So, what is the Florida Master Naturalist Program?

The Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) is an adult education program developed by the University of Florida and provided by many UF/IFAS Extension Agents and participating organizations throughout the State of Florida. FMNP training will benefit persons interested in learning more about Florida’s environment or wishing to increase their knowledge for use in education programs as volunteers, employees, ecotourism guides, and others.

The Coastal Shoreline Restoration course focuses on living shoreline restoration and is intended to improve participants’ understanding of the science and application of living shorelines. It includes foundational training on the ecology, benefits, methods, and monitoring techniques for restoring oyster reefs, mangroves, and salt marsh. Graduates of this course will be better prepared to promote and assist with restoration projects.

This summer, UF/IFAS-FL Sea Grant Extension Agents, Scott Jackson of Bay County, Erik Lovestrand of Franklin County and Ray Bodrey of Gulf County hosted a course on Coastal Shoreline Restoration. Session 2 of the 3-session course was offered in Gulf County at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. This course focused on mangroves. This two-day event was filled with knowledge of marine ecology and restoration principles regarding the bay shoreline.

Topics discussed during the Gulf County session by the Extension Agents were mangrove ecology and their use as a potential shoreline restoration technique, along with a regional mangrove research update. Other presentations of the course included the importance of sea grass in the bay, and an update and overview of the FWC scallop sitter restoration project. The group also took a field excursion to see black mangroves in the area. Guest speaker, Coastal Engineer Joe Morrow of MRD Associates, Inc., discussed coastal processes affecting St. Joseph Peninsula, beach re-nourishment and protective structures. He also provided a field trip to the Peninsula, in which an aerial drone survey was conducted, enabling participants of the course to view drone footage in real-time via a separate monitor, highlighting the changes to the shoreline in recent years. The course wrapped up the following morning with a kayak trip to Pig Island. There, the participants were guided through an area of red mangroves, as well as embarking on a snorkeling adventure.

Interested in signing up for a Master Naturalist course?

Core module courses are offered in Coastal Systems, Freshwater Systems and Upland Systems. Special topic modules are offered in Conservation Science, Environmental Interpretation, Habitat Evaluation, Wildlife Monitoring and Coastal Shoreline Restoration. To view a current schedule of courses, please visit: http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/fmnp/

Want to know more about the Florida Master Naturalist Program? Please Visit: http://www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/ or contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200 for more details.

 

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.