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Natural Areas Training Academy

photo of outdoor class

The Nature Conservancy’s Bryan Kreiter demonstrates restoration
equipment used at Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve during
“Restoration Planning and Techniques for Forested Lands” course

Florida's Natural Areas Training Academy (NATA) was developed through a partnership of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension to meet a growing demand for trained land management personnel.

Managed by the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, NATA brings together regional land management experts from numerous agencies and organizations, as well as extension specialists and agents to provide training and share experiences with newer land managers.

Participants can register for a single workshop or take the series of courses that lead to the Certificate in Natural Areas Management (CNAM), the academy’s core program. The CNAM is a series of five workshops that provide the basic skills necessary to become an effective natural lands manager in Florida; the Certificate is conferred by IFAS Extension. The Academy’s program has been endorsed by the Natural Areas Association as an outstanding training program, and since June, 2000 over 125 natural areas managers have graduated from the NATA program. Participants may take the workshops in any order, and there is no time limit for completion. The five courses required for the CNAM are:

• Conservation Site Assessment and Planning
• Managing for Diversity Across Florida’s Unique Landscape
• Working Across Boundaries to Protect Ecosystems
• Managing Visitors and Volunteers in Natural Areas
• Interagency Prescribed Fire Training (provided by the Florida Forest Service)

Each NATA workshop is led by a team of experienced natural areas management professionals and is held at various sites throughout the state. The academy welcomes all natural resource managers to attend individual workshops or complete the certificate program. The Academy’s training can benefit anyone involved in land management activities.



Partner Involvement

The Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at UF assumed the primary leadership role for NATA beginning in October, 2008. TNC continues to be an active partner providing NATA with training venues and instructors. Courses continue to be held at TNC Preserves such as the Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee and the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Bristol, Florida

The Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides NATA with a Faculty Program Leader, Dr. Holly Ober, who provides guidance and oversight to the Academy. Dr. Ober’s guidance and leadership enabled NATA to transition seamlessly to its new home and contributes greatly to the continued success of the program; her influence is a welcome addition.

NATA’s new home under the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation will also enable the program to develop wildlife related courses pertinent for conservation land managers in Florida such as training for gopher tortoise relocation in Florida. Additionally, NATA now holds courses at the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station located in Melrose, Florida, located near Gainesville.

The Ordway-Swisher Biological Station is a year-round biological field station established for the long-term study and conservation of unique ecosystems through management, research, and education. The property is approximately 9,100 acres, and is a mosaic of wetlands and uplands that include sandhills, xeric hammock, upland mixed forest, swamps, marshes, clastic upland lakes, sandhill upland lakes, and marsh lakes. There is a variety of fauna that inhabit the Station including a number of state and federally listed species. The North Florida Fire Strike Team, which was formed through a joint effort between the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and TNC, is based out of the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station and through this partnership NATA offers the Basic Wildland Firefighter Training (S130/190).

Recent financial support for NATA has been provided by TNC, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and all five water management districts

For more information:

Sarah Friedl, NATA Coordinator
(850) 875-7153
Website and current training schedule:


The National Trails Training Partnership

American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 • (530) 605-4395 • Fax: (530) 547-2035 •

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.



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