What are the Master Naturalists up to?
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 training is held annually and consists of a minimum of 32 hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of fieldwork. You must complete 60 hours of volunteer service within two years to become certified. 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 and Climate
- Botany and Zoology
- Forest, Aquatic Systems, Wetland, and Prairie Ecology and Management
- Urban Systems
- Interpretation and Teaching
The course fee is $150. 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.
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.
Design, installation, upkeep, and maintenance of public or demonstration community service projects must contribute to the goals and mission of the Extension program.