Take a hike with any of the Land Trust's hike leaders and you'll see that they are a masterful crew of volunteers. Whether they are finding birds in their binoculars or talking about stream restoration, you can tell these volunteers have put in the time to learn their stuff!
The Land Trust is extremely fortunate to have such talented, dedicated volunteers. For some natural history has always been a part of their lives. For others natural history was a new avocation that was adopted with zeal. Regardless of their background, Land Trust hike leaders are always interested in learning more. That's why many of them enrolled in the Oregon Master Naturalist program.
Created by Oregon State University, the Oregon Master Naturalist program is an extension program designed to "develop a statewide corps of...volunteers who enrich their communities...through conservation education, scientific inquiry, and stewardship activities." Similar to its Master Gardener sister, the Master Naturalist program requires extensive training online and in the field. Each of the Land Trust volunteers that completed the statewide and local level training devoted nearly 100 hours to their studies!
What did they learn? All about Oregon's different regions including their waters, forests, wildlife and more. Volunteers also spent several full days in the field with local experts to dig deeper into the ecology of the East Cascades region. When asked about their favorite part, here are a few highlights:
- The Master Naturalist course, especially the statewide overview, was excellent in providing the broader context in which Central Oregon exists. I learned a great deal about the different regions in the state and loved finding places I now know I must visit. ~ Carol Wall
- I loved learning about the huge Crooked River Caldera. It's hard to believe that geologists only recently discovered it! I hope the new information I learned will help educate and inspire people about the importance of restoring and preserving sensitive places. ~ Jane Meissner
- The field courses were my favorite part, of course! Having experts like Ellen Bishop and Stephen Fitzgerald answer my questions about geology and forestry was a remarkable experience. Hiking in Central Oregon always stirs my curiosity, and It was great to have the answers immediately! ~Mary Crow
A thousand thanks to our Land Trust hike leaders for the time they devoted to becoming an Oregon Master Naturalist! We hope you'll benefit from their experience when you join them on a walk or hike this spring.