A naturalist is a person who educates the public about fauna and flora and attempts to increase their appreciation of the wonders in their natural environment. He normally enlightens them through a variety of techniques, including tours of parks and forest areas, demonstrations in nature centers and museums, photographs, videos and lectures. He may be employed by a public or private park, a visitor center or campgrounds. Some naturalists are independent contractors who market their services to schools and libraries in need of an educator on environmental subjects.
To make the educational programs captivating to both children and adults, a naturalist commonly incorporates many different techniques into his presentations. He usually shares fascinating scientific and historical facts as he leads groups along paths in parks and recreational areas. If he is inside, he typically has photos and videos of animals, fish reptiles in their natural habitats along with displays of plants that his audience can closely examine. In camping environments, a naturalist commonly shares his knowledge of outdoor living skills and points out edible and inedible plants and trees.
When he is not involved in increasing public awareness through these educational avenues, a naturalist often writes articles on ecological topics for Web sites, newspapers and magazines. He is frequently involved in local campaigns sponsored by parks and recreational departments focused on increasing public awareness of nature and the environment. If he works in the private sector, he is customarily asked to assist in fundraising efforts for local conservation groups. His expertise is frequently required in writing grant applications and press releases.
In addition to public relations and education, a naturalist frequently conducts surveys of parks and forests to assess the condition of flora and fauna. He normally reports his findings to professionals who monitor plant and animal species for disease, population fluctuations and other factors that may significantly affect their sustenance. A naturalist normally takes pictures to illustrate certain conditions and concerns.
Aspiring naturalists are normally required to have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, biology or forestry. Four-year degrees in wildlife management, anthropology or education are often acceptable to prospective employers. In some cases, an employer may consider applicants who have a solid combination of park experience and related college education. Internships and volunteer efforts in environmentally related fields are normally helpful to applicants. A background in public speaking or public event planning is generally considered a plus for a naturalist candidate.