People who would like to learn about the wildflowers of Colorado and about native landscaping at the same time can take the Native Plant Master course offered through Colorado State University Extension in Larimer County. We are accepting applications for the 2015 courses. This program was a well-kept secret aimed at natural resource agency employees and volunteers until a few years ago when it was opened to members of the general public. People have since flocked to these courses held in “outdoor classrooms” along trails in natural areas and open spaces.
The Native Plant Master Program offers courses that include 12 hours of field instruction in plant identification, the use of native plants in sustainable landscapes and the impact of noxious weeds. Participants also learn scientific names, plant families and the use of a botanical key. Courses are supported by a unique database of research-based information on more than 1,000 Colorado plants at http://coloradoplants.jeffco.us
The NPM program is open to adults and youth ages 16-17. Courses will be held at Lory State Park, Pineridge Natural Area, Maxwell Natural Area, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, and Gateway Natural Area. For more information and to obtain an application, visit the CSU Larimer County Extension web page at www.larimer.org/ext or contact the Extension office at 970-498-6000. Applications are due by March 15.
People are using what they learned in the NPM Program. Participants have gone on to create sustainable landscapes featuring native plants that require less water, fertilizer, pesticides and maintenance. Such areas also provide food and shelter for wildlife and help preserve Colorado’s biological diversity. Participants learn about invasive non-native weeds that threaten Colorado’s wealth of natural beauty, its wildlife and the economy. These benefits provide a win-win situation for the participants and for Colorado. One NPM participant stated, “The knowledge has been extremely useful in my contact with the community in leading tours in natural areas. People are very interested in controlling and understanding the alien plants in the area.”