Gain the knowledge and skills you need to share the natural world with others in this intensive workshop format. Through a combination of online coursework and field time, you will:
- gain an understanding of Illinois natural history (geology, plants, and wildlife) and its cultural history (Native American history and how humans have shaped the landscape),
- learn the fundamentals of botany, ecology, and conservation,
- enhance your love of nature by spending time on the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres, including its prairie, woodland, and wetland habitats,
- participate in guided hikes to learn about native trees, birds, wildflowers, and more,
- develop interpretive skills so you can educate and inspire others, and
- learn from expert instructors and build your network in the naturalist community.
Who is this training for?
This program is great for teachers, natural areas stewards, students age 18 and older who are interested in pursuing a career in the outdoors, and those working in informal nature education. There are two ways to benefit from this program:
- Grow your skills as a naturalist by simply completing this training.
- Pursue the Master Naturalist Certificate by completing this training and fulfilling additional requirements (see Additional Requirements for Certification below).
What is a naturalist?
A naturalist is an expert in or student of natural history. Naturalists are continuous learners, studying the natural world and learning about the different interconnections between wildlife and their habitats. Naturalists strive to connect people with nature by sharing their knowledge with others.
What is the Master Naturalist Program?
The University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. The Program educates and trains adult volunteers to help disseminate natural resource information to the public and to assist with conservation and restoration activities in their community. Learn more here.
What topics are covered?
The 20 hours of online coursework and 20 hours of in-person learning will cover the following topics:
- Introduction to the Illinois Master Naturalist Program
- Indigenous History of Northeast Illinois
- Basic Plant ID
- Basic Tree ID
- Native Plant ID
- Bird ID
- Illinois Amphibians and Reptiles
- Illinois Mammals
- Ecosystem Concepts
- Illinois’ Natural Landscapes
- Environmental Ethics and Philosophy
- Tallgrass Prairie Habitat
- Woodlands Habitat
- Wetlands Habitat
- Interpretive Techniques
Training in these topics will give you a well-rounded understanding of Illinois’ natural landscapes and the skills to share this understanding with others.