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Florida Master Naturalist Program

Florida Master Naturalist Program

Who We Are

Dr. Martin Main

Program Leader

Dr. Main began developing the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) in 1999 following a 1998 south Florida eco-heritage workshop. He realized the great need for a professional development education program on Florida's natural history. "I believe that most people are genuinely interested and concerned about nature, and that as they learn more, their level of interest and concern increases. I was surprised, however, at the tremendous response to the FMNP, which I think is a very good indication that Floridians will work hard to ensure healthy environments, clean water, and diverse wildlife are available for future generations to enjoy."

Dr. Main has since contributed to the development of Master Naturalist programs in many other states and has won many awards. He is a Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.


Shelby Sowder

FMNP Registrar

Shelby and the UF/IFAS Office of Conferences and Institutes have worked with the FMNP since the first class launched in 2001. Shelby ensures that all registrations, finances, class logistics, and course materials are in order. She coordinates with FMNP instructors to post current course offerings and assist participants with the course registration process. Shelby’s professionalism and enthusiasm make her an instrumental partner in the success of the FMNP.

Caitlin Robison

FMNP Program Coordinator

Caitlin supports program logistics in the state FMNP office. Her regular tasks include daily program operations, supporting the instructor network, managing website data, tracking program impacts, and other special projects. Caitlin received her MA in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2022, and is a registered yoga teacher in Gainesville. 

Advisory Board

The FMNP Advisory Board (FAB) serves to guide the FMNP towards fulfilling its mission of promoting awareness, understanding, and respect of Florida's natural world among Florida's citizens and visitors. The Board is composed of 18 dedicated instructors and graduates that are passionate about the Florida Master Naturalist Program.

Amanda Thompson, FAB President

Amanda grew up in Ontario, Canada, just an hour outside of Toronto. For the last 18 years, Amanda has been immersed in learning, training, and developing environmental education programs for a wide variety of audiences. Throughout her professional life, she continues to build long-lasting and meaningful partnerships with like-minded organizations such as the FMNP and National Association for Interpretation (NAI). Thompson earned her bachelor’s from the University of Guelph in Cultural Anthropology and finds that she uses her degree every day to help connect people to the natural world around them. Thompson is on the path to graduate from Unity College with a M.S. in Wildlife Management & Conservation at the end of 2023.

Amanda is a lead Florida Master Naturalist Instructor and a Certified Interpretive Host, Heritage Interpreter, an Interpretive Trainer for NAI and currently is the president of the FMNP Advisory Board. In 2019, Thompson was awarded the Outstanding Interpreter of the Year from NAI’s Sunny Southeast Region. Since January 2021, Amanda has worked for the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy as the CCI Training & Education Coordinator for TNC’s novel Center for Conservation Initiatives.

For 13 years, she worked for St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department. She also worked as a zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo working with avian and reptile exhibits.

Amanda’s professional goal is to create impactful programming through innovative partnerships to help create more environmental stewards for conservation.


Chad Truxall, FAB Vice President

Chad Truxall is the Executive Director o f the Marine Discovery Center (with responsibility for implementing the organization’s mission to protect and restore Florida’s coastal ecosystems.

Prior to his role as Executive Director, Truxall served as the Director of Programs for MDC and was responsible for developing
and implementing hands on, feet-wet education and conservation programs

In 2018, he was awarded the Outstanding New Leader Award from the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA), an international network of nature and environmental learning centers. Truxall strongly believes that as humans become more disconnected from the natural world, nature and environmental learning centers will play a critical role in connecting people back to nature and also with each other.

He is a Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) lead instructor and serves on several boards including the FMNP Advisory board, New Smyrna Beach Areas Visitors Bureau, and the Association of Nature Center Administrators.

Truxall holds a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a specialization in Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida and has more than 20 years of experience as a biologist, educator and non-profit manager.

Truxall is a Florida native and resides in Port Orange, FL with his wife, daughter, 2 cats, and 2 Labrador Retrievers.

Katherine Clements, FAB Past-President

Dr. Katherine Clements serves on the FAB as the most recent past-president. Dr. Clements is the Ecology and Natural Resources Educator for UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability Sarasota County. Previously a practicing naturopathic physician with a background in environmental studies, she believes the health of the environment is intricately linked with our own health and well-being. She brings the love of all things natural to her position!

In her words, "One of the best choices I ever made was to return to my love for nature and education. Every day I learn something new, and every day I get to be outside. I love working with my students, co-instructors, and other natural resource agency professionals to teach those who will teach others about the uniqueness, beauty, and necessity of our Florida’s ecosystems. It is an honor to work with the FMNP Advisory Board and Dr. Main to ensure the future of this program. I feel privileged to be a part of this committed team of naturalists, scientists, and educators who strive to empower environmental stewards and conserve our natural resources for generations to come."

Training Partners

We greatly appreciate the organizations that have formed partnerships with the University of Florida/IFAS to offer Florida Master Naturalist Program classes through their facilities.

FMNP courses are posted throughout the year, so while you may not see courses on our schedule in your area at the moment, that doesn't mean one won't be held soon. If there are no classes listed in our schedule for your area, contact your local Instructor Team via the list of regions on the Course Locations page