Spend a moment with a Florida Master Naturalist
Derek Wiberg, a certified Florida Master Naturalist, shares his insights and experience with Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) Instructor Katherine Clements.
Derek is a Harvard-trained educator experienced in environmental science and guiding rain forest tours in Costa Rica. When he moved to Sarasota from Delaware, he first taught science in a traditional classroom. Within a few years, he decided he wanted something different. He had one of those life-changing moments, a rare opportunity to take some time for self-discovery, and he enrolled in one of our Master Naturalist classes.
What drew Derek to FMNP?
“It was an opportunity to join like-minded people,” Derek explained. “I felt a certain care and concern for the place I now lived, and wanted to become more Florida-fluent.”
In early 2018, Derek completed the three core modules in three different counties in just three months!
“By doing the program so fast and furious, it got me thinking about what I love,” he said. “It re-inspired me to think local and rekindled my passion to be an agent of change.”
Derek is as proud of his Master Naturalist certification award as he is of his Harvard diploma. Since completing the program, Derek has assisted with starting the Manatee County Friends of FMNP Chapter, attended the UF/IFAS Florida Waters Stewardship Program, volunteered at Mote Marine Aquarium, and has represented the FMNP at a variety of environmental events.
He loves working with students of all ages, reminding them that “nature isn’t digital” and seeking to bring them to that “ah-hah” moment.
In 2018, the number of Master Naturalist classes held throughout the state and the number of graduates both reached their highest levels since the program’s 2001 inception. IIt is expected that the 10,000th FMNP student will graduate in 2019.
Register for a class or learn more about the Florida Master Naturalist Program at http://www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/