Connect with natural world by becoming an Illinois Master Naturalist; applications due March 20

master naturalist training

Master Naturalists Erin Fink and Madeline Davis participate in a fish sampling demonstration on the Mississippi River near Nauvoo during the 2023 Illinois Master Naturalist course. The demonstration was led by WIU staff from Alice L. Kibbe Life Science Research Station in Warsaw. | Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Extension

QUINCY — Within parks, streams and native prairies, University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists serve as environmental stewards in their communities. Master Naturalists in west-central Illinois volunteered more than 460 hours in 2023. Illinois Extension is now opening registration for the next training slated for this spring. The course begins April 3.

In a press release, Natural Resource Extension educator Amy Lefringhouse said, “Master Naturalist volunteers put in thousands of hours each year throughout the state supporting the environmental issues they are most passionate about. Together we’re able to help prevent the spread of invasive species, plant and restore native prairies and educate community members on everything from Illinois bats to Illinois trees.”

Volunteer training will be held during select Wednesday nights and select Saturdays from April 3 through June 13. The program includes 12 hours of classroom instruction, 10 hours of self-study and 19 hours of fieldwork to introduce basic principles of the natural world and practical techniques for teaching about and managing natural areas. The training covers environmental topics including ecology, botany, soil health, prairies, rivers and streams, birds, fish, reptiles, mammals and more. 

“Connecting to others who share a love for nature and learning from natural resource professionals are highlights for the course,” said Kinsey Tiemann, the program’s local coordinator. “Participants gain behind the scenes access to local nature areas.”

Applications are due March 20. The course schedule and applications are available online at go.illinois.edu/WCILMasterNaturalist. Acceptance into the program requires a background check. The program fee is $175, which covers training, Master Naturalist manual, and field trips.

For more information, contact Lefringhouse or Tiemann at 217-223-8380.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact Lefringhouse at 217-223-8380.

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