Do I need to take your class?
FWC requires that any individual working on the relocation and management of the gopher tortoise to be certified as an Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent. The use of Authorized Agents for gopher tortoise permit activities is now required by FWC according to their Permitting Guidelines. Please read the requirements to become an authorized agent to determine if you need to take our courses for certification.

What are the requirements to become an Authorized Agent?
Please see the permitting guidelines, page 13-14.

How do I get certified to be an Authorized Agent?
After taking our classes, you will need to show a completion/passing letter to FWC. The application fee to FWC is $500.

What classes are offered?
Class 1-A: Covers the FWC requirements for certification in gopher tortoise surveys.
Class 1-B: Covers the FWC requirements for bucket trapping, live trapping, hand shovel excavation, and marking, transport and release.
Class 1-C: One-on-one instruction in mechanical excavation.

We have partnered with Wildlands Conservation to offer one-on-one training for mechanical excavation. The training course in mechanical excavation reduces the FWC experience criteria for this activity from excavation of 50 burrows and extraction of 20 tortoises to excavation of 30 burrows and extraction of 12 tortoises. After taking the class, you will still need to show that you have excavated 30 burrows and extracted 12 tortoises under the supervision of an Authorized Agent. Any burrows excavated during the class will count towards your final required number.

Please contact Lance Arvidson about mechanical excavation training.

How do I prepare for class?
We strongly suggest you buy a copy of the Ashton and Ashton book before the class. We send out study guide instructions a few weeks prior to class. You also need to read the latest FWC permitting guidelines.

Do I have to take a test?
Yes, there will be written and field exams as part of the class. In addition, our survey class has a take-home test requirement. You will receive a passing letter once you have submitted your take-home test.

What experience do I need in order to take your classes?
Our classes are offered for professional certification. We strongly recommend that you have some training and experience in Florida field ecology prior to taking our classes. We expect people to have knowledge of Florida ecosystems, and an understanding of the conservation issues surrounding the gopher tortoise.

Is there an introductory class I can take?
Yes, we offer one- or two-day natural history courses, depending on your needs and experience level. These classes are also great for people who don’t need to become authorized agents, but instead want to learn about gopher tortoise natural history and conservation.

Contact Chase Pirtle for more information about these classes.

How do I register for your classes?
Watch our website for the dates of our next class. You will when be able to download and fill out the Registration form and e-mail it to Chase Pirtle. See also Directions and Accommodations.