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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 executes all program logistics in the state FMNP office. Her regular tasks include general operations, supporting the instructor network, managing website data, tracking program impacts, and other projects. Caitlin holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Anthropology from Rollins College, and a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She is also a registered yoga teacher!


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."

Rosalyn Kilcollins, North Central FL Representative

Rosalyn has a BS in Biology and MS in Geography from FSU. She completed all but a thesis toward an MS in Secondary Science Education from FAMU/FSU. She currently does part-time consulting offering training, education and facilitation regarding coastal community resilience and climate adaptation, ecosystem studies - including the Florida Master Naturalist Program courses, ecological restoration, living shorelines, stormwater best management practices, native and invasive plant species, environmental education and more. 

Jason Robertshaw, Central West FL Representative

Jason is the Program Manager for Virtual Learning at Mote Marine Laboratory. He is the technical director for virtual learning connections and the multimedia producer for content. He also manages various educational technologies like Mote's distance learning studios. Prior to Mote, Jason worked in public television and in environmental project management for the state of Florida. He is currently the web developer for the Florida Marine Science Educators Association, a FMSEA/FWC Aquatic Species Collection Workshop instructor. Jason is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and Instructor and serves as the Central West representative on the FMNP advisory board.

Sara Piotter, Central East FL Representative

Sara is Senior Environmental Educator at the Environmental Learning Center (ELC), a non-profit nature center located on a lush mangrove island within the central Indian River Lagoon. Her absolute favorite part of working at the ELC is helping others strengthen their relationship with nature. Through education programs, eco-tours, community events, interpretive media, and educational displays, Sara is able to share her love of nature in many different ways while serving at the ELC. In her free time, she enjoys cooking spicy food, tending to her army of houseplants, listening to live music, and all things nature - especially searching Florida’s trails for Palmetto Tortoise Beetles!

Allan Hallman, North East FL Representative

With almost 24 years with FWC, Allan feels like he has not worked a single day. He attended Macon, Middle Georgia and UGA colleges. Degree: BSFR - Bachelor of Science Forest Resources – concentration in wildlife science. In his current role, he collects biological samples from harvested game on WMA, collects sick animals region wide for testing, and responds to nuisance wildlife issues/wildlife attacks on domestic animals and humans. He's also active in educational wildlife programs to general public (utilizing extensive skull collection, wildlife exhibit trailer) and conducts prescribe/wildfire operations as needed.

Sarah Falkowski, South West FL Representative

Sarah Falkowski is the Education Coordinator for Rookery Bay Reserve. Sarah manages the Education Department, including K-12 field trips, as well as naturalist and public programs at the Environmental Learning Center, within the 110,000-acre Reserve.  She creates the calendar of events and trains interpretative volunteers, in addition to serving as the Reserve’s education liaison with the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network. Her credentials include Certified Instructor for the Florida Master Naturalist Program, Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation, and proud graduate of Leadership Collier, Class of 2015. 

Kristen Hoss, South East FL Representative

Kristen is an educator and ecological consultant who teaches FMNP in Broward County, produces in-school environmental and science education programs, and provides expertise for ecological surveys and monitoring. She has a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a Masters in Conservation Ecology and Wildlife Sciences. and over 30 years of experience in the field of ecology (inclusive of marine, aquatic and terrestrial) and the management of natural areas and wildlife. Kristen’s passion is making a difference in people's lives, to the environment and to wildlife through working and partnering with like–minded people and organizations that share her vision of promoting sustainability through self-empowerment and education. Kristen’s work has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, Wildlife Views TV program, the Pompano Forum, The Pelican, the Miami Herald, Poder and By the Sea Times.

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