|Abstract or Summary
- Engaging, educating, and motivating the public to support and participate in conservation efforts is becoming increasingly important. Key to engaging the public is availability of effective outreach education programs. In particular, adult education programs present unique opportunities to prepare and empower individuals. Although local programs make important contributions, regional or statewide programs present opportunities to contribute to conservation efforts on a major scale. The challenges associated with developing, implementing, evaluating, and providing continued financial support for statewide programs that reach large audiences are substantial. This presentation details strategies that have proven successful for the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP), a statewide conservation education program that includes multiple courses offered by a network of ~150 professional educators representing 80 organizations throughout Florida. The FMNP is curriculum-based and includes 3 core courses, each of which provides 40 contact hours of education that includes classroom learning, field trips, and practical experience in speaking and project development. The FMNP curriculum is supported by educational materials that include videos, presentations, and student manuals. Program evaluation mechanisms are incorporated into program which is fee-based and financially self-sustaining, which precludes the need for successive grants or state support. The objectives of this presentation, therefore, are to provide practical examples of successful strategies that will be useful for individuals and organizations interested in developing conservation education programs and to provide evidence of the programmatic success of the FMNP as obtained through evaluative procedures. Additional information about the FMNP including contact information is available online (www.MasterNaturalist.org).