The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Program is to provide science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.
The program educates and trains adult volunteers so they are better equipped to share natural resource information with others in their communities; and to assist with environmental conservation and restoration activities. The University of Illinois Extension partners with local agencies to accomplish the Master Naturalist mission.
What qualifications do I need to become a Master Naturalist?
Anyone 18 or older can become a Master Naturalist. It does not require a degree or years of experience. You must be willing to devote time to volunteering and to continuing education.
Adult trainees in the Master Naturalist program will:
- Learn basic principles about the natural world
- Learn about the interdependent nature of the plants and animals in the various ecosystems of Illinois
- Learn animals specific to Illinois such as mammals, insects, reptiles and fish and birds
- Learn how everyone is part of and impacts nature in rural or urban areas
- Learn practical techniques for both teaching about and managing natural areas
The training will prepare volunteer Master Naturalists to more effectivelyparticipate in local environmental stewardship. They will learn about and may participate in citizen scientist activities. They will be able toshare their knowledge, skills, and passion about the natural world with others so they also can become more engaged. Volunteer work includes, but is not limited to:
- Assisting in the management of local natural areas
- Completing natural resource related office work with special interest groups or not-for-profit agencies
- Teaching adults or children about natural areas
- Giving demonstrations and presentations to local groups
- Serving as a liaison between natural resource agencies and the public
- Serving as a resource person to groups in need of natural resource assistance
Our local unit graduated 21 Master Naturalist interns last fall. This energetic, motivated group is currently working on attaining their volunteer hours to become certified Master Naturalists. Our next class will be in 2015. If you are interested in participating, let us know!