Master Naturalist Training at DSAC

University of Illinois Extension Submitted by: Bronwyn Aly, Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms


As you read the headline for this article, you may have thought, “Master Naturalist, what is a Master Naturalist? I have heard of Master Gardeners but not Master Naturalists.” The University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. The Master Naturalist training program is designed to educate and train a corps of volunteers to provide support in the conservation, management, and interpretation of the region’s natural resources.
Those interested in taking the Master Naturalist training will learn basic principles about the natural world; attain an understanding of the interdependent nature of the plants and animals in the various ecosystems of Illinois; learn about animals specific to Illinois such as mammals, insects, reptiles, fish, and birds; learn practical techniques for both teaching about and managing natural areas; and more.
The Master Naturalist program is a combination of education and service. With the help of local experts, University of Illinois Extension provides the educational support for the program, while the service is often done at one of the participating partner’s locations. Each Master Naturalist participates in at least 40 hours of initial training. Once training is completed, Master Naturalists are involved in many different projects to complete their 60 hours of volunteer internship.
A world of opportunity opens up once someone completes the Master Naturalist training. Master Naturalist are often asked by local agencies to participate in natural resource related activities throughout southern Illinois, including: citizen scientist activities, assisting in the management of local natural areas, completing natural resource related office work with special interest groups or not-for-profit agencies, talking to adults or children about natural areas, giving demonstrations and presentations to local groups, serving as a liaison between natural resource agencies and the public, or serving as a resource person to groups in need of natural resource assistance. Another way to get a better understanding of the type of activities local Master Naturalist are involved with, visit the Southern Illinois Master Naturalist Facebook page.
The University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist training classes will be held every Tuesday from August 23rd through November 8th from 8:30am till 4:00pm at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, 354 State Highway 145 N, Simpson, IL 62985. There will be a handful of field trips scheduled on different days for hands-on training but these are optional and don’t count toward the 40 hours of training.
Because space is limited for this training and will fill up fast, applications and registration must be turned in by August 1, 2016. The cost for the Master Naturalist training is $250 and includes the Master Naturalist manual, all 10 sessions of the classroom and field training, handouts, and posters. Applications can be found online at or contact the Extension office and we will be happy to mail you the forms.
For more information, please contact:
Bronwyn Aly –, 618-382-2662