PALM BAY – The City of Palm Bay's Turkey Creek Sanctuary Park Ranger and Naturalist, Tracey Wright, has earned the Certificate in Natural Areas Management from the University of Florida's Natural Areas Training Academy.

The Natural Areas Management certification requires the completion of a series of courses in four core areas of study, including managing biodiversity, integrating visitors and volunteers into natural areas, collaboration for ecosystem management, and conservation site assessment and planning. All certificate holders are also Florida-certified Prescribed Burn Managers.

The Certificate in Natural Areas Management is typically held by professionals at state-level agencies, such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida State Parks Service, and water management agencies like the St. John's River Water Management District. By earning this accreditation, Ms. Wright gives the City of Palm Bay the distinction of being one of the few municipalities to have a NATA-certified Natural Lands Manager on staff.

"This certification helps me to better manage Turkey Creek Sanctuary and Palm Bay's other natural areas," said Ms. Wright. "Palm Bay has a unique challenge because our natural areas are all located in urban areas where fire has been excluded for many years, so it is important to learn different management strategies to help manage biodiversity while giving visitors a safe, high quality outdoor experience."

The ability to effectively manage natural spaces and resources for future generations requires a great deal of knowledge that often goes beyond a typical academic setting. Understanding the most current methods for dealing with invasive species, restoring endangered habitats, and finding unique ways to help guests connect with nature requires a commitment to constant learning and the application of new knowledge and initiatives. By seeking out and attaining professional accreditations like the Certificate in Natural Areas Management, City of Palm Bay staff are strengthening their efforts to making Palm Bay one of the Space Coast's best places to enjoy Florida's natural spaces.

For more information about the Turkey Creek Sanctuary, call 321-676-6690 or visit www.PlayPalmBay.org

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