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TEACHER/NATURALIST - Education/training

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As positions vary in this field, so do qualification requirements. For example, naturalists at the New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) are required to have some knowledge of natural history, a background in education, excellent communication and time-management skills, and a cooperative attitude. NJAS believes that for a naturalist position, field experience is more valuable than a degree in natural science, and the necessary formal education can be attained through many of its own projects and not-for-credit workshops. Internships are another great way to gain hands-on experience in this field. Many nature centers and zoos employ interns to provide opportunities for individuals to gain experience in the field of natural science. Working as an intern or volunteering at a park, nature center, zoo, museum, or camp can be useful training and may eventually lead to a paying job. Some high schools, such as North Hollywood High School in Los Angeles, California, and the High School for Environmental Studies in New York City, offer a program of classes on ecology. These classes cover agriculture, environmental science, Latin, personal and planetary health, ecology, systems theory, economics, and botany. It is a very good idea to take some environmental studies courses that are offered at your local community college. The more formal education you have, the more employable you will be.

Aside from formal academic training and the hands-on experience offered by internships and volunteer positions, you can do much to educate yourself in the wonders of the natural world. Explore your own neighborhood and town. Study its natural features, green spaces, wildlife, and vegetation. Go to the library to study the area's natural history; research will be an important component of your work as a teacher/naturalist, so it is a good idea to develop these skills. Always carry a sketchbook with you so you can record any interesting or unusual flowers, birds, leaves, or land features you may encounter. This will help sharpen your observation skills, which will someday be of great importance in your job.

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