2021 Wildlife Newsletter

Access digital copies of guides and regulations publications from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Issue link: http://digital.outdoornebraska.gov/i/1327210

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Page 2 of 7

Nature Works in Nebraska EXPLORE. CONTRIBUTE. CONNECT. These are the three elements that define our community of Nebraska Master Naturalist volunteers and partnering organizations. Nebraska Master Naturalists are landowners, teachers, professionals, guides, college students, parents, retirees — anyone with a passion for nature, conservation, and education. We get to explore biologically unique landscapes alongside conservation professionals like those at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the University of Nebraska, and others with a heart for the outdoors. We contribute our time, talents, and expertise through engaging volunteer opportunities in habitat management, environmental education, citizen science, and outdoor skill building. Most importantly, we connect with fellow Nebraskans to promote, educate, and conserve our natural heritage of Nebraska. The Nebraska Master Naturalist program began in 2010. Since then we have trained and certified 500 Nebraskans, through our in-depth and in the field events. The program is a key resource for housing a volunteer network dedicated to promoting the conservation of Nebraska's natural resources. Our Master Naturalists have contributed over 90,000 volunteer service hours valued at $2,450,000 in salary savings to natural resource agencies and organizations throughout the state. Our primary financial support comes from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the University of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Wildlife Conservation Fund. We are also fortunate to partner with over 30 other conservation and education programs and organizations around the state to help us fulfill our mission. Our naturalists have shown commitment, ingenuity, and dedication to advancing the program. This is done so that more of our fellow Nebraskans can have opportunities to learn about and experience our great state's diverse ecosystems, and to impact a developing conservation- minded community. Establishing this knowledge and identity in the place we call home helps to further build on our understanding and efforts to protect and enhance our natural areas and benefit the species that live in the state. This past year, 2020, was one of change and adaptation for all of us dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. Our program was able to rise to the challenge and still meet the needs of our volunteers by expanding our programming online. Although this was no substitute for meeting in person and learning hands-on, it allowed us to keep learning and developing new skills while at home. The silver lining of online learning is that it has strengthened our community of naturalists that are spread throughout the state, by bringing us closer together, albeit virtually. We are hopeful that throughout 2021 we will be able to offer online training opportunities as well as in-person events. To learn more about the Nebraska Master Naturalist program and view our list of upcoming training events please check out: www.NEMasterNatrualist.org or contact the author at Mjones30@unl.edu. 3 Nebraska Master Naturalists contribute to the conservation of Nebraska's plants and animals. Here, they venture out to dip net and seine in the Niobrara River. These sampling methods are useful for documenting aquatic species as an indicator of water quality. By Matt Jones, Program Coordinator for the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program PHOTO BY MATT JONES

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