Nature has pursued me most of my life. As a young child I wanted to be an astronaut. In fifth grade, I was selected to be in a special “science club” my science teacher formed after school. We took what we were learning in the classroom to the next level (like each of us getting to dissect our own cow eyeball instead of having to share in groups of five). Being a Girl Scout member for 12 years tapped me in to Nature’s pulse like none other. Girl Scouts took me on nature hikes, scuba diving, sleeping in tree houses, living in harmony with “crunchy worms” and “jumping spiders” at camp; I learned about “reducing, reusing, and recycling” first from Girl Scouts.
Then life happened, I blinked and became a wife and mother of six, in the span of ten years. Getting out in nature was put on a far-back burner. As our oldest became school-aged, we decided to home-school. It took a couple of years, but I finally made the circle back to nature, this time with children in tow. Nature made the best elementary science curriculum you could ask for! We stocked up on Audubon field guides, had nature journals for drawing what we saw outside. We went on the local walking trails to identify trees, rocks, flowers, insects, birds, and amphibians. Fast-forward a few more years, and we began recycling paper, cardboard, and plastic jugs (and recently added tin cans and glass jars).
So, no, I am not a “tree hugger.” I am not an avid hunter. I do not have any dead insects pinned to Styrofoam. I do not know the names of many wildflowers and birds. I am a mom, working two jobs, who feels nature has a lot to offer anyone who gets to know her better. I became a Missouri Master Naturalist largely for my children. Nature is getting pushed out of our expanding towns, she is hard to hear above the electronic noise, she is being destroyed by many factors. If I don’t instill a love for nature in myself and my children, no one else will, and nature loses.
Yes, the 40 hour training was a hefty commitment, especially with two jobs and six children active in sports and extra-curricular activities. But it was definitely a commitment I would make again. The trade off has been far more than the cost. The education I received during the training class opened the door for me to become a stream team member and get my family involved in stream monitoring. I also completed hunter education with my daughter. My family has been able to go to many of the events Missouri Master Naturalists are a part of. They are getting the experiences with nature they would not have if I was not a Missouri Master Naturalist.
The next twelve week training class is just around the corner, to start the end of January 2014. If you would like to sign up to attend the information meeting, please call the Missouri Department of Conservation at 417-629-3423