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Louisiana Master Naturalist Program Marks 10 Years

Initially established in 2012 in the New Orleans area, the past 10 years of the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association (LMNA) has seen it grown from one to seven chapters and more than 700 active members across the state.

“Thousands of Louisianians have enhanced their environmental literacy, and their role as ‘citizen scientists’, through the cumulative efforts of chapters of the state LMNA program,” said Rusty Gaudé, the Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter extension agent who spearheaded the creation of the program. “As a Sea Grant and AgCenter agent, I’m proud to have had a hand in that outcome.”

Each chapter hosts classes and field days, getting chapter members and community partners out in nature to promote conservation, learn about local flora and fauna, as well as other environmental and ecological characteristics. Chapters are the Greater New Orleans Chapter (New Orleans), the Northwest Chapter (Shreveport/Bossier), the Northeast Chapter (Monroe), the CenLA Chapter (Alexandria), the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter (East Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes), the Southwest Chapter (Lake Charles) and the Acadiana Chapter (Lafayette).

In the last decade, the Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans (LMNGNO) has obtained a physical headquarters and can now house and lend equipment to chapter members for events and research. Additionally, the New Orleans chapter hopes to develop specialist programs to further enhance competence of their members, as well as create grant application opportunities.

LMNGNO has also created a program to engage certified naturalists who have already completed the workshops but want to continue learning. The Continuing Education and Engagement Program will include study groups, seminars and outings and act as a qualifying event for the Master Naturalist continuing education requirement.

Master Naturalists chapter members focus on learning all about the geological, biological, botanical and entomological aspects of their locale. And through public outreach, Master Naturalists engage the community in the environment that surrounds them.

Master Naturalist certification classes are open to the public who are 18 years or older. Expert Master Naturalists lead prospective members through eight to ten workshops. Each workshop is six hours long and consists of classroom training and field work.

If interested in becoming a Master Naturalist, the best place to start is by attending a general membership meeting. Chapter and other information can be found at