The Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Program is volunteer training program offered by University of Illinois Extension. East Central Illinois Master Naturalist is our local chapter of the program which includes volunteers from Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermillion counties.
Why Become a Master Naturalist?
Nature is everywhere, in your neighborhood, in your backyard, and in your house. Becoming more informed about the environment increases your appreciation of it, enriching your everyday life. As a naturalist, you can play an important role in sharing that world with others in your community. Community representation matters and we need volunteers from all walks of life. Join in and help us give folks the opportunity to experience nature, develop knowledge of and respect for the environment, and practice stewardship of the land.
What Qualifications Must I Meet?
Anyone can become a Master Naturalist - it does not require a degree or years of experience. You do, however, need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a desire to learn and share natural resource information within your community
- Be willing to devote time to volunteering and continuing education
- Have availability to complete 40 hours of volunteer training
Applications for the 2022 training class are now closed. This training is composed of self-guided study and nature hikes. We aim to host our next Master Naturalist training in 2023. Please apply to receive notifications for our next training.
Master Naturalist Volunteer Training Program participants have the opportunity to:
- learn about Central Illinois' natural history, ecosystems, plant and animal communities and environmental issues
- enhance your love of nature through hands-on training and community-based service
- practice lifelong learning and sharing
- build relationships with new acquaintances with similar interests
- give something back to nature and your local community
- learn from and work with local experts
Become a Certified Master Naturalist by following the steps below.
- Apply for the program online.
- Meet with the coordinator and submit the required documentation; Master Naturalist Photo Release, Master Naturalist Volunteer Agreement, Illinois DCFS Check Form, Risk and Release Form, and a Sterling Background check. Trainees must also complete a required Child Protection Course by the end of training. Not all background histories will disqualify folks from participating.
- Complete payment of $200 and receive the Master Naturalist Manual. Fee waivers are available.
- Attend Master Naturalist Training.
- Complete and report 60 hours of volunteer internship within 24 months of completing the training course.
- To remain certified, report an additional 30 hours of service and 10 hours of continuing education annually.
Would you like to get involved in behind the scenes planning and organizing? We need your help! Find out more about what we do and why it matters.
Volunteer with Local Partners
Champaign County Forest Preserve District
Champaign Park District
Urbana Park District
Allerton Park and Retreat Center
Grand Prairie Friends
Headwaters Invasive Plant Partnership
Land Conservation Foundation
Upper Sangamon River Conservancy