Inspiring a Florida Conservation Ethic

Leaving a Legacy: Marty Main’s Gift to FMNP


As a child, Dr. Marty Main wanted to keep an Eastern Tiger Salamander he found on his grandfather’s Wisconsin dairy farm. His grandfather made Marty return the salamander and in doing so taught him that “all animals have value. All nature has value.” This lesson set in motion a career dedicated to conservation and lead to the creation of the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP).

Marty’s research has taken him across the globe, from studying jaguars in the Amazon rainforests to helping conserve the Aldabra giant tortoise in a remote island off the African continent. He learned that many problems in society and in the environment were tied to people’s lack of connection to nature.

In an effort to promote greater appreciation of nature and strengthen the conservation ethic of Florida, Marty structured FMNP toward adult education with the goal of building a grassroots educational movement led by concerned and informed citizens. In 2001 the first FMNP courses were offered to address this “nature-deficit disorder” and FMNP has continued creating emissaries for Florida’s natural world ever since.

Today, FMNP offers nine different courses, enlists more than 200 instructors across Florida, and hosts more than 1,500 participants each year. It is a model program that other states have adopted. One participant said “FMNP helped me see how I can change the world working from my own backyard.”

Looking forward, Marty is focused on ensuring FMNP has the resources to educate future generations of Florida conservation leaders. Working with UF/IFAS Advancement, he made a generous estate gift commitment to support an endowment which provides income to FMNP in perpetuity. As FMNP nears its 20th anniversary, Marty talks about the Master Naturalists like a proud father.

“Florida is growing by nearly 1,000 people per day, which makes FMNP even more necessary. I hope other conservation-minded individuals will join me in supporting FMNP so we can continue to grow an informed statewide network of conservation leaders,” said Marty.

You can join Marty in supporting the FMNP endowment by clicking here. For more ways to support FMNP, please contact UF/IFAS Advancement (, 352-392-1975) or Marty Main (, 352-294-2728).

FMNP Past, Present, and Future presentation:


Posted: June 4, 2020

Category: Coasts & Marine, Conservation, Forests, Invasive Species, NATURAL RESOURCES, Recreation, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Water, Wildlife
Tags: Conservation, Florida Master Naturalist Program, FMNP, Marty Main

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