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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist: North Woods Great Lakes

Learn more about the amazing Great Lakes North Woods biome while exploring some of the many incredible sites showcasing the ecology, geology, and history of the area. You will have the opportunity to discover your connection to the natural history of the landscape and become a steward and a lifelong learner while connecting with kindred spirits and fellow nature lovers.

 Each week we will visit a unique site to illustrate the concepts we’ll be learning about, from wetlands to the Lake Superior shore, to wildlife study locations, forests and more. This course will feature some classroom instruction at the Cook County Community Center, but the majority of time will be spent on field experience along Lake Superior and throughout Cook County. From Grand Portage to Sugarloaf Cove, you will have a chance to see all that the shore has to offer, meet local experts, and watch as summer turns to brilliant fall colors. You’ll also be introduced to lots of great local volunteering sites.

Participants should expect to be outside in a wide range of environmental conditions (light rain, warm and cold temps, muddy conditions, etc.). Plan for hiking at field locations. Many locations will involve uneven terrain and gravel or dirt trails. Transportation to field sites must be arranged by participants and carpooling is encouraged. With further questions about expectations for hiking, accessibility notes, or weather conditions prior to registration, feel free to contact course instructors at swaddle@umn.edu.

All participants will complete a capstone project as part of graduation requirements. Attendance in all components of the course is required to earn certification as a Minnesota Master Naturalist.

  • The course will run from 12 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays from September 6 and ending October 25, 2023.
  • Field trips will take place on Saturday, September 23, and Saturday, October 14, 2023.


Potential and current Master Naturalist volunteers.


$295. Includes manuals and supplies.

If you would like to receive a scholarship do not register now. Instead, complete this scholarship form and wait to be contacted before enrolling.


Cancelation requests received more than two weeks before the start of class are refunded minus a $20 processing fee. Cancelation requests received less than two weeks before the start of class are refunded minus $50.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this course material is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to Julie Larson, larso143@umn.edu at least two weeks in advance.

About the North Woods, Great Lakes course

This core course's training is tailored to Minnesota’s unique Laurentian Mixed Forest biome. The largest biome of the state, it covers over 23 million acres of northeast Minnesota. The region contains a multitude of landscapes, including swampland, bogs, vast forests, lakes and exposed bedrock.

North Woods, Great Lakes covers topics of geology, glaciers, water, wildlife, humans, ecology, and botany using a variety of teaching techniques, ranging from lectures, classroom discussions, field trips, fieldwork, small group work and readings.

Participants must complete the full 40 hours of training to become a certified Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

Each participant must complete a group capstone project. Participants will choose a capstone that they can complete before finishing the course.

Learn more about Master Naturalist volunteer training

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