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Florida Master Naturalist Program Surpasses 400 graduates in St. Lucie County

Post Date:12/04/2017 9:59 AM

St. Lucie County’s Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) instructors are proud to announce that with the conclusion of the most recent course, St. Lucie County has graduated more than 400 students through the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP). FMNP is a certification series designed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). 

Wren Underwood and Amanda Thompson of St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department and Ken Gioeli of the St. Lucie County UF/IFAS Extension are the lead FMNP instructors in the county. Instructors have been offering FMNP courses in the county since 2005. 

 “The Florida Master Naturalist Program courses are a fun and exciting way for community members to learn about Florida’s natural systems, meet like-minded people, and explore area preserves and waterways.  They also provide an avenue for ERD’s Environmental Education & Outreach Division (through Oxbow Eco-Center) to achieve our mission:  To cultivate knowledge, nurture a sense of wonder and inspire stewardship for the natural world,” said Underwood. “Additionally, the FMNP provides volunteers and area eco-tour operators the training to offer engaging and informative interpretive tours to visitors and residents alike.”

The most recent course, the FMNP Coastal Systems Module, took place at the Oxbow Eco-Center where it was facilitated by a team of seven knowledgeable instructors:  Underwood, Thompson, Erin Cartmill, Trish Sposato, Mary Starzinski, Marj Flory and Kathy Petteruti.  These committed facilitators engaged students through presentations on coastal ecology, flora and fauna, conservation, lead hands-on activities and coordinated field trips.  Excursions included trips to MacArthur Beach State Park, seining in the Indian River Lagoon, a tour of area mosquito impoundments, a visit to the St. Lucie Aquarium, kayaking at Round Island, a tour of the Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge and more.

Graduates from this course are: Georgen Charnes, Susan Collins, Kyle Evans, Susan Hamburger, Fritz Hanselman, Holly Hanselman, Barrett Hoard, Jennifer Hoard, Kitty Jackson, Susan Kloosterman, Richard Knott, Janet Mackey, Celeste Marsh, Roy Netherton, Karen Pender, Michelle Peterson, Kim Roberts, Stephanie Santiago, Trish Sposato, Yvonne Steere, Walter Stickley, Neil Stover, Mary Tangora, Tammy Tauscher, and Mark Tauscher. 

In addition, seven students earned the coveted “Florida Master Naturalist” title after completing their third core module.  These dedicated students are Kyle Evans, Sue Hamburger, Fritz Hanselman, Holly Hanselman, Roy Netherton, Kim Roberts and Neil Stover.

Congratulations to all these hard-working students and their instructors! St Lucie County FMNP instructors are looking forward to many more courses and already have their sights set on the 500 graduate mark. If you would like more information about the Florida Master Naturalist Program, including a list of current course offerings, please visit

To learn more about St. Lucie County’s Extension office, go to  And visit  for future Oxbow Eco-Center events and programming.

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