Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Martin Main, an associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) received the 2005 National Wetlands Award for Education and Outreach during May 18 ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
The National Wetlands Awards program honors people who demonstrate extraordinary effort, innovation and excellence in wetland conservation, research or education through programs at the regional, state or local level. Initiated in 1989, the program is co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Highway Administration, and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Martin Main is at the forefront of efforts to protect America’s valuable aquatic resources,” said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at EPA in Washington, D.C. who presented the award. “His leadership, talent and commitment has helped realize the challenging goal that we have established of moving beyond ‘no net loss’ to achieving an overall increase in the nation’s wetlands.”
Nat Frazer, chairman of the UF/IFAS wildlife ecology and conservation department in Gainesville, Fla., said Main’s Florida Master Naturalist Program is the most rigorous, detailed and challenging program of its kind in the country.
“You’d think that the 40-hour requirement would turn people away, but the program has produced 1,500 trained Master Naturalists in the first three years and shows no signs of slowing down,” Frazer said. “These Master Naturalists have provided more than 25,000 hours of volunteer service and have reached over 250,000 people. Sometimes I think it’s more of a movement than a program.”
Main said he developed the UF/IFAS extension education program to promote awareness, understanding and respect for Florida’s natural environment among the state’s citizens and visitors.
“Graduates of the program represent a grassroots coalition of informed and enthusiastic individuals who are motivated by their educational achievement,” he said. “These individuals get involved in their local communities by volunteering at nature centers, speaking to schoolchildren and restoring natural areas. In addition to persons that volunteer community service, Master Naturalists include teachers, park rangers, ecotourism guides, elected officials and many others that are taking this program for its educational content to further their professional goals.”
Because of the program, many graduates have obtained new jobs, received career advancements and gained continuing education credits, Main said. “Most importantly, graduates of the program help build a stronger conservation ethic among Florida citizens and visitors by sharing their enthusiasm for the world in which we live,” he said.
Main, based at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, joined the UF/IFAS faculty in 1996. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Central Michigan University, a master’s degree in biological oceanography from Florida Institute of Technology and a doctorate in wildlife science from Oregon State University.
The Environmental Law Institute is an independent, non- profit research and educational organization based in Washington, D.C. The institute serves the environmental profession in business, government, the private bar, public interest organizations, academia and the press.