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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist: Prairies and Potholes

Event information



Central time


Online course


Amy Rager, 320-589-1711 or rager001@umn.edu

Online (AM Section)

Join us for an online Prairies & Potholes Minnesota Master Naturalist Course. There is a Morning and Evening session; you will be able to choose the session you want when you pay.

In this class you will learn about fascinating geology, plant and animal communities, shallow lakes and fens, ecology and human interactions of the tallgrass prairie biome. Travel through the transition from summer into fall on the prairie. The course will meet every Wednesday for 1.5 hours online via Zoom, with interaction, discussion groups and presentations. There will be individual outdoor explorations assigned between classes, and one REQUIRED field trip day at Lac qui Parle Area.

Class will cover the same topics (geology, water, botany, wildlife, humans, interpretation) as an in-person class, but will take place online, using Zoom for class meetings and the learning platform Canvas.

  • The course will run from 9:30 to 11 a.m . on Thursdays, July 13 to September 21, 2023.
  • Field trips will be held on September 8 or 9 (you choose).

Participants will be required to complete a capstone service project as part of the course, participate in weekly assignments in Canvas (online learning platform), textbook readings and all assignments. Students are expected to be at all online sessions and the field trip, but we do understand that people are busy, and you can miss up to two sessions (must watch recording) and still complete the course successfully.

Books and supplies will be sent directly to you before class begins. Outside of class time participants will spend approximately 2 hours per week completing assignments such as reading the text, viewing lecture videos, researching on the internet, visiting a nature location near your home, and completing journal entries.

In order to fully participate in this online class, you will need to have access to technology that allows you to access Zoom, Canvas and other internet locations as directed in class. You may use a tablet, desktop computer, laptop, or a cell phone. The experience will be best on the largest screen possible, so a desktop or laptop is best. You will need to have a working webcam and microphone on this device. Good internet connection is important. Technical skills required for this course include: ability to access Zoom (including breakout rooms), Canvas, Padlet, Google Slides. Ability to mute and unmute yourself. Ability to open and view multiple windows simultaneously. The July 13 meeting is a tech check for you to confirm that all of your (and our) technology works for you as expected, and to help you with any technical issues. 


$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 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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