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North Woods, Great Lakes Curriculum Premiere

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Audience members who contributed to the development of the curriculum stand and receive recognition.

The first Minnesota Master Naturalist Program North Woods Great Lakes course was taught in Duluth in 2008, making the Great Lakes Aquarium an appropriate venue for the premiere of the latest curriculum book, North Woods, Great Lakes: An Introduction to the Natural History of Minnesota’s Coniferous Forests. Hundreds of Master Naturalist volunteers have since completed the course, graduating into service to promote awareness, conservation, and understanding of Minnesota’s natural environment in their communities.

The cover of North Woods, Great Lakes: An Introduction to the Natural History of Minnesota’s Coniferous Forests.

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Amy Rager, state program director for the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program.

On Monday, February 3rd, over one-hundred Master Naturalist graduates, instructors, specialists, University of Minnesota Extension & DNR staff gathered at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth to celebrate the premiere of the North Woods, Great Lakes (NWGL) curriculum. This 316-page curriculum focuses on the unique features of the environment found in the northeastern part of the state and serves as the textbook for northern Minnesota-focused NWGL Master Naturalist classes. Amy Rager, the state program director for the Master Naturalist Program, kicked off the night with her perspective on what it took to develop this comprehensive natural history curriculum. She shared a brief program history,, congratulating graduates and contributors alike for their dedication, and continued involvement in the Master Naturalist program.

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Kurt Mead, Minnesota DNR Tettegouche State Park Interpretive Naturalist and author of Dragonflies of the North Woods.

Keynote speaker, Kurt Mead, took the podium later in the night. As a Department of Natural Resources interpretive naturalist at Tettegouche State Park, Kurt contributed to the development of the NWGL curriculum and worked with various Master Naturalist volunteers over the years. During his presentation, Kurt described t the characteristics that make Minnesota’s North Woods, Great Lakes biome unique and fascinating.

Over three-thousand participants have completed the statewide Minnesota Master Naturalist program since its inception in 2005. Master Naturalist volunteers have contributed over four hundred thousand hours service through stewardship, research, and education impacting over 3.4 million acres of Minnesota’s natural resources. The NWGL curriculum has received wide recognition as a quality resource for learning about natural history and ecology in the region. The February premiere was a celebration of all that the program has been able to accomplish. It was a way to get people together to discuss their Master Naturalist stories and share the experiences that have led to the success of the program.

The loon, a Minnesota Master Naturalist icon.
Thank you to all Master Naturalist volunteers, instructors, contributors, and the public for making the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program a success. We look forward to working together to further build upon the mission of University Extension, Minnesota DNR, and the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program.

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