A 10-week program aimed at people who would like to increase their knowledge of nature and the environment and do conservation projects will begin Thursday at the Nahant Marsh Education Center, 4220 Wapello Ave., Davenport.

Called the Iowa Master Conservationist program, it resembles the more familiar Master Gardeners program in that people receive classroom and hands-on outdoor instruction by trained professionals (32 hours in this case) and then volunteer service time to conservation projects (again, 32 hours) to become certified.

The program is sponsored by Iowa State University Extension wildlife programs; Nahant Marsh Education Center, Davenport; Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and Scott County Extension and Outreach, Bettendorf.

The program is open to residents of Iowa and Illinois. The cost is $150. To register, call Extension at 563-359-7577 or Nahant Marsh at 563-323-5196. An online brochure is available at extension.

Five classes will meet 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and five will meet at various times on Saturdays.

Topics will include energy, waste reduction, stormwater and backyard habitat.

Projects will include prairie planting, seed harvesting, water quality testing, wildlife monitoring, staffing conservation centers and conducting educational programs for youth and adults.

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