WOLF LAKE — Students ages 9-17 may become Junior and Teen Indiana Master Naturalists through a local program.
The program is put on by the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College and Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site. Both organizations are hosting a monthly nine-session series about various nature topics for local youth to discover Indiana’s outdoor world through hands-on activities, volunteering and connecting with local natural resource and conservation agencies.
Beginning in September, youngsters will get their hands dirty with outdoor investigations each month as they explore topics like owls, geology and soils, nature photography, zoology, wetlands and more.
“Students apply what they learned to volunteer in their own communities: helping remove invasive species, learn about trail maintenance and so much more!” said Merry Lea Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator Kaitlyn Sproles.
“This program is unique because it brings together students with similar interests and provides an environment in which they can learn, thrive and grow,” said Sproles. “There is no other class out there that I know of that brings together so many local experts across a variety of career paths and interests to help inspire the students.”
The mission of the Junior and Teen Indiana Master Naturalist (IMN) programs is to bring together natural resource specialists with young people to foster an understanding of Indiana’s plants, water, soils and wildlife and promote volunteer service in local communities. If students attend at least seven of the nine sessions and complete all of their hours for volunteer service, they receive a certificate and patch upon graduation.
Registration opens Sunday, Aug. 1, and the deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 1. Space is limited. More information, including session dates and topics, can be found on Merry Lea’s website at goshen.edu/merrylea/imn.
The cost is $100 per student for all nine sessions, which covers administrative fees, program supplies, books and snacks. The fee is due in full upon registration and is nonrefundable.
The Junior IMN program includes students ages 9 to 12, and sessions are held from 9 a.m.-noon on each program day. The Teen IMN program includes students ages 13 to 17, and sessions are held from 1-4 p.m. on each program day.
If children from the same family belong in both Junior and Teen IMN programs, parents can decide which age group to sign up all of their children for, so they may attend the sessions together. Age limits are determined by the student’s age as of May 5, 2022.
Program sessions will be held in various locations around Merry Lea’s property and at Gene Stratton-Porter Historic Site at 1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City. See Merry Lea’s website for specific locations and addresses for each session.
Participants are asked to join Merry Lea and Gene Stratton-Porter staff in wearing face masks for the duration of the program, self-screening before arrival and staying home if feeling ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.