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Master Naturalist Intensive Training

Schedule and Location


Online components and the manual will be available beginning July 29.
Four days, Saturday through Tuesday, August 10 through 13, 2019, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cudahy, Administration Building

Fees and Registration

$245.00 member
$285.00 nonmember (Fees include admission to the Arboretum
Participants wishing to pursue certification must also pay a $25 administrative fee and purchase the Illinois Master Naturalist Manual for $125.
Please note: If you are interested in pursuing certification, you must enroll by July 19. Non-certificate enrollment closes July 28.
If you have any questions please call the registrar at: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course Description

Gain the knowledge and skills you need to share the natural world with others in this intensive workshop format.  Through a combination of online coursework, classroom instruction, and field time, you will:

  • Gain an understanding of Illinois natural history, including its geology, plants, and wildlife
  • Learn the fundamentals of botany, ecology, and conservation
  • Enhance your love of nature by spending time on the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres, including its prairie, woodland, and wetland habitats
  • Participate in guided hikes to learn about native trees, birds, wildflowers, and more
  • Develop interpretive skills so you can educate and inspire others
  • Learn from expert instructors and build your network in the naturalist community

Who is this training for?

This program is great for teachers, natural areas stewards, students (age 18+) who are interested in pursuing a career in the outdoors, and those working in informal nature education. There are two ways to benefit from this program:

  • Grow your skills as a naturalist by simply completing this training.
  • Pursue the Master Naturalist Certificate by completing this training and fulfilling additional requirements (see Additional Requirements for Certification below).

What is a naturalist?

A naturalist is an expert in or student of natural history. They are continuous learners, studying the natural world and learning about the different interconnections between wildlife and their habitats. Naturalists strive to connect people with nature by sharing their knowledge with others.

What is the Master Naturalist Program?

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 Program educates and trains adult volunteers to help disseminate natural resource information to the public and to assist with conservation and restoration activities in their community. Learn more here.

What topics are covered?

The 10 hours of online coursework and 32 hours of in-person learning will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to the Illinois Master Naturalist Program
  • Ecosystem Concepts (Online)
  • Overview of the Illinois Landscape
  • Soils of Illinois
  • Environmental Ethics and Philosophy
  • Ecology of the Tallgrass Prairie (Online)
  • Woodland Ecology (Online)
  • Wetland Ecology
  • Basic Plant ID (Online)
  • Illinois Wildlife
  • Interpretive Techniques

Training in these topics will give you a well-rounded understanding of Illinois’ natural world and the skills to share this understanding with others.

Course number


Course Details

Additional Requirements for Certification:
For those that wish to earn a Master Naturalist Certificate from the University of Illinois Extension, please read these requirements carefully.  To pursue a certificate, you must:

  • Register by July 19th.
  • Choose “Master Naturalist Certification” at checkout ($25 administrative fee).
  • Purchase the Illinois Master Naturalist manual ($125) during the checkout process. You may pick up your manual at The Morton Arboretum on/after July 29th.
  • Complete an application process, which includes a criminal background check. The application will be sent by email from the Extension office in late July/early August.
  • Complete this training course, which satisfies the 40-hour training requirement.
  • Complete nightly reading assignments (approx 1 hour per night) and submit a final project entailing a script or video of a 10-minute talk on a naturalist topic of your choosing. Details will be provided the first day of class.
  • Complete 60 hours of volunteer work within two years of enrollment, which must be coordinated through the Extension office.


  • If you are interested in pursuing certification, you must enroll by July 19.
  • Non-certificate enrollment closes July 28.
  • If you do not wish to pursue certification, you may still purchase the manual, though it is not required.
  • Some coursework is online; access to a computer is required.
  • Onsite classes held indoors and outdoors. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Refreshments provided, lunch is on your own.
  • Limit 20

Recommended Text: All participants, whether pursuing the certificate or not, may wish to purchase a copy of Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas by Dick Young, available here and here.
Required Text: Illinois Master Naturalist Manual ($125) is required for those pursuing certification. It is optional for all other participants. Place your order for this manual during check out.
Arboretum class weather, cancellation and refund policies