Wisdom and memories shared by the class of 2005
Measuring the impact of a program as diverse and widespread in its scope and reach as Master Naturalists can be difficult. Extension educator and Master Naturalist program director Amy Rager asked the following questions of a few of the graduates of the very first Big Woods, Big Rivers course taught in 2005:
- What has it meant to you to be a Minnesota Master Naturalist?
- How has it changed your thinking or behavior?
- What is your favorite memory of being a Master Naturalist?
Their answers provide insight into the unquantifiable life-changing aspects of being in nature, the positive change that impacts the state of Minnesota, and the joy experienced by people doing something meaningful and long-lasting.
Deb Lewis wrote that the program gave her “multiple opportunities to connect with amazingly talented and like-minded individuals, many of whom have become my very good friends. I have a great sense of pride that I am a part of this wonderful program. It is a huge learning experience.”
Bruce Gravelle says, “I see myself slowing down more when I am outside and observing more of what is going on around me. This program has given me a place to volunteer doing something that I enjoy.”
Russ Edmonds wrote from Indiana: “Going through the class gave me more confidence in public speaking and in handling larger groups of people. I routinely take groups of 10 to 12 middle school students to sample invertebrates in a local stream as part of the Hoosier Riverwatch program.”
Even though Russ left Minnesota for Indiana six years ago, he said Master Naturalists motivated him to continue volunteering. He comes back to Minnesota on vacation and volunteers at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory: “It’s nice to see the program has continued to produce more trained volunteers.”
David Schmidt answered Amy’s request while on vacation with his wife Sara in Texas. “We wanted to visit Texas as it was one of the states you patterned our Master Naturalist program after,” he wrote.
“Becoming a Master Naturalist volunteer is what really got me going. What I’m now involved in is because of the confidence I gained taking that first class. Not only have I been a Master Naturalist volunteer for 10 years, but I hit my 10 year anniversary with the Park Service last fall as well.”
David admits, “I’m much more of a conservationist now. That’s part maturity, awareness and education—some of which came with Master Naturalist training.”
“Being a Minnesota Master Naturalist,” said Kathy Smith, “has meant making connections with the naturalist community here, both volunteer and professional.
“Being in the first class felt like the start of something really good. Amy and the staff have done a tremendous job with Minnesota Master Naturalists.”