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Vermont Master Naturalist Program: South Hero

South Hero has a rich natural heritage with habitat ranging from floodplains to calcareous outcrops.  This island community in the middle of the Lake Champlain Basin gives rise to unique geologic and biologic features that are essential to protect. Diversity underfoot gives rise to over a dozen natural communities resulting in an abundance of rare plant species. Bobcats, coyotes, beavers, mink, deer and foxes either pass through South Hero or live here year around.

The Master Naturalist Program will create a close-knit team of naturalists with specific training in South Hero’s natural history across the earth, life and social sciences. These naturalists will be able to understand and “read” the landscapes of South Hero.  The program will connect citizens to the nature of our town through professional training and volunteer projects. South Hero will benefit over the long-term from this community of naturalists acting as a brain trust for solving ecological issues facing our natural lands and serving as expert resources for conservation education in our schools and communities.

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Who: Six to twelve South Hero area residents (16 years or older) with a sustained interest and/or background in at least one natural history discipline will be chosen through an application process. Please contact Emily or Guy if you have any questions about applying- we encourage all Island residents to apply.

How: Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, Vermont Master Naturalist candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that have created the landscapes seen in South Hero today. Candidates will spend time on each site reviewing the geology, soils, plants and animals (natural communities), human land use history, and signs of processes like wind, fire, or deer browse. We will also discuss the conservation history and management issues relevant for each site. While the focus of the training will be on the exchange of information, participants are invited to enter each of these places with an open heart, enjoying the beauty and a connection to nature that draws the group together. In addition, each Master Naturalist candidate will have an outside practice designed to deepen his or her naturalist skills of observation and description, including spending time at a sit spot, sketching, photographing, etc. The Vermont Master Naturalist Program began in Burlington in 2016 and is currently training its second team of Burlington master naturalists. Alicia Daniel, who has taught for thirty years in the University of Vermont's Field Naturalist Master of Science Program, has adapted the landscape-level training she designed for that program for use in communities. Alicia, the director of Vermont Master Naturalist, and other local experts will provide trainings for the candidates. 

When: Field trip dates (tentative) are September 22, 2018, November 3, 2018; February 9, 2019, and April 27, 2019. Candidates are required to attend all training days. Candidates also must attend at least 6 additional hours  of walks or talks on a natural history related topic during the year.

Cost and deadline to apply: Candidates will pay a one-time enrollment fee of $395. The fee will be collected after you are accepted into the program. Needs based scholarships are available after acceptance. 

Volunteer Contract:  Upon completion of the 30 hours of training, Vermont Master Naturalist candidates will design team projects to engage with schools and/or community members, totaling at least 20 volunteer hours per person. These self-designed volunteer projects will be created in collaboration with South Hero Land Trust.  Upon completion on the program, Vermont Master Naturalists will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for as long as they choose and will receive ongoing advice and support for their naturalist practices and activities in the Lake Champlain Basin.

Apply! Applications can be downloaded HERE>>.  Please mail or email your application to Guy Maguire at guy@shlt.org or PO Box 455, South Hero, VT 05486. 

Alternatively, you can submit your application electronically using an online form HERE>> (no printing required). 

Questions? Contact Guy Maguire by emailing guy@shlt.org or calling 372-3786.