The Cook County Master Naturalist program is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension Cook County and Forest Preserves of Cook County. These organizations fund Cook County Master Naturalists in order to educate and train adult volunteers to help disseminate natural resource information to the public and to assist with conservation activities in Cook County.
Cook County Master Naturalists is an extension of the University of Illinois State Master Naturalists Program.
With more than 69,000 acres, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, is the largest forest preserve district in the United States. It receives an estimated 40 million visits each year, providing an escape into a world teeming with wildlife and rich with outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities. Within its boundaries are rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world.
This natural heritage offers something for everyone:
- Oak woodlands and savannas
- Tallgrass prairies
- Native wetlands
- Migratory fly-ways that afford spectacular birding
- 22 dedicated nature preserves
- 40 managed lakes and ponds
- 7 major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked and offer glimpses of waterfowl and shorebirds
- 300 miles of marked trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing
- Scenic spots for painting, photography, or quiet reflection
Current volunteer openings are posted on the Forest Preserve of Cook County Volunteer website. Volunteer opportunities include trail stewardship, work days to maintain natural areas, and assistance with both historical and environmental education.
University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of Illinois. U of I Extension's programs are aimed at making life better, healthier, safer and more profitable for individuals and their communities. U of I Extension serving Cook County offers educational programs related to healthy society, food safety, environmental stewardship, sustainable and profitable food production, SNAP education, and enhancing family and community well-being.
The Cook County Unit directly services Cook County and sponsors Cook County Master Naturalists.