Stacey Scarce, the former Curator of the Acadiana Nature Station found out from Bob Thomas about the New Orleans chapter of master naturalists and the success of their first year. In 2011, if I remember correctly, she recruited a few people from the Lafayette community to start a chapter in Acadiana. The people I can remember include Jon Himel (a teacher at a local high school), Marty Floyd, an active Master Gardener named Stacy Lee and myself (Kyle Patton),.
There were about 10 other people at the first meeting, but they were not interested in going through the rigorous process of establishing and putting on the series of 10 workshops. Over the first couple months, a few more people were recruited including Andre Daugereaux.
We would meet once a month at the Nature Station to brainstorm about what would be needed to pull off a successful program. It was decided that the first set of officers would be Stacey Scarce (President), Marty Floyd (VP), Jon Himel (Secretary), and myself as the Treasurer. Jon started the paperwork to obtain 501c3 Non-Profit Organization Status. We narrowed down the locations to 10 spread out around Acadiana and beyond. From Rockefeller on the coast to the Arboretum in the north, we had a large diversity of programs (and still do).
The first Spring that we tried out the workshops we considered it a 'dry run' with board members being the first class. I believe that was in the Spring of 2012. We spent the next 6 months getting all of 'kinks' out as well as "crossing out 't's" and "dotting our 'i's". The first official cohort was in the Spring of 2013 if my memory serves me correctly. To date, we have had 8 cohorts from this program.
2019 Acadiana Master Naturalist Program Alumni AMNP image and copyright.
The above scenes are all from Lake Martin, probably one of the best wildlife photography destinations in the United States. C& K Paxton images and copyright.