THE MASTER NATURALIST
The South Carolina Master Naturalist program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Interested South Carolinians become Master Naturalists through training and volunteer service.
A Master Naturalist is a person who has undergone specific training and who regularly volunteers time toward various projects. Typically, Master Naturalists seek to make a difference in helping to maintain the quality of our native ecosystems through training designed to help ‘read’ the landscape of the state. This includes understanding the underlying geology, specific inhabitants (birds, plants, mammals, etc.), ecology and the impacts of humans on the landscape including how we conserve our amazing natural environments. Once trained, Master Naturalists volunteer in a variety of projects. In essence, the Master Naturalist program aims to turn out volunteer citizen scientists who can positively impact the natural resources of the state.
The Master Naturalist program originated in 2000 in Beaufort County through a partnership between the Clemson Extension office and the LowCountry Institute and went state-wide in 2007. There are now 6 host sites found around the state, and each host site tailors its instruction to the local environment.
By the end of 2020, there were more than 2,300 graduates of the program statewide.
Individuals who participate in the program bring diverse skills and experiences that contribute time, energy and ideas in maintaining the native eco-systems throughout the South. After receiving training, Master Naturalists may participate in many different types of volunteer activities. These might include assisting in a nature outreach program at a park, museum, nature center or school; assisting a scientist collecting bird census data; collecting data on water quality or many others.