The Master Naturalist BTV Program

The Master Naturalist BTV Program creates a close-knit team of naturalists with specific training in Burlington’s natural history across the earth, life and social sciences, who understand and can “read” the landscapes of Burlington’s conservation lands.  Burlington has a rich natural heritage with habitat ranging from floodplains and sandplains to calcareous outcrops.  Diversity underfoot gives rise to over a dozen natural communities resulting in an abundance of rare plant species.  Moose, bears, bobcats, coyotes, beavers, deer and foxes either pass through the City or live here year around.  In the spring of 2016, birders recorded 135 species of birds in Burlington. The Master Naturalist BTV Program connects Burlington citizens to the nature of their city through professional training and volunteer projects.  The City of Burlington benefits long term from a community of naturalists acting as a brain trust for solving ecological issues facing our wild lands and serving as expert resources for conservation education in our schools and communities.

Who:  Six to ten Burlington residents with a sustained interest and background in at least one natural history discipline will be chosen through an application process.

How:  Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, MNBTV candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that have created the landscapes seen in Burlington today. Candidates will spend time on each site reviewing the geology, soils, plants and animals (natural communities), human land use history, and signs of processes like wind, fire, or deer browse.  We will also discuss the conservation history and management issues relevant for each site. While the focus of the training will be on the exchange of information, participants are invited to enter each of these places with an open heart, enjoying the beauty and a connection to nature that draws the group together.  In addition, each Master Naturalist candidate will have an outside practice designed to deepen his or her naturalist skills of observation and description, including spending time at a sit spot, sketching, photographing, etc.

Volunteer Contract:  Upon completion of the 30 hours of training, MNBTV candidates will design team projects to engage with schools and/or community members totaling at least 12 hours per person.  These self-designed volunteer projects will be created in collaboration with BPRW Land Steward and Field Naturalist with the goal to address specific needs in Conservation Education and/or Urban Wilds Stewardship.  Upon completion on the program, Master Naturalists will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for as long as they choose and will receive ongoing advice and support from BPWD for their naturalist practices and activities.

Written by: Alicia Daniel

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