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Highlights of NATA 2021 annual report

NATA leadership changes

This was the 22nd year of operation for the Natural Areas Training Academy (NATA). The year was marked by several significant changes. As mentioned in a previous blog post, we said farewell to Dr. Holly Ober, director of NATA from 2008-2021, who accepted a very exciting opportunity at Oregon State University. We greatly appreciate her dedication to NATA and really miss working with her!

Dr. Holly Ober

Mentioned in the most recent blog post, Dr. Shelly Johnson, a previous NATA workshop coordinator from 2015-2017, became director in July. Dr. Johnson is also the State Specialized Agent in Natural Resources for UF/IFAS Extension. We are so excited to have her lead NATA moving forward!

person holding a bat

Dr. Shelly Johnson

End of service and onward

Meghan Lauer

Meghan Lauer, current NATA workshop coordinator (since 2017) will be leaving the position at the end of 2021 to embark on a new career. She is thankful for the opportunities afforded to her in the role. She adds, “I will look back fondly at the times spent at workshops – roasting marshmallows and conversing with participants/instructors over the campfire at Gold Head and Wekiwa Springs State Parks, wading through the wetlands at Longleaf Flatwoods Preserve, transporting participants to the live fire day at Ordway-Swisher Biological Station – and countless other occasions.”

Year in review
wildland firefighters

Participants at the S-130/S-190/L-180 field day at Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka, FL.

Certainly, there have been many changes for NATA in the past year (not to mention in addition to struggling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) but nevertheless, we have been busy! NATA offered 6 trainings (3 hybrid, 3 100% virtual) that were attended by 245 participants, who represented 48 different organizations. These included federal, state, county, city/municipal, non-profit, university, military, and private entities. This effort represents 6,413 instructor-student contact hours. We are so grateful for the 41 instructors who generously donated their time, knowledge, and expertise. Read the full 2021 annual report here.

Stay informed 

We are still in the process of planning our calendar for 2022. In the meantime, the best way to stay informed regarding upcoming NATA training opportunities is by joining the NATA listserv. Once dates have been finalized, they will be posted on the NATA website. Please send questions or suggestions you may have about the NATA program to nata@ifas.ufl.edu.