Master Naturalists

sunset sky with tree line silhouette and Illinois 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.
Conserve and protect natural resources

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. 

Take your love of nature to the next level


What Master Naturalists do

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

How to become a Master Naturalist

Next training

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 2024. 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 May of 2024. 

We also work with Morton Arboretum to combine our resources and provide an Intensive Master Naturalist Training. We plan to offer it again in August 2023. We will notify everyone on our Interest List when classes are scheduled.

Training and application process

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.

Please note: The quality of Extension programs and safety of our participants and the people we work with requires that the selection of volunteers be taken seriously, and that the organization works to recruit the best possible volunteers. Because of this, we do have an application and background screening process, which includes required forms. Read more here.