People interested in learning to become a Master Naturalist can apply for a training program through the University of Illinois.
Several University of Illinois Extension offices, including offices in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties, are accepting applications for the volunteer program. Accepted applicants will learn the ecology of forests and grasslands, streams and wetlands, and get hands-on experience about plants, insects, frogs, toads, snakes, birds and mammals through a combination of science-based education and volunteer service.
Through the program, participants will gain an appreciation of the physical and human context of the environment through sessions on anthropology and environmental ethics.
The Extension units provide educational support while the partners offer opportunities for volunteer service with the help of local experts.
Master naturalists must contribute 60 hours of volunteer service the first year and 30 volunteer hours each of the following years that they are in the program. Master Naturalist programs partner with local nature agencies to provide volunteer opportunities.
There is a $250 fee for the program which covers classroom sessions and field training, handouts, and the Master Naturalist manual.
For more information about the program and application and to ask about scholarships, contact University of Illinois Extension at web.extension.illinois.edu and click on "Find an Office." A list of current programs can be found at web.extension.illinois.edu/mn/.