FAIRFIELD -- Across the country, naturalist training programs are reconnecting people with nature and preparing them to make a difference in their communities. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of the plants, animals and environmental conservation of Connecticut’s natural resources, and you would like to experience the rewards of applying that knowledge through community outreach and educating others, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Naturalist Training Program is a perfect fit.

The next naturalist training offered by Connecticut Audubon in our area is enrolling now for the fall program. Ten classes, six in Fairfield and four in Milford, will meet Tuesdays (with one exception), Sept. 3 through Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over 10 weeks, the program provides 40 hours of training, incorporating a mix of both indoor classroom presentations and outdoor, hands-on field experiences led by environmental educators, natural resource managers, scientists, teachers and professors.

One feature of this program setting it apart from others is that the class will meet at three different Connecticut Audubon centers in Southwest Connecticut — two located in Fairfield and one on the coast of Long Island Sound in Milford. This offers the opportunity to study the ecology, biodiversity, natural history and conservation needs of many different ecosystems. Course topics include plant and bird identification, geology of Connecticut, mammals, herpetology, marine ecosystems and climate change.

Citizen naturalists are vital contributors in every community, and the need is continually growing. To help expand the local corps of dedicated environmental volunteers in southwest Connecticut, as well as other parts of the state, Connecticut Audubon has offered naturalist training opportunities for several years, welcoming adults of all experience and knowledge levels.

“It was one of the best courses I have taken in my lifetime,” said Meral Prewitt of Stratford, graduate of a previous class. “Not only did I learn more about nature and my surroundings, but I met a group of outstanding individuals who have like passions.”

At the conclusion of the training, graduates receive a certificate of completion and choose how to apply their knowledge and individual skills in volunteer work to support education programs and operations at any Connecticut Audubon Society center.

The cost of the program is $260 for CAS members and $315 for non-members (includes a Connecticut Audubon Society membership). Participants should expect to attend every class, and must be able to contribute 40 hours of volunteer service following the training. The application deadline is Aug, 15, 2019, but class size is limited and spaces fill quickly.

For more information about The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Naturalist Training Program and to apply, visit: www.ctaudubon.org/2019/05/volunteer-naturalist-training-program/. For questions, please email cnoyes@ctaudubon.org or call Connecticut Audubon’s Center at Fairfield, 203-259-6305, ext.109.

The Connecticut Audubon Society conserves Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and habitats. Founded in 1898, Connecticut Audubon operates nature facilities in Fairfield, Milford, Glastonbury, Pomfret, Hampton, and Sherman, a center in Old Lyme, and an EcoTravel office in Essex. Connecticut Audubon Society also manages 19 wildlife sanctuaries around the state, preserves 3,300 acres of open space in Connecticut and educates over 200,000 children and adults annually.