Arkansas Master Naturalists Learning Paths


A leashed Hiker-dog on a kid-friendly hike.

Arkansas Master Naturalists participated in the June 2 National Trails Day, so members led several hikes around the state and shared their love of the environment.

I participated by leading a kid-friendly hike on part of the Shepherds Spring Loop Trail at Lake Fort Smith State Park. With the heat, a short out-and-back hike was the best option and made it a fun outing for folks at all experience levels.

Becoming involved with Arkansas Master Naturalists placed me with a group of people who share a commitment to conserving and improving Arkansas’ environment and beauty. I’ve benefited from the expertise of members and look forward to continued learning. They are true to their mission of “providing education, outreach, and service” to benefit the natural environment of Arkansas.

Ark Master Nat logo

When I first got involved, I attended all the training possible and volunteered where I could, not completely understanding how my actions would lead to certification.

To help my understanding, I made graphic organizers to communicate the process of becoming a Certified Master Naturalist and the Continuing Education to maintain certification each year.

The first graphic shows the path from being a Naturalist in Training (NIT) to certification. It made me happy that the trainers decided to use this graphic as part of the Naturalists in Training materials. I appreciated Care Butler’s suggestions as I revised these to be as clear as possible.

Master Naturalist graphic0118

The graphic below shows the required Continuing Education and volunteer hour requirements to meet annual certification requirements. Read the pages from bottom to top to follow the sequence for becoming certified or continuing annual certification.

Master Naturalist graphic adv training0118

If you enjoy the rich natural environments found in Arkansas, get involved with the Arkansas Master Naturalists. You’ll immediately be immersed in an exceptional group of like-minded folks where you can contribute according to your interests. Through learning and volunteering, you’ll positively impact the natural world in your own backyard, and have a lot of fun in the process!

New Map of Lake Alma Trail and Rec Areas

LAT Map 1

partial page 1

Coming soon! A beautiful map of the Lake Alma Trail, Disc Golf and recreation areas designed by Underwood Geographics.

  • Thank you to Western Arkansas Planning and Development Commission and Rep Charlotte Douglas for design grant.
  • Thank you Crawford County Advertising and Promotion Commission for printing grant.
  • Thanks to Mayor Keith Greene, the City of Alma staff, and Harry McWater, for technical assistance and support. 
  • Thank you to Arkansas Master Naturalists for inspiring me to invest the time to write grants!
  • Thank you to Calvert McBride Printers in Fort Smith
  • Thank you to Kristian Underwood, for his commitment to producing beautiful and functional maps, whether for a city park or the Ozark Highlands Trail!

We’ll be able to share this map/brochure in print and digital forms soon!

LAT Map 2

partial page 2

Arkansas Master Naturalists: Pausing to Learn

Ark Master Nat logoSince January I’ve been involved in training with Arkansas Master Naturalists (AMN), putting a crimp in my hiking plans but with great rewards. It’s easy to plow ever forward almost mindlessly from one outdoor adventure to another without appreciating the gifts to be found along the trails.

Becoming a Master Naturalist required completing 40 hours of formal training on Saturdays, so I sacrificed some trail time, but I met a great group of diverse people with many talents and areas of expertise. This training served as a beginning point for future learning and helped me realize how little I know about our natural world. The AMN encourages participants to follow their interests in learning and volunteer efforts.

At the graduation program while listening to others discuss our path to this point, I decided to draw a visual aid to show how the training lays a foundation for future learning and service to our environment. My favorite part of this visual is the two arrows up and out indicating future work and continued learning. (Revised in Jan. 2018 for the incoming Naturalists in Training.)

Master Naturalist graphic0118

My formal pause for learning is coming to an end, but I’ll be sure to slow down and look more carefully as I hike along the trails. I also look forward to meeting my classmates as we volunteer in service to our natural areas.

Now, my mind is buzzing with ideas for future trips. So many trails and so little time!


A few of the graduates of the Naturalists in Training


Tom was my mentor and encourager