Master Naturalist chapter forming in western Illinois; applications due March 3

master naturalist

QUINCY — Within parks, streams, and native prairies, University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists volunteers serve as environmental stewards in their communities. Illinois Extension is relaunching a Master Naturalist chapter in western Illinois. The last training session was offered in 2016.

Interested individuals can protect and support Illinois natural areas and resources by signing up for the Western Illinois Master Naturalist training starting March 14. Illinois Extension is now accepting applications for the spring volunteer training.

In a press release, Western Illinois Master Naturalist coordinator 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. That flexibility means that together we’re able to help prevent the spread of invasive species, monitor the health of waterways, and restore prairies.”

Volunteer training will be held during select weekday evenings and select Saturdays from March 14 through May 16. The 12 hours of classroom instruction, 10 hours of self-study, and 19 hours of field work will introduce basic principles of the natural world and practical techniques for teaching about and managing natural areas. The training covers environmental topics and issues including ecology, botany, soil health, archaeology, urban environments, birds, fish, reptiles, mammals and more.

After graduating training, new volunteers will work toward completing volunteer service in local communities. Educational and outreach opportunities may include speaking to youth groups or school classrooms, creating educational guides for trails, coordinating invasive species removals, or monitoring wildlife species.

Applications are due March 3. The course schedule and applications are available online at Acceptance into the program requires a background check. The program fee is $125, which covers training, materials and field trips.

For more information, contact program coordinators Amy Lefringhouse or Kinsey Tiemann at 217-223-8380.

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