Enrollment is now open for the Natural Resources Stewards Program that begins Sept. 7 at The Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth. The 12 week program emphasizes experiential learning that includes tree and plant identification, forest communities, wetlands, wildlife habitat, invasive species, ecological landscaping, tree and shrub planting, pruning and care, land conservation and protection, sustainable living, permaculture and more.
In exchange for receiving college-level education, participants complete 40 hours of volunteer service in their own communities or through a partnering agency’s program. Graduates who become Natural Resources Stewards will join 400 other stewards throughout the state, working to make a direct impact on New Hampshire’s natural resources.
Past graduates have moved New Hampshire forward by becoming involved in projects such as ecological renovation planning at Manchester’s Gateway Park, permaculture and community gardening for Rooting for Families Community Gardens, and gardening at the Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House. The Natural Resources Stewards Program developed the NH Big Tree Program, in which stewards measure and record the biggest trees throughout the state. In Grantham, stewards helped create a town-wide pollinator program called Bees, Butterflies and Blooms! They have taught throughout the state at venues such as Speaking for Wildlife and Wonders of Wildlife Programs, Permaculture Day and the NOFA-NH Winter Conference.
Natural Resources Stewards have assumed leadership positions with land conservation projects with Moose Mountain Regional Greenways, Bear-Paw Regional Greenways, 5 Rivers Conservation Trust and many others, and have joined town conservation commissions, recycling committees and advisory councils in order to meaningfully impact local laws and ordinances and be a voice for our natural resources.
“Last year, Natural Resources Stewards clocked almost 12,000 volunteer hours of service in over 40 categories of natural resource work, with a value of approximately $300,000,” said Mary Tebo Davis, Natural Resources Field Specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension. “The program is open to all, including those who aren’t yet sure how they can help but want to make a difference.”
Tebo Davis encourages those interested to sign up quickly. “Space is limited, so the sooner people apply, the more likely they will get into the program.”
Co-sponsors of the Natural Resources Steward Program are UNH Cooperative Extension, NH Division of Forests and Lands, NH Fish and Game Department and its Wonders of Wildlife Program, U.S. Forest Service, and Great Bay Community College (which offers college credit for the course), in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and County Conservation Districts.