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Alabama Master Naturalist

Basic Training & Core Objectives

Did you know? Alabama is home to 93 native reptiles, including 12 lizards, 49 snakes, 31 turtles and the alligator. To begin the process of becoming a certified AMN, the typical training time will take from 3 to 6 months during which a candidate will have to complete a minimum of 40-hour basic training course offered through Extension or another authorized organization.  Once their 40-hours of training are completed, each participant will be encouraged to also perform 30 hours of volunteer service per year (See Volunteer Service).

The minimum basic training course of 40 hours will be accomplish through classroom and field experiences, with 25 % of that time spent in the field.  In addition, outside classroom reading and homework assignments will be required to help prepare participants for classes.

Due to Alabama’s geographical diversity, the natural resources of our state vary greatly.  Therefore, as the AMN program spreads throughout the state and local chapters are formed, each region will customize their training program to no only teach about Alabama’s natural diversity as a whole but also focus on the local ecosystems. The training provided will be designed to begin with an overview of the biomes/ecosystems that exist throughout Alabama and conclude with a close-up look at biomes/ecosystems in the area of the training.  For example the training for the Mobile area would be different from the Birmingham area.  Regionally specific training will be coordinated with local resources and speakers through the guidance of the AMN State Coordinator or designated representative.

Basic training covers the background knowledge and skills that every naturalist needs to have.

An Alabama Master Naturalist will know…

  • Forest sceneAll aspects of their role as an Alabama Master Naturalist, the mission and objectives of the program, and the guidelines for participation
  • What a naturalist is and does and the significance of naturalists and natural history
  • The biogeography of Alabama, including the physiographic regions and the geological and ecological aspects that make them distinct
  • Basic concepts of ecology
  • Basic concepts of geology
  • Basic resource management principles
  • Some native flora and fauna in the region
  • The general process of science
  • The roles of Alabama state agencies in the management and conservation of natural resources

An Alabama Master Naturalist will be able to…

  • Use a key to identify organisms
  • Use a field guide
  • Share knowledge with others (verbally and/or in writing)
  • Make and record observations in nature
  • Recognize when he or she does not know the answer to a question, but be able to seek out answers from people, books, or other reliable resources

Every Alabama Master Naturalist training will include…

  • Both field and classroom experiences, with a minimum of 25% of the course time spent in the field
  • Information from unbiased, research-based sources
  • Material on the following topics:
    • Introduction to the Alabama Master Naturalist program
    • American Naturalists
    • Basic Ecology
    • Biogeography
    • Geology
    • Nature of Naming
    • Education and Interpretation Skills
    • Citizen Science and Research Skills
    • Ecology and Management of the systems occurring in the region
    • Overview of vertebrates, invertebrates, trees and other plants (biology, ecology, identification, conservation and management.

Once an individual satisfactory completes the 40-hours of basic training, they will then be recognized as an Alabama Naturalist in Training and a member in the Alabama Master Naturalist Program.  They will remain at this level of certification as long as they meet the AMN requirements for membership.


Advanced Certification Training

Once an individual completes the 40 hours of basic training, he or she will want to pursue further training so that they can move from being an Alabama Master Naturalist in Training to a Certified Alabama Master Naturalist. To achieve this level of achievement, an individual must complete 30 hours of advanced certification training in an approved program over the next three years as well as complete and report 30 hours of volunteer service from an approved project per year. These advanced trainings hours may take several forms such as a one or more day retreat to one of Alabama’s natural areas, a one-day training or a couple of hours of training in an afternoon.


Alabama State Lands

Alabama State Parks

Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries