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Nancy Kuhajda
Program Coordinator, Master Gardeners
University of Illinois Extension
100 Manhattan Road
Joliet, IL 60433
Phone: 815-727-9296
FAX: 815-727-9364

Mariana Maldonado
Office Support Associate
University of Illinois Extension
100 Manhattan Road
Joliet, IL 60433
Phone: 815-727-9296
FAX: 815-727-9364

Will County Master Naturalists

Will County Master Naturalists

What is the Master Naturalist Program?

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program is to provide science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. Our vision is to give individuals the opportunity to experience nature, develop knowledge of and respect for the environment, and practice natural resource stewardship.

The Master Naturalist Program provides opportunities for adult volunteers to learn about their state's environmental, natural history and conservation issues.

The Master Naturalist is a volunteer-based program in which interested adults received a minimum of 40 hours of training and subsequently donate 60 hours of volunteer time back to their community.

Why is there a Master Naturalist Program?

There has never been a greater need for a program that addresses the issues of environmental sustainablity and stewardship in a state that is undergoing increasing urbanization, changing demographics, shifting land use, and decreasing resources for natural areas. There is also a decline in outdoor recreational and educational activity.

Who can participate in the Master Naturalist Program?

The program is designed for adults, 18 years and older, who are interested in lifelong learning and stewardship of local natural resources.

You do not have to have a degree or background in natural resources. You need to have an interest in learning about the natural world and an interest in sharing that knowledge with others. You also need to be willing to devote time to volunteering and continuing education.

What does the Master Naturalist Training involve?

Classes are held one day a week over a twelve week period plus two additional field trips. Participants receive a minimum of 40 hours of both classroom and hands on field training, so participants experience and practice what they learn immediately.

Classes are led by Extension Staff, regional scientists, and educators from partnering agencies.

What volunteer activities do Master Naturalists do?

There are many ways to fulfill your 60 hours of Master Naturalist volunteer commitment. Some examples include:

  • Assisting with prairie restoration
  • Controlling invasive species
  • Maintaining natural trails in a county forest preserve
  • Assisting at a nature center with a native plant garden
  • Leading school/community groups on interpretive nature hikes
  • Collecting data on wildlife populations or water quality
  • Sharing information about natural resources at community events

When is the next training?

Good News! Will County just announced a new Master Naturalist Training is scheduled to begin Friday, February 28, 2014. Training will be held on consecutive Fridays from February 28  through May 9. Registration is ongoing. Contact Nancy Kuhajda, Will County Extension Program Coordinator, at or (815) 727-9296 if you are interested in receiving an application.