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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist

A woman crouching while she plants something in a field.
A group of people in a canoe on a lake.
A naturalist holds a snake while a young child touches it.

Our mission

The mission of the Minnesota Master Naturalist program is to promote awareness, understanding and stewardship of Minnesota’s natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities.

Everyday advocates for Minnesota’s natural environment

While there are many scientists and specialists studying environmental problems that face our planet, the size of the task is truly formidable. Ordinary people, however, make significant contributions toward improving and protecting our natural environment. In Minnesota, everyday citizens gain in-depth understanding of nature and have access to professionals in environmental science through the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

“I had a renewed focus for my love of nature and learned of places where I could experience first-hand the natural world.”

— Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteer

The Minnesota Master Naturalist program was created in 2005 with a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The program benefits the state of Minnesota through direct environmental service and by educating Minnesota’s citizens about its natural resources. Master Naturalists are trained to be stewards of our natural environment and to teach these skills to others.

Master Naturalists volunteer with science-based projects such as monitoring monarch butterfly larvae, managing invasive species, bird banding and evaluating stream ecology. These citizen scientists do real-world field work that helps University of Minnesota Extension researchers and natural resources professionals assess changes in natural habitats and environments.

Something for everyone

Hikers, bird watchers, phenologists and wildflower lovers enjoy being Master Naturalist volunteers. Staff from nature centers, environmental organizations, state parks and wildlife refuges are trained as Minnesota Master Naturalist instructors. These local instructors teach the initial volunteer training course as well as lead continuing education initiatives for Master Naturalist volunteers.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist program allows volunteers across the state to engage in locally based natural resource projects with like-minded volunteers to make our state a better place to live, work and play.

You don’t have to become a volunteer to learn about Minnesota’s natural resources. All Minnesotans can get involved by attending Master Naturalist-led workshops and excursions. Keep an eye on our event schedule for your next environmental adventure!

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