Master naturalist program offers glimpses into nature

Topics range from ornithology and wetlands to geology, dam construction -- even sewage treatment.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 5:30 PM
Last updated 10:16 PM
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A 10-week series of lectures and field trips will be offered for outdoor-minded Au­gustans interested in becoming a Georgia master na­turalist.

Mallard ducks roost in Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, where portions of the 2013 master naturalist environmental education program will be offered.  ROB PAVEY/STAFF
ROB PAVEY/STAFF
Mallard ducks roost in Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, where portions of the 2013 master naturalist environmental education program will be offered.

“You can’t even begin to cover all the topics, but this is a great introduction to the very diverse habitat of Geor­gia, and how it’s affected by man,” said Ruth Mead, the senior education specialist for the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, which is sponsoring the series.

The program, which will be held Thurs­days from March 7 through May 16, is part of a statewide adult environmental education initiative of the University of Geor­gia’s Warnell School of Fores­try and Cooperative Exten­sion Service.

Participants will explore wetland and stream ecology at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, geology at the Nature Conservancy’s Heg­gie’s Rock Preserve, forestry at the Silver Bluff Au­du­bon Preserve and dam construction at Thurmond Lake.

Programs involving urban waterways and water cycles will be held, with venues including the Augusta Canal, the Max Hicks plant, where drinking water is treated; and the Messerly plant, where wastewater is treated, filtered and returned to the environment.

“Some of what will be shared involves the human impacts, before and after,” Mead said. “We’re also going to introduce a lot of material on wetlands and wetlands ecology, and we will be visiting some very interesting wetlands that you don’t usually get to experience.”

The program must have at least 15 participants to be successful, she said. So far, five spots are taken. The registration deadline is Feb. 28.

“We have field trip leaders coming from all over, and we need to make sure we can make it worthwhile for them,” she said.

The cost for the course is $260 for academy members and $300 for nonmembers. That covers certification dues, trip fees, supplies and a polo shirt.


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