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  • A Nature Journal Blog
    Experience the natural world with east central Illinois master naturalists
  • The Garden Scoop Blog
    The Garden Scoop is a collection of reflections about the Master Gardeners in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion.
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    Crop, Stock and Ledger covers a variety of agricultural and natural resources issues.

Contact Us

Ryan Pankau
Extension Educator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
801 North Country Fair Drive
Suite D
Champaign, IL 61821
Phone: 217-333-7672
FAX: 217-333-7683

East Central Illinois Master Naturalists

East Central Illinois Master Naturalists

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3. Our Sponsors

The East-Central Illinois Master Naturalist (ECIMN) program is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension Champaign County, Champaign County Forest Preserve District, and Urbana Park District. These organizations fund ECIMN in order to educate and train adult volunteers to help disseminate natural resource information to the public and to assist with conservation activities in East-Central Illinois.

University of Illinois Extension, Champaign County

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of Illinois. U of I Extension's programs are aimed at making life better, healthier, safer and more profitable for individuals and their communities. U of I Extension offers educational programs related to healthy society, food safety, environmental stewardship, sustainable and profitable food production, and enhancing family and community well-being.

The Champaign County Unit directly services Champaign County and sponsors ECIMN.

801 North Country Fair Drive, Suite D
Champaign, IL 61821
Phone: 217-333-7672
FAX: 217-333-7683

Current Champaign County Extension Program Areas include:

  • Ag and Natural Resources
  • Children, Families, and Seniors
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Horticulture and Environment
  • Money Management
  • Nutrition and Health
  • Schools Online

Sandy Mason is the Unit Educator for Horticulture and Environment, the program area that includes both the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs.

For more information on University of Illinois Extension Champaign County, please visit their website at:

Champaign County Forest Preserve District

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD) is a local, property tax-supported government agency charged with the stewardship of five forest preserves covering 3,899 acres in Champaign County. These preserves provide visitors with the chance to hike, canoe, swim, fish, and observe wildlife.

The forest preserves include:

  • Lake of the Woods
  • Middle Fork River Forest Preserve
  • Homer Lake Forest Preserve
  • River Bend Forest Preserve
  • Sangamon River Forest Preserve

Some of the more popular features across these preserves include:

  • Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden
  • Lake of the Woods Golf Course
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Early American Museum
  • Middle Fork Campground

Current volunteer openings are posted on the website. Volunteer opportunities include trail stewardship, work days to maintain natural areas, and assistance with both historical and environmental education programs. Kristin Tetzlaff is the volunteer coordinator for CCFPD.

Trail Stewardship

For nature lovers trail stewarding is the perfect activity. You can do it on your own time (the commitment is once a month for a year), with family, friends, and pets, and the only "work" involved enhances your hand-eye coordination. You see trash, you pick it up. You find branches on the trail, you toss them into the woods. You find large trees across the trail, you report them. If you're lucky to find only a few stems of evil invasive plants, you pull them up or lop them off. When you find large infestations of those same exotics, you report them. If you find something odd or unusual or interesting, you report it. The report is very streamlined (paper or online). The payoff is some quality time in nature (for Master Naturalists it's also a great service to the Champaign County Forest Preserve District or Allerton Park. Happy Hiking!

For more information about the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, please visit their website at:

Urbana Park District

The Urbana Park District (UPD), located in Urbana, Illinois, maintains parks and facilities and offers recreation programs for Urbana citizens. With 22 parks comprising nearly 600 acres and hundreds of programs, there are many activities to enrich the community.

The UPD preserves the following natural areas available for hiking and plant and wildlife appreciation:

  • Busey Woods
  • Meadowbrook Prairie
  • Perkins Road Wet Prairie
  • Weaver Park

The Anita Purves Nature Center, located at the north end of Crystal Lake Park, is an environmental education facility open free to the public. Next door you'll find Busey Woods, a 59-acre forest preserve with a boardwalk loop, seasonal ponds and more. The Anita Purves Nature Center offers a variety of environmental education programs and services to area educators. Programs include school tours, naturalist in the classroom, and educational loan kits.

Located in south Urbana, Meadowbrook Park features a farmstead, herb garden, 80 acres of recreated Illinois Tallgrass prairie, the Timpone Ornamental Tree Grove, organic garden plots, a sensory garden, a shade garden, hard and soft walking trails, the District's largest play structure and the Wandell Sculpture Garden.

The Urbana Park District uses volunteers in many of its programs and facilities. Opportunities include school tours, work days to maintain natural areas, seed collection and native plantings, invasive species eradication, and assistance with park events. Contact the Park District Development Manager at (217) 367-1536 for more details.

For more information about the Urbana Park District, please visit their website at: