Article provided by the Arkansas Master Naturalists
Cabin Fever? Here is the Cure!
Are you feeling a bit of cabin fever after a year of social distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns? The Arkansas Master Naturalists just might have the cure. This statewide, independent, all-volunteer organization promotes the preservation, restoration, and appreciation of the natural environment. Robin Harris, president-elect of the Foothills Arkansas Master Naturalists (FAMN) says the group “plans to make 2021 a big year in the great outdoors,” and you are invited to join them. The chapter is now receiving applications for new members.
As Naturalists-in-Training, new members begin with a series of courses exploring diverse topics in nature that can range from astronomy to herpetology to zoology Classes are held on Saturdays during March, April, and May. Director of Curriculum for the group, Margaret Cline, says, “because of restrictions imposed by the pandemic, for now, classroom sessions will only be offered online, however, field studies will be held in-person while adhering strictly to Covid-19 protocol.”
Some of this year’s courses include;
- Arkansas Eco-regions
- Bats and Caves of Arkansas
- Trail Construction and Maintenance
- Various wildland management topics
- Guided field studies at Cove Creek Natural Area, Grassy Lake Water Trail, and Bluffton Preserve
Once training is completed, Master Naturalists participate in hands-on projects such as;
- Habit restoration
- Stream health monitoring
- Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation
- Guided nature walks
- Citizen science programs
- Trail construction and maintenance
But it’s not all work, and there are no tests! Besides planting trees, scouting streambeds for bugs, or clearing trails, members also enjoy organized hikes, float trips, cave exploration, and other nature-related field trips.
FAMN routinely works with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Arkansas State Parks, universities, The Nature Conservancy, The Audubon Society, and others.
The state organization comprises eight regional chapters including the Foothills chapter, which draws volunteers from Faulkner, White, Cleburne, Van Buren, Conway, Pope, and Perry counties.
Training for 2021 begins March 6th and registration is limited to 30 applicants.