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Mary Nelson
Program Coordinator, Ag and Natural Resources - Whiteside County
University of Illinois Extension
12923 Lawrence Road
Sterling, IL 61081
Phone: 815-632-3611
FAX: 815-716-8922
mnelsn25@illinois.edu

Master Naturalist

Master Naturalist

Accent photo

The pines exude an earthy, familiar scent..above is the brilliant blue sky with its white whirling puffy clouds moving slowly by. I feel quiet inside, at the same time joyful that I am in this moment on the green, soft grass under a pine tree under the sun in the sky.

The University of Illinois Extension—Master Naturalist Program is designed for adults of any age that desire the opportunity to learn about and positively impact our local environment.

The goal of the program is not to teach you "everything there is to know" about the subjects being covered, but to give you an engaging exposure to the natural world--one that encourages you to seek out lifelong learning opportunities to further your development as a naturalist.

Master Naturalist Program participants have the opportunity to:

  • learn about Northern Illinois' natural history, ecosystems, plant and animal communities and environmental issues,
  • enhance your love of nature through hands-on training and community-based service,
  • practice lifelong learning and sharing,
  • interact and build relationships with new acquaintances with similar interests,
  • give something back to nature and your local community,
  • and learn from and work side-by-side with experts.

Master Naturalists agree to complete 40 hours of field and classroom learning during the training and 60 hours volunteer service within two years to become a Certified Master Naturalist. To remain active in the program, an additional 30 hours volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education must be performed yearly.

Please note that Master Naturalist volunteer opportunities are extremely flexible and are tailored to fit your personal interests, abilities and time restraints. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Program Coordinator Mary Nelson at (815) 632-3611.

University of Illinois Extension is offering Master Naturalist training this spring.  The six-week sessions will run Tuesdays and Thursdays from  5-9 PM starting March 20.  Come explore the natural world and learn what it means to be a naturalist.  


For more information, please contact Mary Nelson @ 815/632-3611; mnelsn25@illinois.edu