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About Us

Program Organization

The South Carolina Master Naturalist program is a Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service program. Our training is offered through Host Sites located around the state. Host Sites are partnerships between the State Office of the Master Naturalist program and County Extension agents, local conservation-based organizations and representatives from SC Department of Natural Resources, SC State Parks and others. The state office provides a common manual for use throughout the state, building on the basic geological, biological, ecological and human impact concepts needed to understand the site-specific training conducted by Host Sites.

As participants graduate from the program, they often go on to form or associate with chapters who help participants find volunteer opportunities and provide ongoing educational programs for members.

Program Description

The South Carolina Master Naturalist program is developing a statewide corps of volunteers working within their communities to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas throughout the state.

History

The South Carolina Master Naturalist Program (SCMN) began in 1999 with Beaufort Extension agent, Jack Keener. Jack partnered with Chris Marsh (Lowcountry Institute Director), Bruce Lampright (Spring Island Trust) and Clemson University Extension forester Bob Franklin to shepherd students through the field intensive focus of the program. The first class was wildly successful and the three continued their partnership until 2002.

As Jack Keener retired, Chris Marsh, Bruce Lampright and Bob Franklin and others took up the banner for 8 classes, producing over 140 graduates who continue to be active keeping the Beaufort and Low Country areas healthy and beautiful. Master Naturalist graduates have achieved this through various volunteer projects including field monitoring studies at a local landfill, water quality monitoring, painted bunting research, environmental education at Brays Island, Spring Island and local schools.

Clemson University Extension and the Lowcountry Institute continue to Host the training, though previous additional sponsors have included Brays Island, Edisto Beach State Park, Nemours Wildlife Foundation, Spring Island Trust and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Graduates of the program, sponsors and the beneficiaries of volunteer service from Master Naturalists all had a part in increasing the public's awareness and enthusiasm in support of a program of this type for the entire state. Their enthusiasm led to the launch of a statewide program in Fall of 2007.

Mission

The mission of the South Carolina Master Naturalist Program is to create a corps of citizen volunteers well trained in the fundamentals of natural history, nature interpretation and the interface of humans and nature in order to empower them to contribute their time and talents to responsible, science-based environmental stewardship.

Program Goals

  • To train volunteer interpretive naturalists about the environment in which they live.

  • To provide in-depth instruction in natural history, environmental issues and interpretive techniques for volunteers.

  • To provide a valuable, personal growth experience for volunteers.

  • To provide an enjoyable experience for all involved.

  • To create a local network of individuals who work synergistically together to accomplish nature-based projects.

  • To increase the pool of volunteers available to partner organization.

Partners

The South Carolina Master Naturalist program is a Clemson Public Service Cooperative Extension activity. We bring in partners to assist in the training and coordination of the program as well as to provide volunteer opportunities for graduates. Bringing together Clemson Extension with state agencies, conservation-based organizations and local stakeholders to offer Master Naturalist training, some of our partners include: