The summer of 2016 Grand Staircase Escalante Partners had the opportunity to partner with Utah State University to offer their Utah Master Naturalist Program Desert Course in Kanab, with a focus on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Participants from all over the state of Utah spent a week exploring the exceptional natural and cultural resources in our backyard. The purpose of the Utah Master Naturalist Program is to increase knowledge of Utah’s natural systems, of the plants and animals that depend upon those systems, and people’s roles in shaping our past, in determining our future, and as stewards of the land.  UMNKid

From this program, Partners gained five volunteers who completed the program and are officially Utah Master Naturalists. Referred to as Community Partners, they have committed to at least 25 hours a year of volunteer time that will benefit the Monument. Community Partners Lisa Hartman of Escalante had this to say about her experience, “Time travel is possible because of what I experienced in a five-day Desert Master Naturalist course on the Colorado Plateau. Standing in place, surrounded by pot sherds, I read pictures written on cave walls that appeared between 500 and 1300 AD. Transported  back to approximately 75 million years ago, I found myself holding a vertebrae of an Ornithischia Hadrosaurinae (dinosaur.) And if that is not long ago enough, how about gazing through a telescope at our galaxy, the Milky Way, formed approximately 13.6 billion years ago! All of this discovery happened on the Escalante Grand Staircase. I have a deep appreciation for this land and will protect its natural wonders. My life has taken on a new perspective seen in the grand scheme of all life on this beautiful planet where I live.” If you are interested in becoming a Community Partner or other volunteer experiences for Partners, contact Emily Schrepf at or 559.960.7056. The possibilities are endless!

To learn more about the Utah Master Natualist program visit: and look for future courses in Kanab, Boulder and Escalante.



Community Partners was made possible by the generous support of the National Environmental Education Foundation.





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