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Fall session of Naturalist Core Edcuation Training open for applications

group in the woods

LEWISTOWN, Ill. - University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit will be offering Naturalist Core Education (Master Naturalist) hybrid training this fall October 2-6, Monday – Friday, 9am to 3pm. Space is limited. To begin the application process, visit  or contact Christine Belless at  or call 309-547-3711. Deadline to register is September 18. Space is limited and registration will close once the class is full.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Naturalist Core Education Program is to provide science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.

The program educates and trains adult volunteers, so they are better equipped to share natural resource information with others in their communities and to assist with environmental conservation and restoration activities.  We all have a responsibility to protect the natural resources in the places where we live to ensure our world is "fit for the future."  The University of Illinois Extension collaborates with local agencies to accomplish the Illinois Master Naturalist mission.

Naturalist Core Education trainees participate in a minimum of 60 hours of initial in person and digital training. The classes will be held at various locations throughout the four-county area. Hybrid training will allow participants more time for independent study, viewing videos, visiting websites and related reading. A combination of classroom instruction and field study will be used to present topics such as Archaeology, Ornithology, Entomology, Herpetology, Mammals, Botany, Ecology, Urban environment, Geology, Soil, Forest, Prairies, and Wetlands.

Master Naturalist Volunteer Option

For those wanting to become an official Master Naturalist volunteer, the University of Illinois requires each applicant to complete an application, background screening paperwork and schedule an interview with Extension Program Coordinator, Christine Belless. The fee to participate is $250 and covers classroom sessions, field training, handouts, and the Master Naturalist manual. Upon completion of Naturalist Core Education, graduates who have selected the volunteer option, will become Master Naturalist Interns and have 2 years to complete 60 volunteer service hours to become Active Master Naturalist. To continue as an Active Master Naturalist volunteers must fulfill 30 volunteer hour and 10 continuing education hours annually.   

Education Only Option

For individuals who only want to attend Naturalist Core Education for their personal or professional enrichment, but do not want to volunteer, the fee is $250, covering classroom sessions, field training, handouts, and the Master Naturalist manual. The education only participants will also need to complete an application and schedule an interview with Extension Program Coordinator, Christine Belless.

Applications, screening paperwork, interviews, and course fee, must be received by September 18.

For more information about University of Illinois Extension Illinois Naturalist Core Education, contact Christine Belless, Extension Program Coordinator,  Fulton County Extension, 15411 N IL 100 Hwy, Lewistown, IL 61542 or call 309.547.3711.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event listed in this news release, contact your local Extension office.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.