FORT MILL --
Every day, scores of people traverse the 2,100-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway, but many may be unaware of the various species that call the nature preserve home.
For those who want a more personal, in-depth knowledge of nature, the Greenway offers the Catawba Master Naturalist Program. The 12-week course, which meets every Tuesday beginning March 12, is a part of the S.C. Master Naturalist program at Clemson University Cooperative Extension.
And if you like field trips, this course is loaded with them, including visits to regional sites such as Kings Mountain and the Draper Wildlife Refuge.
There is a classroom component and well meet about half the time on the Greenway, but well also go off to different sites in the area and see some special things, said Buddy Faile, managing director of Greenway Operations and himself a certified Master Naturalist.
Faile and other staffers, including Michelle Weibel Evans, Ph.D., the director of education for the ASCG, will lead some of the Tuesday sessions, but outside instructors will be on hand as well.
Depending on what the topic is, well bring in people who have a speciality in that area, Faile said.
One of the guest instructors Evans is particularly enthused about is Karen Hall from the Clemson Extension.
She coming down when well be looking at plants, wildflowers and heres the great part fungus! she said.
In addition to seeing all the natural wonders of the outdoors, the super curious will learn how to tell edible fungi from their poisonous cousins. However, we dont recommend anyone to eat fungi, Evans said.
The program is meant to appeal to a wide group of future certified naturalists with varied interests. Topics include weather and climate, geology, mammals, plant and tree identification, aquatics, reptiles, birds and land management.
Its set up for people of all ages, knowledge and skill levels, Evans said. Basically, everyone from zero to expert ornithologist will get something out of this.
While all of the field trips are intended to enhance the learning experience, some could be worth it for the scenery alone. Evans, for example, said a planned trip to Landsford Canal in Lancaster County, not too far outside Indian Land, is timed for the annual blooming of the rare Spider Lillie plants in the Catawba River.
Completing the course qualifies students to teach others, lead nature hikes at the Greenway and participate in other related programs and activities as an instructor, Faile said.
The course will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays from March 12 to May 28. The cost is $600, which covers course materials, instruction and field trip expenses. Participants also receive a free one-year membership to the Greenway.
To register, or for more information, call 548-7255, or go to ascgreenway.org.