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Brigit Holt
Program Coordinator, Master Naturalist
University of Illinois Extension
4747 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 601
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone: 708-679-6889
FAX: 708-679-6855

Master Naturalists in Cook County

Master Naturalists in Cook County

2. How do I become a Master Naturalist?

How Do I Become a Master Naturalist?

You become a Master Naturalist by joining a class, completing the training, passing the end-of-class test, and providing volunteer hours to the Master Naturalist program and/or its sponsors and partners.

When is 2017 Training?

Training for 2017 will consist of 10-12 sessions beginning in August. Classes will be on FRIDAYS and will be conducted between 9:30AM and 4:00PM.  Class locations include locations throughout the Cook County region.  Locations may include Forest Preserves of Cook County Nature Centers, Environmental Education Centers and local museums throughout Cook County.  Applications will be made available on January 15, 2017 and will close on April 15, 2017.

What Is the Cost and What Will I Learn?

You will be asked to pay a fee to help cover the cost of materials and training. The fee for the 2017 training is $300. This will include the Master Naturalist manual filled with helpful resources and reference publications. Thanks to the support of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, a waiver is offered for the cost of the manual.  This leaves a $175 out of pocket cost for participants. During the training program, you'll learn about many different facets of the natural world.

A combination of classroom instruction and demonstrations is used to present information about topics such as:



Geology and Soil








Reptiles and Fish

Urban Environment




OK, What Steps Should I Take?

Apply for Master Naturalist training, which usually occurs once a year in the fall. The application process includes a mandatory informational session followed by a 15-minute informal, and an in-person interview with current Master Naturalists. Upon acceptance into the program, you must attend approximately 70 hours of classroom instruction and field study. These sessions are typically offered one day a week over a two-month period and are led by expert educators in the region. Upon completion of the class, a comprehensive, open-book exam based on the classroom instruction will be taken.  Then, as an intern Master Naturalists Complete at least 60 volunteer hours during the next 12 month period (the first 60 of which must be within the Forest Preserves of Cook County).   To maintain your certification in subsequent years, you must complete 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of volunteer activities annually.