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Grow Your Connection with Nature as an Illinois Master Naturalist

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. – Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Do you have a passion for giving back to your community? The Illinois Master Naturalist volunteer training program is looking for individuals to become engaged environmental stewards in southern Illinois.

We believe in fostering connections between our local communities and the outdoors and we strive to grow a new generation of learners connected to the natural world, all while providing an avenue for personal growth and fulfillment.

University of Illinois Extension will be hosting a hybrid training program in early 2022 for the next cohort of Master Naturalists. The training consists of science-based educational opportunities offered through a combination of self-paced assignments and in-person activities and discussions. Class sessions are taught by regional experts in the field on topics such as ecology, invasive species, mammals, birds, forestry, geology, and much more.

In-person classes will be held on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon every other week from January 27 to April 21. The classes will be held at the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center in Cypress, Ill. Field trips and guided hikes will be held every other Saturday from February 12 to April 23. We will visit various locations throughout southern Illinois. Participants are expected to attend all in-person activities. Masking and social distancing will be required.

Following the training, participants complete a 60-hour volunteer internship to become certified as Master Naturalists within two years. After certification, volunteers continue learning and volunteering to remain active Master Naturalists by completing 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of volunteering each year.

Volunteer opportunities are numerous in the area, including delivering educational programs at local state or federal parks and refuges, participating in trash blasts and invasive species pulls, restoring land through tree planting, or collecting data as a citizen scientist.

Applications are due January 14, and can be found online at https://extension.illinois.edu/fjprw/master-naturalists under the steps for joining tab. Acceptance into the program will require a mandatory background check and an informal Zoom interview. The program has a $250 fee, covering the cost of training and a Master Naturalist manual. If you have questions about the program, contact Program Coordinator Maggie Ray at mro@illinois.edu or (618) 687-1727.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any of our programs, please contact your local county extension office. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.