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News Releases from Region 04

Mississippi State University Receives EPA Grant to Increase Environmental Stewardship

Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (
(404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

Columbus, Miss. (May 29, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Mississippi State University as a grant recipient of $199,908 to develop an Amateur Naturalist Program that mirrors the established Mississippi Master Naturalist Program.

“Investing in our colleges and universities support local needs,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “EPA is committed to investing in local projects that will foster environmental awareness and protection.”

The Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center introduces high school students to different ecosystems, natural resource management tools, and conservation careers, and establishes a volunteer corps able to undertake technical environmental education and stewardship projects and programs.

Students will receive 40 hours of initial training and certification through the Amateur Naturalist Summer Course, where they will be introduced to various ecosystems and associated best management practices, interact with environmental professionals, and receive training for communicating stewardship information to a wide range of audiences.

To maintain certification, students will be required to complete a minimum number of volunteer hours in the Gulf of Mexico region sponsored or approved by the Project Team annually. Volunteer work may include restoration projects, outreach events, or stewardship measures. Students will graduate to Master Naturalist status on their 18th birthday.

This program will bolster current citizen-science efforts in the region, such as microplastic and marine debris sampling, as well as initiate new grassroots environmental projects and programs.

For more information on the Mississippi Master Naturalist Program: visit

For more information about the Gulf of Mexico Program go to:

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