What is a Naturalist?

    And what is a Naturalist indeed? Many people have applied for membership to the Appalachian Naturalist mailing list thinking it is about Naturism. It is not; the two are very different. A Naturalist  is a person who studies the natural world, and quite often is a generalist, as I tend to be. I am interested in everything out there. In college, I was studying Botany, but when I went to graduate school, my interest became animals. In truth I have always been interested in everything practically from the time I was born; trees, plants, grasses, sedges, salamanders, frogs, turtles, snakes, and everything else. I am a jack of all trades, as my professor Dr. Randall described himself, in an age of specialization. I almost specialized, but ultimately refused to do so, therefore never quite finishing graduate school, and never finding work in the Biological Sciences field.
    My greatest respect has always been for the Naturalists of past eras, such as John Bartram, John J. Audubon, Alexander Wilson, Charles Darwin, and Carolus Linnaeus. These men were proficient in all aspects of Biology for their day even though some of them specialized in one thing or another. Wilson and Audubon specialized in birds, Bartram specialized in plants, but they all knew enough about the natural world that they could do quite well talking to each other; I have seen Biologists who knew nothing about the natural world outside their field. Indeed I knew a professor who studied Magnolias. When shown a Tulip Tree (Yellow Poplar, Tulip Poplar) he did not know what it was even though it is in the Magnolia family! I was quite stunned.
   
So a Naturalist is a generalist, interested in everything out there, and I call myself an Appalachian Naturalist since I am a native of these Mountains, and am a Naturalist.

Thank you, and enjoy!