Q and A

What is the Missouri Master Naturalist Program?

The Missouri Master Naturalist Program is a "chapter-based" community-based natural resource volunteer educational program sponsored by MU Extension and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Currently 12 chapters have been organized across the state. MU Extension regional specialists and MDC resource professionals serve as chapter advisors in their respective area. Volunteers can enroll in training that is conducted at the chapter level and can receive certification after 40 hours of basic training, 8 hours of advanced training, and 40 hours of volunteer service are completed. Volunteers maintain certification by completing an additional 8 hours of advanced training and 40 hours of approved volunteer service each year.

Who conducts the training and what's involved?

Basic training consists of a minimum of 40 hours of combined classroom and field experience. Educational programs include some of the traditional disciplines such ornithology, and botany, as well as learning about important ecological concepts, wildlife biology, forest management and land use history. Other topics include an overview of Missouri eco-regions, natural resource management practices, interpretation and communication. Instructors come from local colleges or universities, and state and federal agencies.

Advanced training provides 8 hours of classroom and field experience that is focused on a particular area of interest. Advanced training is often conducted at the chapter level and supplemented by activities that are sponsored at the state level.

A statewide curriculum covers the basic training and learning objectives. Each participant is provided a file box of full of natural resource educational materials.

As a certified Master Naturalist, what would I do?

Volunteer community service projects are usually conducted with an identified group of local partners that have been identified at the chapter level. Projects run the gamut and might include construction and maintenance of interpretive trails; prairie restorations; stream management: invasive species removal: exotic species control; collecting data for fish, wildlife and plant inventories; conducting natural resource programs for adult and youth audiences in the community; working with private landowners or community leaders in developing natural resource management plans; outdoor skills instruction; natural resource interpretation at nature and visitors centers; creating and maintaining naturescaping demonstration areas; and much more.

A statewide advisory committee provides assistance in developing parameters for the types of volunteer projects that fall within the scope of the program. Within that framework, local Chapter Coordinating Committees identify natural resource-related needs in the community. Volunteers can then design their own projects to meet those identified needs.

What are my responsibilities as a certified Master Naturalist?

Once you are certified, it is your responsibility to maintain your certification. You are expected to stay active in the local chapter and attend meetings, take advantage of advanced training offered through the local chapter, and keep accurate records of your service hours.

As a volunteer, you may not profit from your status or violate the policies, missions and goals of the sponsoring agencies that govern use of the Master Naturalist title.

What is a volunteer chapter?

Master Naturalist volunteers in a community organize into self-governing chapters, with MU Extension and MDC staff serving as chapter advisors.

Who administers the program?

The Missouri Master Naturalist program is a partnership of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and University of Missouri Extension.

How is the program supported?

This is a self-supporting, fee-based program. Volunteers are expected to pay a registration fee that partially defrays the costs of conducting the program. Chapters may have additional nominal expenses that require fees or dues to support activities and events. Local partners also support the program by providing subject-matter expertise, making donations, supplying volunteer service opportunities and provide other in-kind services.

How do I find out more?

For other inquiries about the program, e-mail us at:
Master_Naturalist@mdc.mo.gov

Or contact our state coordinators for MDC and MU Extension:
Syd Hime at Missouri Department of Conservation
573-751-4115 x3370
Syd.Hime@mdc.mo.gov

Bob Pierce, Extension Wildlife Specialist at University of Missouri
573-882-4337
PierceR@missouri.edu