The Master Naturalist/Watershed Steward Program

Protect and Enhance the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment
Research Year: 
2005
Issue: 

Many communities, agencies and organizations rely on citizen volunteers for implementing youth education programs, operating parks, nature centers and natural areas, and for providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. The Master Naturalist program in Coconino County is directed at creating a corps of well-informed volunteers to deliver quality environmental education programs and to assist in the stewardship of Arizona's watersheds and natural environment.

Description of Action: 

Coconino County Cooperative Extension initiated a program called Arizona Master Naturalists in fall, 2003. In 2005 this program partnered with the University of Arizona Master Watershed Steward program and modified the name of the program to reflect this change. Volunteers undergo 12 weeks of training focusing on plants (invasive weeds and ethnobotany), wildlife habitat, water and drought issues, stream processes, geology, soils, climatology, forest health and fire ecology, geospatial mapping, interpretation and education, and the natural and cultural history of the region. At the end of the training, class participants give back a minimum of 40 hours in service to organizations and agencies of northern Arizona, including The Arboretum at Flagstaff, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Arizona Game and Fish, the National Park Service, Grand Canyon Trust, The Nature Conservancy and many other organizations.

Arizona Master Naturalists/Watershed Stewards continue to maintain the Web log site http://azmasternaturalist.arizona.edu, initiated by a Master Naturalist in 2004 and used as an information and communication tool to class members and the general public. In addition, a video library of classes has been established due to the efforts of another Master Naturalist.

Impact: 

In 2005, volunteer master naturalists in the Flagstaff area participated in weed pulls, treating 25 acres of noxious weeds along trails and open spaces in the area. They have played a primary role in educating agency representatives and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors regarding the sources and distribution of noxious weeds.

Overall, master naturalist/watershed steward class members donated 4,015 hours to area agencies and organizations in 2005. As of December 31, 2005 the dollar contribution made by Master Naturalist/Watershed Stewards to the community, county, area agencies and organizations is in excess of $70,714, using the federal volunteer compensation rate of $17.61/hour. The Public Programs Coordinator for Willow Bend Environmental Center credits Master Naturalist/Watershed Stewards for increasing their volunteer staff by 8 educators.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality’s Water Quality Division; Flagstaff Community FoundationArizona; University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

Conact Name: 
Wade Albrecht
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

2304 N. 3rd Street

Flagstaff, AZ 86004-3605

(928) 774-1868 office (928) 774-1860 fax