The mission of the Natural Areas Training Academy (aka “NATA”) is to create a network of land managers with current knowledge and skills to conserve Florida’s resources. Natural areas managers in the Southeastern United States face unique challenges, due to the region’s unique climate, hydrology, and the prevalence of fire-maintained ecosystems. Managing our lands to protect natural resources for future generations requires an extensive breadth of expertise and applied knowledge that is typically not acquired through formal academic education.
Never heard of NATA? Let me fill you in on a brief history:
Nearly two decades ago, a group of visionary natural resource professionals recognized the value of developing a standardized training program for natural areas managers in Florida. These enterprising individuals convened a group of experienced land management professionals representing numerous agencies and organizations to summarize the expertise and skills they believed job candidates would need to be competitive for jobs, which was then packaged into a series of multi-day workshops. To meet the demand for trained personnel, the Natural Areas Training Academy was developed to deliver these workshops through a partnership of The Nature Conservancy and The University of Florida/IFAS Extension.
Anyone can enroll in NATA courses:
NATA welcomes anyone with an interest in natural areas to attend individual workshops or complete the certificate program. Each course bring together regional natural areas management experts from numerous agencies and organizations to provide training and share experiences with less experienced natural areas managers. Courses are typically 2 days in-person (plus 8 hours online) and held throughout the state. In 2016, there were 123 participants representing more than 40 organizations, including all levels of government agencies (state, federal, county, and city), private consulting firms, military, universities, non-profits and the private sector.
How do you get a Certificate in Natural Areas Management?
The Certificate in Natural Areas Management is offered by NATA to individuals who complete a series of 5 ‘core’ certificate courses covering the topics identified as most important by practitioners in the field. The series may be completed in any order, and there is no time limit to complete the series. Each certificate courses is generally held at least once per year, in addition to special interest courses (e.g. wildland fire training), found on the calendar.
Managing Visitors and Volunteers in Natural Areas will be held May 3-4 (+8 hours online) at Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights, FL
Managing for Diversity across Florida’s Unique Landscape will be held May 18th (+16 hours online) at Morningside Nature Center in Gainesville, FL