Courses

Naturalist Certificate

The purpose of the Naturalist Certificate is to certify students as having proficiency in occupational skills in interpretive natural history. These skills are required for careers as an interpretive naturalist and related positions with employers such as science and history museums, nature interpretive centers, state departments of natural resources, arboretums, preserves, and forests.

Course Requirements

  1. One course in plant taxonomy, field botany, regional vegetation, or woody plants with a minimum of 90 contact hours.


  2. One course in field biology, natural history, woody plants, animal ecology, or an animal group, with a minimum of 90 contact hours.


  3. One course in ecology or introductory tropical medicine with a prerequisite of one year in general biology, with a minimum of 90 contact hours.
  4. One course in physical geography, geology, land resources, land stewardship ecology, biosphere science, or soils with a minimum of 90 contact hours.

Occupational Techniques Requirement


This requirement is met through course work and proficiency tests administered by the faculty of the Institute.

  1. Museum Techniques

    Must demonstrate proficiency in professional museum techniques for at least one major plant or animal group. Examples are herbarium specimen preparation and management, insect specimen preparation and management, study skin preparation and management, and preserved specimen preparation and management. This usually is achieved through regular work done in Au Sable courses.


  2. Field Techniques

    Must demonstrate proficiency in use of topographic maps, aerial photographs, and geographical positioning systems (GPS) for orientation and other purposes under field conditions. Must demonstrate proficiency in management, transport, and safety techniques for use of boats and canoes. Must demonstrate proficiency in conducting field trips for children and adults, including aspects relating to ecological sustainability, environmental stewardship, and safety through an Au Sable Internship or as a volunteer for a church or nature center.


  3. Literature and Information Techniques

    Must demonstrate proficiency in selecting and managing library materials relating to environmental stewardship and natural history subjects. This can be achieved by (1) developing a specific topical collection for the Institute’s “Green Box Collection;” (2) contributing to the Au Sable website; or (3) volunteer work on an environmental topic in an Au Sable campus library, college library, public library, or nature center library.