Master Naturalists

Master Naturalist volunteer opening blue bird box in a prairie.

University of Illinois Extension's Illinois Master Naturalist Program is designed for adults who love the natural environment and want to have a positive impact on it. The goal of the program is to engage participants with the natural world and encourage them to seek lifelong learning opportunities to further their development as a naturalist.

The Glacier's Edge Master Naturalists of DeWitt, Macon and Piatt counties have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about Illinois' natural history, habitats, ecosystems and environmental issues
  • Enhance your love of nature through hands-on training and community-based service
  • Practice lifelong learning and sharing
  • Interact and build relationships with new acquaintances with similar interests
  • Give something back to nature and your local community
  • Learn from and work side-by-side with experts


    The 11 week Master Naturalist training is held annually and consists of a minimum of 32 hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of fieldwork. To become a certified Master Naturalist you must complete 60 hours of volunteer service within two years. To remain active in the program, an additional 30 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education must be performed annually. 

    Training will include sessions on:

    • Ecological Concepts
    • Geology, Soils, and Ecology of Illinois
    • Weather & Climate
    • Botany & Zoology
    • Forest, Aquatic Systems, Wetland, and Prairie Ecology & Management
    • Urban Systems
    • Interpretation & Teaching

    The course fee is $150. This fee covers classroom and field learning, assistance in finding a volunteer position and continuing-education events and opportunities. Participants may be eligible for partial fee waivers.


    Glacier's Edge Master Naturalists frequently volunteer at the Macon County Conservation District, the Decatur Audobon Society, Scovill Zoo, Allerton Park and more. Generally, volunteer work is done in the community, but need not be limited to local programming efforts. Most volunteer work will be done outside the Extension office. Many projects may involve interaction with parks and recreation departments, nursing homes, schools, county or city agencies, and other civic organizations.

    Educational Efforts

    This includes presentations at demonstration, fairs, and to identified audiences, such as environmental clubs, school groups, homeowner associations, and church groups. This also includes training of other volunteers, such as other Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, Boy Scouts, civic groups, or other identified groups of volunteers. 

    Non-educational Programming

    Design, installation, upkeep, and maintenance of public or demonstration community service projects must contribute to the goals and mission of the Extension program.

    Professional Development

    The Master Naturalist Program is eligible for Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDU).