Room to Grow: Master Naturalist Program will expand horizons

July 17, 2014 

Have you ever wondered about our local water supply and delivery, recycling and waste management, or fall line geology? How can you as an adult learner get more information about these topics and more? Is there a like-minded group of people in Middle Georgia thinking about these topics?

These are some of the questions posed on our annual Master Naturalist program marketing materials.

If you have young children or grandchildren, I believe it is your responsibility to be sure they appreciate and understand the world around them. Those wonderful things found in the natural world shouldn’t instantly be feared. It is so easy to be frightened of things that we don’t understand. Consider this as an opportunity to learn and pass it on.

The Georgia Master Naturalist program was developed by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the Warnell School of Forest and Natural Resources as an adult environmental education program. It is offered as a combination of lectures and field trips to a number of Middle Georgia venues. Tailored to Macon and surrounding communities, this program explores natural resources from both an urban and traditional perspective.

A volunteer component will encourage participants to become active in our local community. While the volunteer component is not mandatory, it encourages participants to engage in activities such as tree planting, youth program development, invasive species removal and the annual Ocmulgee Alive River Clean-up.

Myriad topics, including wildlife, trees, and water resources, will be offered during this eight-week program. The program will kick off with an orientation at the Wesleyan College Arboretum on the evening of Sept. 4. Classes will begin Sept. 11 and will continue each Thursday through October. An overnight stay at Rock Eagle in Eatonton will fall near the end of September.

Since this program only lasts for eight weeks, we strongly recommended that participants not miss more than one day of class. In general, the classes will last from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. However, some days will start earlier and/or end later. It is very important that students make arrangements to get to class on time and stay through the end of the day..

Our speakers, all local experts in their fields, come from a variety of professions. We are fortunate to have professors from local colleges and universities, professional foresters, wildlife biologists as well as presenters from the private sector.

The tentative schedule is as follows:

Week 1: Basic ecology and natural history -- Ocmulgee National Monument

Week 2: Forest ecology and management -- Charlane Plantation

Week 3: Wildlife, Adopt A Stream and entomology -- Rock Eagle (Thursday-Friday)

Week 4: Game and nongame wildlife -- Taylor County

Week 5: Water and wastewater treatment plants -- Macon Water Authority facilities

Week 6: Agriculture and solid waste -- Peach and Houston counties

Week 7: Recycling -- Columbus

Week 8: Kaolin and fall line geology -- Kamin

Class size is limited. We are still determining the course fee, but it will likely be around $325 (which can be paid in two installments). This amount covers class materials, entrance fees, several meals, and overnight accommodations at Rock Eagle. The deadline to register for the class is  Aug. 15. For those of you already concerned about an overnight stay, this is far from “roughing it.” To view photos from previous programs, visit Call Bibb County Extension Office at 478-751-6338 or email for more information.

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