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Volusia County Florida Master Naturalist Program – Freshwater Wetlands

According to the the Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Florida’s population grew by 1.77% between 2018 and 2019, adding 368,021 residents. Over the next five years, Florida’s population growth is expected to persistently slow to 1.3%, but will still average 1.5% per year for the entire period (2019 through 2024). The nationally average annual growth is forecasted to be about 0.66% between 2019 and 2030. With this continued rate of growth it is vital to educate people about Florida’s natural resources in order to better protect these resources in the future.

Volusia County is a natural wonderland and is home to a vast array of biodiversity and aesthetically pleasing habitats. With over 47 miles of beaches, plus rivers, lagoons, and freshwater springs, the county is often thought of as a water paradise. Inland, Volusia County has conservation lands which are part of a statewide effort to provide a wildlife corridor and natural habitat where bear, deer and other wildlife live and thrive in the wild. In order to help educate both current and new residents of the state the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Volusia County office offers the Florida Master Naturalist Program.

The Florida Master Naturalist Program

The mission of the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) is to promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Florida’s natural world among Florida’s citizens and visitors. This adult educational program was developed by the University of Florida and benefits individuals interested in learning more about Florida’s environment or wishing to increase their knowledge for use in education programs. Graduates of the program often serve as local volunteers, employees, ecotourism guides, and in other educational roles. The FMNP consists of three core modules: Freshwater Wetlands, Coastal Systems, and Upland Habitats.

In October 2020, the FMNP Freshwater Wetlands course was offered by the Volusia County Extension office as a hybrid course. Through 40 hours of classroom (virtual), field trip (in-person), and practical experience, this course provided instruction on the general ecology, habitats, vegetation types, wildlife, and conservation issues of Freshwater Systems in Florida – Marshes, Swamps, and Permanent Wetlands (Lakes, Rivers, Springs, and Streams). The program also addressed society’s role in wetlands, develops naturalist interpretation skills, and discusses environmental ethics. Field trips included Blue Springs State Park, Hontoon Island State Park, and Long Leaf Pine Preserve.

If you are interested in joining our next FMNP course please visit this link or contact the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Kalan Taylor at (386) 822-5778 or kagers02@ufl.edu.

To view pictures from our courses please visit the Volusia County Facebook page @VCExtension.

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