People who love spending time in the natural areas of the Finger Lakes region and who care about preserving the integrity of the natural world might consider joining Cornell Plantations' Natural Areas Academy (NAA).
The yearlong NAA consists of dozens of expert-led workshops, field trips and directed stewardship opportunities designed to provide participants with the knowledge, tools and skills needed to support efforts in preserving natural resources.
"Utilizing Cornell Plantations' natural areas as outdoor classrooms, the NAA aims to foster the conservation of natural areas and rare and declining species and their habitats by demonstrating essential stewardship methods, cultivating environmental literacy and encouraging interactive experience with the natural world," said Nikki Cerra, natural areas manager.
Topics in the academy range from propagating plants, learning about regional geology, soils and wildflowers, and conserving birds in human landscapes to identifying invasive species, maintaining trails and designing landscapes for native pollinators.
With their new expertise, NAA participants will also help to mentor the next generation of scientists, teachers, environmental stewards and leaders.
"I knew I wanted to participate!" said Betsy Crispell, a 2011 graduate of NAA. "I have always loved the plants, animals and wild places around me, and it seemed that this would be a great way to learn more of these things. And it was!"
Participants in the NAA are expected to work toward the program's goals over the course of the year. After completing a combined 40 hours of participation in workshops and directed stewardship activities, academy members will receive their Natural Areas Mentor certification and may continue to participate in the NAA as a mentor for no cost. The first NAA workshop, to be held Saturday, March 16, will be a mandatory orientation.
The program costs $150. To learn more or to enroll online, go to Cornell Plantations online. Enrollment closes at midnight March 8.