6021 Development Drive, Suite 2, Charleston, IL 61920 info@colescountyswcd.org 217-345-3901 ext. 3

Master Naturalist Program Coming to Coles County

The Illinois Extension’s Master Naturalist Program is coming to Coles County! If you are an adult who loves the outdoors, has a concern for the local environment and wants to provide education and service to help your local community this program might be for you! You do not need to have a college degree or years of experience, just a sincere desire to learn and share information about nature and be willing to devote time to volunteering and on-going training.

The Illinois Master Naturalist program connects people with nature and helps them become engaged environmental stewards by providing science-based educational and volunteer opportunities. With the help of local experts, University of Illinois Extension educates and trains a corps of volunteers to provide support in the conservation, management, and interpretation of the area’s natural resources. The classes will be held in a variety of locations, but many of them will be presented at Douglas-Hart Nature Center. Topics relate to local natural areas and may include Botany, Environmental Ethics, Soils, Forestry, Geology, Prairies, Mammals, Birds, Wetlands, and Aquatics. Training sessions include lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, and field trips. 

After training, volunteering is typically coordinated through local partners, including Douglas-Hart Nature Center, Grand Prairie Friends, etc. In Extension Unit 19, the Illinois Master Naturalist program includes projects and partners in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties. Potential participants must complete an application and background check and participate in an informal interview/orientation. 

Training will be held on Tuesday evenings from August 13th through October 15th, with occasional field trips or weekend dates possible. The application deadline is August 2nd. The fee covering the classrooms and field training, handouts and the Master Naturalist manual is $150. For more information, please visit https://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/MN/