binoculars. A desire to ask questions and seek answers, resources for naming and identifying things, a concern for the environment, and an awareness of the threats to nature are a few of the naturalist’s tools.
Register by calling 301-788-3422
What is a WindStar National Master Naturalist?
The term as used in this program, describes the scope of your training and areas of your knowledge. The natural world comprises a variety of complicated, interrelated subjects and many questions still remain unanswered.
None of us have or can truly master all of the disciplines pertaining to the natural world. But, we can master the skills of those that came before us, including careful observation, asking questions, and evaluation. So wear the title as a representation of this program, but understand that becoming a true WindStar National Master Naturalist is a goal that can only be approached, never attained.
Naturalists work to gain the wisdom of those who came before them, to build on that knowledge, and teach those who will come after them. You are volunteers with the interest and desire to give back to your community and willingness to be trained and to train others.
During your first year of involvement in the WindStar National Master Naturalist program, you are expected to complete the course and begin your outreach efforts. The training program provides you with a broad-based curriculum that covers a wide variety of topics from forest and wildlife management, to conservation, communication and leadership skills.
Because the U.S. has such diversity in climate, population and land types, the natural resources (and their uses) in each area of the nation are unique. Therefore, you will customize your activities and plans by selecting appropriate native trees and plants from your own state and region provided for you in the Resource CD.
Roles, Responsibilities, and Benefits
You will come away from the course with an accurate baseline understanding of what is meant by some of the ecological concepts and ideas that need to be understood in order to manage natural resources. These include the functional definitions of ecosystems, landscapes, communities, species diversity, populations and biodiversity. Your training will also expose you to the dynamics of natural systems–including succession; natural and human disturbances; recovery and restoration.
Management of Natural Systems
You will be exposed to the management of natural systems, including forest, wetland, urban and aquatic ecology. Because not all parts of the nation have land types suitable for these managed systems, training will focus on those managed systems that are a dominant feature in the country.
Interpretation and Communications
As a WindStar National Master Naturalist you may, hopefully, often represent your efforts to the public. Through your training you will be given an opportunity to develop presentation skills and learning techniques.
WindStar Wildlife Institute will function as a source of resources and materials for your use. The availability and effective use of these resources will be reviewed as part of the initial training.
Don’t let the program name and title “National Master Naturalist” fool you or scare you. Through your initial training you will learn a little about a lot. Many say that after their training they really begin to realize just how little they actually know. In return for the training and in order to attain and/or maintain certification, National Master Naturalists are encouraged to provide service back to the community.
This service can be a short, one-time project, such as participating as a speaker providing valuable information to neighbors and communities, or the service can be a long-term project, such as overseeing a park or prairie restoration.
The nature and structure of the National Master Naturalist program is such that volunteer hours can be donated to many different projects involving natural resource agencies, schools, local governments, private landowners, parks and nature centers to name a few. Many projects and volunteer opportunities already exist and are in need of people. Although opportunities already exist, please don’t allow this to stifle your creativity. There are many new and exciting ideas for projects still out there to be discovered.
Some current and typical service projects include:
- Development and maintenance of natural landscaping and demonstration areas at parks, nature centers and municipal areas
- Construction and maintenance of interpretive nature trails
- Stream bank, marsh, prairie, and rangeland restorations
- Brush and exotic plant and wildlife control
- Fish, wildlife, and plant inventories and surveys
- Native plant seed collections and rescues
- Outreach and education programs
- Instructors or mentors for natural resource youth camps
- Docents for nature centers and natural areas
- Interpretive tour leaders
- Write articles for local media
What Are The Benefits of Being a National Master Naturalist?
National Master Naturalist volunteers receive many benefits from being involved in the program. Some of the most rewarding, as indicated by our volunteers, include:
- Helping to make a difference for your area’s natural resources, both now and in the future.
- Having the opportunity to learn from experts in the field through National Master Naturalist training.
- Having the opportunity to provide important and valuable natural resource information to others.
- Gaining an appreciation for and understanding of natural environments and their management.
- Having the opportunity to build new friendships and working relationships with people sharing the same interests.
What Are The Responsibilities of a National Master Naturalist?
Upon beginning your natural resource training you have one year to complete your volunteer service to become Certified as a WindStar National Master Naturalist. The title “National Master Naturalist” shall only be used by individuals active in the WindStar National Master Naturalist program.
When an individual no longer actively participates in the program their designation as a National Master Naturalist and/or Certified National Master Naturalist becomes void.
Remember, as a Certified WindStar National Master Naturalist, you are a representative of WindStar Wildlife Institute. With that in mind, volunteers should consult with and follow the recommended management practices of the WindStar Wildlife Institute and your state’s forest and wildlife management agencies.
Attaining and maintaining National Master Naturalist Certification is your responsibility. An important part of that responsibility is record keeping. Documenting your observations, research, training, service and advanced training hours, and the number of people or amount of the resource you were able to reach or affect can help you document and maintain your certification as well as track your success and growth as a WindStar National Master Naturalist.
You may use the Outreach Forms included in the Teaching Others About Nature section of The Wildlife In Your Backyard for reporting your activities as they occur. Or, e-mail WindStar with the information.
Do you want to make a difference and help Mother Nature at the same time?
If you do:
Register by calling 301-788-3422