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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist: Prairies and Potholes

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Saint John's Outdoor University
2945 Abbey Plaza
Collegeville, MN 56321


John Geissler, 320-363-3126 or jgeissler001@csbsju.edu

Join experienced and enthusiastic instructors at Saint John's Outdoor University, a beautiful 3,000 acre outdoor classroom. This immersive 40-hour course is a great introduction to the prairies and potholes of Minnesota. Beginners welcome!

Late summer is a great time of year to study native grasses and wildflowers, landscape formations, insects, birds, and more. Final certification comes with the completion of a small group capstone project. Individuals interested may not register for single programs—the training is intended for those committed to attending all meetings listed.

  • The course will run from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, August 7-11, 2023.


$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.

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 & 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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