UTICA - If you love being outdoors and enjoy sharing your passion with others, the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Volunteer Program is for you. The Master Naturalist Program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become active environmental stewards.
Volunteers with the Master Naturalist Program have opportunities to explore and expand their understanding of the natural world, provide educational outreach, and assist with environmental stewardship projects working with local U of I Extension partners.
This year, Extension is partnering with Starved Rock State Park to offer volunteer training starting in the fall. Space is limited and registration will close on Aug. 23 or when the class is full. Preference will be given to residents of Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties.
The training will cover numerous subjects including Geology, Archaeology, Botany, Wetlands, Ornithology, Forests of Illinois, and Entomology to name a few. Sessions will be held one day a week over the course of 10 weeks, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 3 to Nov. 5. Classroom time will be spent at the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center. During the training, field trips to natural areas for hands-on learning will be visited including Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, Dayton Bluffs, Nachusa Grasslands, and Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.
Volunteers who complete the training session this fall will then work on Extension approved environmental stewardship and educational outreach projects with other Master Naturalists and local partners. In order to maintain Master Naturalist certification, volunteers must complete 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of approved service work in the local area annually. University of Illinois Extension provides ongoing training and coordinates regular meetings to support Master Naturalist volunteers.
Adults aged 18 and over are welcome to register. The cost for Master Naturalist training to become a certified volunteer is $250. For more information or to sign up for the training, visit https://go.illinois.edu/2019mntraining or call Meg Overocker, program coordinator, at (815) 433-0707.