Master Naturalist Program
The Charleston Master Naturalist course is for adults of all ages who want to better understand and protect the rich natural resources of South Carolina. While focusing on the coastal environments in and surrounding Charleston County, participants will sharpen their identification skills, learn to “read” landscapes, and develop an understanding of ecological relationships and issues across the SC Lowcountry. Graduates have the opportunity to participate in the Coastal Master Naturalist Association which continues the learning process through coordinated field trips, outings with professional naturalists, and volunteer opportunities.
The Charleston Master Naturalist course consists of an evening orientation on the first course date followed by 12 full days of classes on Tuesdays during the spring and fall of each year. Organized and conducted by our Interpretation Department, the course begins with explorations of the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, a nearly 1,000 acre site that has many distinct habitats rich in natural and cultural history. Other potential target sites include the Francis Marion National Forest, Bonneau Ferry WMA, Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, and Bennett’s Point Field Station. Through visiting sites such as these and hearing from specialists such as Drs. Richard Porcher, Joel Gramling, Al Segars, and Joe Kelley, participants will discover the importance and complexity of topics such as watersheds, estuaries, barrier island ecology, Carolina Bays, and hammock islands.