Are you interested in Florida’s amazing coastal environments and the diverse array of species that live there? Did you know there are killer whales in the Gulf of Mexico and that a new species of whale was recently discovered in the Gulf? Are you interested in learning about corals and the Florida Reef Tract that stretches approximately 350 miles along Florida’s Atlantic coast? Are you interested in manatees, sharks, seabirds, beach mice, marine invertebrates, coastal dunes, estuaries, and much more? If you enjoy learning and interacting with like-minded folks, participating in a Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) course may be something you should consider.
The FMNP recently released a revised and updated curriculum for its Coastal Systems course. Originally crafted in 2002 and revised and updated in 2013 and again in 2023, Coastal Systems provides the opportunity to learn about the ecology of Florida’s nearshore ocean environments, estuaries, and coastal uplands; the plants and animals that live there; and the conservation issues they face. And if you’ve already taken the FMNP Coastal Systems course, you might want to consider taking the revised course because it has lots of new information in an updated format.
Not familiar with the FMNP? It is an UF/IFAS environmental/conservation education program for adults that is available to public audiences. It is not a university course for enrolled students, it is an outreach program for anyone and everyone wanting to learn more about Florida’s natural world. Furthermore, FMNP courses are offered all over the state on a continuous scheduling basis with courses being taught in online, in-person, and hybrid (online lectures/in-person field trip) formats.
If this sounds intriguing, we have ten different FMNP courses from which to choose (with another soon to be released). In addition to Coastal Systems, our core courses include Freshwater Systems and Upland Systems. We also have a suite of other, shorter courses on specific topics ranging from Wildlife Monitoring to Coastal Shoreline Restoration. All courses include presentations and field experiences and are led by a statewide network of certified FMNP Instructors affiliated with many different organizations. The FMNP is more than an educational experience, it’s an opportunity to learn about, discuss, and investigate Florida environments with other adults. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to identify your own interests and passions for nature and, ideally, to share those with others.
Sound interesting? With more than 20 years of FMNP courses having been offered and approximately 20,000 FMNP graduate certificates issued, our history of success speaks to the quality of the FMNP experience. And, by becoming an FMNP graduate, you will be joining people from all over Florida who are striving to learn more, share more, and do more to promote knowledge and interest in Florida’s natural world. In the words of one FMNP graduate:
“Best thing I have ever done. I have learned so much, met so many wonderful people, and found meaningful ways to get involved.”
For more information see the FMNP website (www.MasterNaturalist.org) including:
• Descriptions of FMNP courses – LINK
• Current course offerings and where – LINK
• FMNP scholarships – LINK
• Questions? – firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us — we are confident you will be glad you did!
Dr. Martin Main, FMNP Founder and Program Leader
Ms. Caitlin Robison, FMNP Program Coordinator (email@example.com)
Statewide network of Certified FMNP Instructors – LINK