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Central Arkansas Master Naturalists


Welcome To Our New Web Page

Central Arkansas is where it all began!  In 2006, at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, a need met a solution.  The need: trained volunteers who could help supplement the work of the Park Interpreters. The solution: a recently relocated Texas Master Naturalist, Tom Neale.  Together the park personnel and Tom created a training program, recruited the first class, and launched the program that has grown to encompass much of the state of Arkansas and has provided thousands of hours of volunteer support to state parks along with dozens of other agencies and entities. 


For 13 years, CAMN members have been stewards of the natural areas in Central Arkansas. We have educated the public and introduced the kids to the wonders of nature and the responsibility we all share in caring for it.  We’ve built trails, provided housing for birds, monitored the quality of rivers and lakes, picked up litter, removed invasive species, grown and planted native plants, and provided educated citizen scientists.   We’ve worked hard and we’ve had fun.  And the Natural State has benefited from it all. Come see what we do!


Our Mission

Our Mission:
To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service
dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.



EDUCATION 

[Photo: The CAMN 2019 NiT Botany Class visits a nepheline syenite glade

Naturalist-in-Training (NiT) classes begin the third Saturday of January and run through the first or second Saturday of May.  Each Saturday is divided into two 3-hour sessions, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and 
12:30-3:30 p.m., with a 30-minute lunch break in between.  NiTs are required to attend 40 hours of the 80-some odd hours of training offered in order to graduate in mid-May.

Subjects covered vary from year to year but include many of the following:  Eco-regions of Arkansas, geology, archaeology, water systems, FrogWatch, weather/Stormwatcher certification, herps, fish, mammals, insects, birds, trees, botany, invasive species, natural areas, stream team, trail building/maintenance, and more. The classroom setting changes from week to week. Venues include the Witt Stephens, Jr. Central AR Nature Center in downtown LR, the Pinnacle Mountain State Park Visitor's Center, AR Natural Heritage Commission, the Archaeology Station on Petit Jean Mountain, Audubon AR, and others.

Once a NiT graduates in mid-May, he or she has the option of becoming a certified Arkansas Master Naturalist. This requires an additional 40 hours of volunteer work and 8 hours of advanced training. 

Interested in joining? You'll find an application form and a class schedule here. 2020 CAMN Application    CAMN 2020 NiT Training Schedule (Subject to change).  Have questions about the program?  Contact Anne Holcomb.  Applications for 2020 will be taken beginning September 15. Deadline for applications is December 20, 2019.


CAMN Volunteers Dedicated to Preschool Nature Education 


Painting with Broccoli!
LWOs paint with broccoli

A core of dedicated volunteers is responsible for a preschool education program offered at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  These volunteers plan, organize and facilitate what is known as Little Wild Ones twice a month at the Visitors Center.  The program was started in 2012, by park interpreter, Maryanne Stansbury .  She reached out to CAMN to get some assistance for the program, which at the time was offered weekly.  Soon the group of volunteers grew and, after Maryanne left the park, this group took on the job of continuing to provide stories, crafts, games and other activities about natural things in the Natural State on their own. 

 

Through the years, the LWO Mavens have watched the children learn and demonstrate their understanding of nature.  We have seen our LWOs grow up and leave us for school.  We have seen their baby siblings  grow into Little Wild Ones.  We’ve honked like geese, spread our wings like eagles, and wriggled on the floor like worms.  We have sung, colored, cut, pasted, and bedazzled.  We’ve hidden acorns like squirrels, planted sunflower seeds, and explored the park and flowerbeds.  We’ve made butterflies out of coffee filters, armadillos out of Slinkies, and bird feeders out of pine cones and peanut butter.   We hope we have instilled love and respect for nature, for that has always been the underlying message. 

 

The current team includes Joellen Beard, Nancy Eddy, Nita Sheth, Fran Henderson, Faith Morrison, Becky Ward, Lynn Jessup, and Nancy Deckard. 


More Educational News






OUTREACH

Recently some jolly CAMN volunteers hung out at a few events around town (and out of town) to help spread our message and recruit new NiTs.  Decorative information booth's were set up offering flyers from most AMN chapters, free milkweed seeds, free candy, and a chance to talk to current CAMN members about our projects.  The three events were the AR Archeological Society meeting at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) weekend at the Vines 4H Center in Ferndale, & the Rivervalley Horticulture Fall Festival in Little Rock.  If you know of a public event you think would be a good fit for a CAMN Booth let one of your board members know!










STREAM TEAM


A few volunteers from the CAMN Stream Team met at the Little Maumelle River access site near PMSP to collect data for our fall stream testing.  The weather was wonderful & we even got to see some beautiful pooches who came down to the stream site for a drink.  If you are interested in helping us test for water quality please contact our Stream Team Leader Gary Earleywine to be added to the email list.  No experience needed!

CAMN Stream Team 3






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SERVICE


CAMN’s Greenhouse

Back in the early days of CAMN existence, we “fell heir” to a greenhouse on the PMSP grounds because one of our members/donors had provided funds to make some necessary improvements.  However, for many years CAMN struggled to make a go of this fabulous tool.  It seemed almost a curse instead of a benefit.  Everyone who signed on to manage the greenhouse got frustrated and left the job (and sometimes CAMN)!  Then along come Karen Seale, Nita Sheth and Bill Toland and the team they assembled.  Finally the greenhouse is a thriving source of native plants and a favorite volunteer job for many of CAMNation.  

In 2016, Karen Seale got the ball rolling with a team that cleaned, repaired and “de-forested” the greenhouse, and then met to sort, plant, label, and water donated seeds. The team met periodically to repot and nurture the newly germinating seedlings.  A thriving Native Plant source was taking root. 

In November of that year, Bill Toland led a group that met to sow some native perennial seeds to prepare for spring planting.  These plants were earmarked for various Butterfly gardens through the area.  A misting system had been added to the greenhouse to take care of the watering needs throughout the winter.   By March of 2017, the team was able to repot thriving young plants and also plant new native seeds – all of which were part of a bigger plan to improve native habitat in several areas CAMN supports. 

Thanks to the leaders who re-energized our membership around making use of the greenhouse, major renovations were completed in 2018.  Two hundred fifty man hours saw the greenhouse cleared of old PVC pipes, rotted wood, plastic sheathing, and other accumulated debris.  CAMN repaired the metal hoops, constructed an aluminum channel and stainless wiggle wire infrastructure, and installed new plastic sheathing, new metal doors, and quality roll up sides.  Bill credits previous experience at St Joseph Center of Arkansas watching the hoop house construction and YouTube videos with their ultimate success. 

By the end of 2018, the greenhouse team was preparing around 1400 pots with 10 different kinds of native plants in preparation for a spring Partners for Pinnacle plant sale.  Throughout the winter, the team monitored and attended the plants. 

In addition, the Arkansas Forestry Commission donated about 500 Dogwood seedlings that will winter in the greenhouse as they gain the size and strength needed for planting throughout PMSP. 

Greenhouse Update