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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist: Prairies and Potholes

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River Bend Nature Center
1000 Rustad Road
Faribault, MN 55021


River Bend Nature Center, 507-332-7151 or info@rbnc.org

We are excited to invite you to join us for a Prairies and Potholes Minnesota Master Naturalist Class, summer camp style at River Bend Nature Center. RNBC is situated on the Straight River, with 743 acres of beautiful maple-basswood forest, prairie and wetlands. Just under an hour south of the Twin Cities, it is the perfect spot for a week of learning, community building and fun. 

This week-long course will include a little bit of everything - a chance to learn about the Prairies and Potholes biome, to connect with others who enjoy the outdoors, and a chance to get outside with activities that are accessible for all activity and mobility levels. We will spend time in the classroom, outside exploring River Bend and will take a couple of field trips to discover the geology, plants and animals, aquatic systems and human history that make up and help shape Minnesota's tallgrass prairie ecosystems.

In addition to the 40 hour course, participants will dive a little deeper into a project in their area of interest. Completion of the course and capstone project will be achieved before graduation.

Contact River Bend Nature Center at 507-332-7151 or email info@rbnc.org with any questions.

The course will meet Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  July 31 through August 4.

This course fullfills the requirement for becoming a Master Naturalist volunteer. A capstone project is expected of participants, as well as the commitment to volunteer for 40 hours during the year.


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 of the course start date.

About the Prairies and Potholes course

The official name for the ecological province called the Prairies and Potholes by the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is the Prairie Parkland Province. This biome was historically composed mainly of tallgrass prairie. Today it is used for agricultural purposes. The glaciers deposited between 100 and 600 feet of drift over the entire region. The Prairies and Potholes biome covers just over 16 million acres on the western edge of the state.

The biome is a hot and dry place, where evapotranspiration is annually higher than precipitation. In the northern portions of the biome, glacial kettles have filled with water and form the "potholes" that dot the landscape. These bodies of water are important for migratory waterfowl, and waterfowl production. The Minnesota River now flows through the old channel carved by Glacial River Warren, an outlet for Glacial Lake Agassiz.

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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