Field Naturalists aren't really generalists — they're specialists in integration. Our curriculum, while it covers the fundamentals of natural history such as geology and botany, emphasizes the complex ways that these landscape "layers," including human history, interact to create ecosystems. We train naturalists who, dropped into an unfamiliar patch of land, could tell its story stretching back thousands of years.
Simply understanding the landscape is not enough, however. Students craft their writing and public speaking skills throughout the program, practicing many different styles to reach many different audiences. Field Naturalists strive to forge the link between scientists and the public. And we don't do all the talking; we listen to and learn from people in communities where we work. We bring open minds and objective analysis to develop solutions that work for people and places.
Using these skills, students develop a master's project in consultation with a partnering conservation organization such as a land trust, federal or state agency, or municipal parks department. Each project meets a demonstrated need of the organization, ensuring that the work will be used. Field research spans the summer of the first academic year. By the end of the two-year program, each student will have produced a professional report for the sponsoring partner, written academic reflections, and a journal publication or popular article.