Martin Main
University of Florida
Immokalee, Florida

Dr. Martin Main, an educator and naturalist with an MS in biological oceanography, a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology, and experience in environmental policy at the national level, knows that people will not conserve what they do not understand. Since many of Florida’s citizens and visitors know little about the state’s unique ecosystems, Dr. Main sought to promote understanding and respect for Florida’s natural world by developing the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP), a statewide environmental education and interpretive training program for adults.

Today, a network of more than 150 trained educators from 90 organizations provides FMNP training. Dr. Main designed three teaching modules that describe the ecology, flora and fauna, and conservation challenges associated with Florida’s coastal, freshwater, and upland environments. Each module provides 40 hours of instruction and award-winning educational materials. The modules also incorporate practical learning experiences, such as field trips and interpretive speaking sessions.

Over the last three years, more than 1,500 citizens from all walks of life have earned FMNP certificates. These individuals now volunteer at community nature centers, speak to school children, and restore Florida’s natural areas. Program graduates are helping build a stronger conservation ethic in Florida by sharing their love and ethusiasm for the natural world.