Natural Areas Academy


The sustainable use and management of our natural resources and the long-term conservation of our natural heritage depends upon an environmentally literate society, and people who understand and appreciate the natural world. Yet as environmental challenges mount, people are becoming ever more disconnected from nature. 

Cornell Plantations is uniquely positioned to provide the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to reconnect people with nature through the Natural Areas Academy.

Program Requirements

Participants in the Natural Areas Academy (NAA) are expected to work towards the program’s goals and receive certification within a one year period.  Additional program requirements include:

  1.  attendance at the initial orientation workshop,
  2.  40 hours of participation in a combination of workshops, directed stewardship activities, partner opportunities, and research opportunities, and
  3. a non-refundable $150 fee.  

Upon certification, NAA participants are conferred the title of Natural Areas Mentor, and may continue to participate in the academy as a NAA Mentor at no cost.  

Enrollment in the Natural Areas Academy

Check back again for the enrollment window for 2014. If you have any questions, or for more information, please e-mail Nikki Cerra.

Calling all new recruits! Click below to view a brief video featuring Nikki Cerra to learn more about the program. 



Click here to register and pay the registration fee.

Program Learning Opportunities: Workshops and Field Trips

The Natural Areas Academy offers workshops and field trips throughout the year including hemlock woolly adelgid monitoring, plant propagation and natural area tours. Please note: All enrollees must attend the mandatory orientation on Saturday, March 16 from 1:00 to 3:30 at the Nevin Welcome Center.

Click here for a current schedule.

Click here for a printable version of Krissy Boys Faust's presentation "Growing Native Plants From Seed" on Saturday, April 9th, 2011. 

 Directed Stewardship Activities and Research Opportunities

Directed stewardship and research activities will provide an opportunity to reinforce workshop lessons and gain additional hands-on knowledge from Plantations staff and Academy peers. Through learning by doing, you will better understand how the individual pieces fit and interrelate in broader systems, while providing rewarding opportunities for you to focus on your personal interests and growth.

Directed activities will vary across the year, coinciding with the seasonal nature of conservation management.  Stewardship activities will include a broad range of experiences, including restoration ecology, invasive species control, preserve and trial maintenance, monitoring, habitat restoration, and special projects. Research opportunities will include census and surveying for rare plants, vegetation sampling, and project-specific research. Directed activities will be offered during standard working hours, weekends and evenings.