UK Happenings

New UK Program Offers Opportunities to Learn About State’s Natural Resources

two students studying plants
Kentucky residents with a passion to discover more about their natural world now have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of it thanks to the Kentucky Master Naturalist program. Photo by Carol Lea Spence.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 25, 2021) — Kentucky residents with a passion to discover more about their natural world now have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of it thanks to the Kentucky Master Naturalist program. Registration is open for a fall Zoom series with classes on everything from the state’s archaeology to its wildlife. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension-led program will include 15 classes aimed at making its participants stewards of the state’s natural resources.  

Classes begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sept. 3 and occur at the same time each Friday through Dec. 17. The new program consists of 40 hours of online-based learning, fieldwork and volunteer hours with continuing education available. The format is similar to the Kentucky Extension Master Gardener Program. The Kentucky Master Naturalist program aims to develop a cohort of educated volunteers to advance education, research and outreach efforts related to the conservation and management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. 

“I think it's a great opportunity for anybody who's interested in different topics like archaeology, geology, soil, entomology, weather, climate, water resources and botany,” said Ellen Crocker, assistant professor of forest health extension in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “It's a great opportunity for anybody who's interested in those kinds of things, to not only learn more, but to meet other people who they can continue to learn from and share their passion.” 

The 1.5 hour live sessions will be recorded to give the students the option to watch at their convenience. Each class will consist of an hour-long teaching segment followed by a half hour of question and answers. 

“Our goal is for these master naturalists to work with natural areas and different groups in their local areas,” Crocker said. “We believe that will really have a positive impact on communities and nature. I’m really excited to be part of starting this program in Kentucky.” 

To learn more about the Kentucky Master Naturalist Program, visit https://naturalist.ca.uky.edu/ or email Forestry.Extension@uky.edu.  

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.