Serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties

oak tree leaves, cardinal bird, people in woods, Master Naturalist logo

We all have a responsibility to protect the natural resources in the places where we live in order to ensure our world is fit for the future. The University of Illinois Extension partners with local agencies to accomplish the Master Naturalist mission.

The local Master Naturalist program is designed to educate and train a corps of volunteers to provide support in the conservation, management, and interpretation of natural resources. The program provides science based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. 

The training will prepare volunteer Master Naturalists to more effectively participate in local environmental education and stewardship. They will learn about and may participate in citizen scientist activities. They will be able to share their knowledge, skills, and passion about the natural world with others so they also can become more engaged. Volunteer work includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assisting in natural areas management
  • Teaching adults or children about natural areas
  • Demonstrations and presentations to local groups
  • Act as a liaison between natural resource agencies and the public
  • Serving as a resource person to groups in need of natural resource assistance
  • Participate in citizen scientist activities

The next training session is tentatively scheduled for fall of 2020. Topics for training will be selected from the following: Ecological concepts, geology, archaeology, botany, forest ecology, grassland, ecology, ornithology, mammology, herpetology, entomology, wetlands and aquatic life. Initial training is approximately 40 hours of classroom and field trips.

Training update:

We hold Master Naturalist training classes every other year in our Yorkville office. The next training class is tentatively scheduled to begin in August of 2022. Generally classes are scheduled one evening a week for 10 sessions. You are invited to fill out the interest form to be notified when applications are being accepted. Notification will come via email in mid-May of 2022.

We also are working with Morton Arboretum to combine our resources and provide an Intensive Master Naturalist Training. The pilot program ran in 2019 and we hope to offer it again in 2021. We will notify everyone on our Interest List when classes are scheduled.

About the program:

The University of Illinois Master Naturalist program is designed to educate and train a corps of volunteers who specialize in conservation, management and interpretation of our natural resources. The program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.

About the training:

Training sessions are 6 to 9 p.m. one evening a week for 10 weeks, plus three weekend morning field trips. We anticipate that all classes will be held at the U of I Extension office in Yorkville and field trips will be to local forest preserves. Topics are presented by local experts and may include botany, herpetology, ornithology, prairies, soils, watersheds, and more. Master Naturalist volunteers are required to complete 40 hours of classroom and field education, in addition to 60 hours of volunteer time.

About the application process:

Applicants will be asked to fill out an application form and will be accepted as space allows. Once accepted into the program, a $350 fee is collected to cover classroom and field training, as well as the full-color Illinois Master Naturalist Manual. The class is open to residents of DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties, residents of other counties will be accepted into the program if space is available. You are invited to fill out the interest form to be notified when applications are being accepted.

To learn more, visit our local program website or the Illinois Master Naturalist website.