Adkins Arboretum Hosts First Master Naturalist Program

Adkins Arboretum hosted the first Maryland Master Naturalist Program for the Coastal Plain this spring at the Arboretum in Ridgely. The program engages citizens as stewards of Maryland’s natural ecosystems and resources through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities.

Twenty-three participants completed 48 hours of instruction in Maryland’s natural history, flora and fauna, principles of ecology, human interaction with the landscape, the science of science, and teaching and interpretation. Instructors for the program included ecologists, scientists and professors, from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, University of Maryland, Washington College and the private sector, including the Nature Conservancy. A pilot program for the Eastern Shore, the Master Naturalist training also served as the Arboretum’s docent training program.

A highlight of the program was a guided field trip to a protected Nature Conservancy property to learn about “Delmarva bays,” seasonally flooded depressional wetlands also known as coastal plain ponds. Once found in abundance across a large area of the Delmarva Peninsula, Delmarva bays are thought to have originated as wind-blown features at the end of the last ice age. The hydrology and chemistry of Delmarva bays are intricately and dynamically linked to local groundwater systems. Open-canopy (treeless) Delmarva bays also provide habitat for dozens of rare, threatened and endangered plant species, as well as several state and regionally rare frog species.

To receive Master Naturalist certification, trainees must complete 40 hours of volunteer work for the program site. Trainees have researched Arboretum phenology, natural playscapes and the cultural history and environment of Adkins Arboretum, and created an interpretive backpack for visitors interested in birding.

Maryland is one of 34 states with a Master Naturalist program. Planning for Maryland’s program began in 2005. The program’s framework was created in 2008, and by spring 2010, the first pilot volunteer training was conducted at the Howard County Conservancy. Adkins Arboretum offered the first pilot for the Coastal Plain in winter 2011 and will host the next program in fall 2012.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and redesign its entrance to broaden educational offerings and public outreach initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

In photo: Participants in the first Maryland Master Naturalist Program f.or the Coastal Plain held at Adkins Arboretum were: front row, left to right, Jenny Houghton, Jamie Jacobs, Jason Jacobs, Stephanie Simpson. Second row, left to right: Ginna Tiernan, Richard Dempster, Joe Weems, Annmarie Buckley, Julie Poehlman, Ann Rohlfing, Genie Fitzgerald, Cheryl Grabenstein, Carol Jelich. Third row, left to right: John Ingersoll, Alice Macnow, Robin Affron, Ruth Menafee, Mary Revell, Michelle Lawrence. Back row, left to right: Bob Stanley, Jim Wilson, Lynda Tison, Pat Robinson, Roger Tilden. Not pictured: Nancy Neely.