Today was "graduation day" for me!! I completed the training to earn my certificate as an "Arkansas Master Naturalist"!! The "seed" for this expedition was actually planted in 2009, when I first read about the Arkansas Master Naturalist program being offered at the Gaston's Visitor Center at Bull Shoals/White River State Park near Mountain Home. The training was to start in January , 2009. However, as you may recall, this area was experiencing a miniature "Ice Age" in January/February 2009, and there was, what I lovingly referred to as the "glacier" on my property, that interfered with my travel to the state park (or anywhere else, for that matter!) . So when I found out that there was going to be a second session starting in January, 2010, I was eager to participate! The training costs $125 (which is money well spent, considering all the books you receive, and speakers you get to hear); but, the REAL cost of the training is that you devote several of your Saturdays in January, February, March, and April, to go to the classes. However, this hardly seemed like a sacrifice because of the fascinating people I have met at the classes, and the fun times we have had learning new things together and participating in some very worthwhile adventures in the outdoors. Plus, our group was led by retired chemistry teacher, Dwan Garrison, who is an absolute "dynamo" of energy and enthusiasm!!
In addition to receiving my Certificate of Completion, each of the graduates received their official Tee-shirt, and their very own Arkansas Master Naturalist name badge. Plus, this was no ordinary name badge---this one is held in place on your clothing by magnets, rather than one of those hole-producing stick pins!
In addition, we each received a set of multi-colored business cards, that we can give out to people we REALLY want to impress!
The design of the logo on the back of our Tee-shirts shows the shape of the state of Arkansas, and suggests what the Arkansas Master Naturalists are all about----helping plants, animals, and human beings, all live together in harmony in this place with the nickname, "The Natural State". The bumper sticker shown in the bottom of the photo shows the Internet address for the website, but you can get there even faster if you click on http://home.arkansasmasternaturalists.org If you read my blog post about the Central High School Historic Site, you may recall that I have had a "Girl Scout Badge" mentality in the past. However, as I have gotten older, and realized there are limits to the amount of energy I have to devote to a given activity, I try to prioritize participating in activities that are in keeping with God's purpose for my life. Since the VERY FIRST verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) states "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" I think that means the heavens and the earth are worth taking care of and learning about! So, thanks to everything I have learned during the expedition to become an Arkansas Master Naturalist, I can do a better job of caring for God's creation. Miles of smiles! Tricia (aka Arkansas Master Naturalist, as of May 1, 2010!)