Once accepted into the program you will receive a minimum of 40 hours of training in Missouri ecosystems, including ecology and resource management and more. We provide experts in the fields taught as trainers to give you the best information possible. In addition, we'll schedule training to meet your busy schedule.

Advanced training

You'll also receive eight hours of advanced training from experts in a subject of your choosing. You might focus on native plant or bird identification, learn how to restore prairies or monitor water quality, or you might choose to learn more about teaching conservation education to others.

Outline and objectives

Learning outcomes

Program administration
Volunteers will...

  • Understand the expectations for their participation in the Master Naturalist program.
  • Know what their advanced training and service opportunities are and how to get them approved.
  • Successfully keep track of their service hours.

An introduction to conservation
Volunteers will...

  • Explain the reasons for conservation: economic, political, aesthetic, scientific, moral.
  • Be able to explain the missions of the sponsoring agencies (MDC, MU Extension) and how the Master Naturalist program supports those missions.
  • Be able to compare and contrast preservation, restoration and management.

Historical overview of resources and use
Volunteers will...

  • Know that what they see on the landscape today is different than what it was 50, 150, 200 years ago.
  • Know how humans have changed natural processes that lead to changed ecosystems (fire, timber harvest, channelization, agriculture, urbanization).
  • Be able to explain how we know what was here prior to settlement (Lewis and Clark, other early explorers, survey notes, Steyermark, etc.).
  • Be able to explain how exploitation of resources led to conservation as it exists today.

Ecological concepts
Volunteers will be able to...

  • Describe processes involved in ecological succession including water cycle and food webs.
  • Describe the concepts of limiting factors and carrying capacity and why those are important.
  • Define succession.
  • Describe what influences biodiversity and why it is important.
  • Describe the difference between a habitat and a niche and why it's important.
  • Describe the differences between indigenous, exotic and invasive species and their impacts.

Eco-regions overview
Volunteers will be able to...

  • Describe and locate Missouri's natural divisions.
  • Describe in detail a natural division in their location.

Volunteers will be able to...

  • List some of the characteristics that define ecosystems.
  • Identify two or three characteristics of one ecosystem.
  • Describe a current human activity and how it impacts an ecosystem in their location.
  • Identify representative plants, animals and natural communities in an ecosystem in their location.

Management concepts
Volunteers will be able to...

  • Describe some ways in which fish, forest, wildlife and natural communities are renewable.
  • Describe the roles of harvest in managing plant and animal populations.
  • Describe the processes of species and/or habitat manipulation as population and community management tools.
  • Explain how agencies strive to balance natural resource management and public recreation to the benefit of both.

How to teach
Volunteers will...

  • Know where to get information to prepare presentations for the public.
  • Feel comfortable giving a presentation or working at an event or fair.
  • Be familiar with resource use issues that may come up during a presentation and have some ideas how to handle those situations.

Volunteer draft training topics for 40-hour training (to accomplish the above outcomes)

Program administration

  • Policies and procedures
  • Risk management
  • Program code of ethics
  • Expectations for volunteers
  • Program roadmap

Introduction to conservation

  • Reasons for conservation: economic, political, aesthetic, scientific, moral
  • Levels of conservation
  • Agency backgrounds — roles, missions, visions, values

Historical overview of resources and use

  • Conservation history
  • Land use history
  • Pre settlement
  • Local history
  • Natural history
  • Natural resource policy

Ecological concepts

  • Water cycle
  • Energy cycle
  • Carrying capacity
  • Succession
  • Limiting factors

Natural divisions/eco-regions overview
Systems for prairie/grassland, forest, wetland, savanna, stream/lake/pond, glade, urban, agricultural

  • What each system is, processes
  • Management
  • Importance/relative size
  • Current human impacts
  • Restoration
  • System relationships
  • For local ecosystems, representative plants, animals and natural communities

Management concepts

  • Hunting, fishing, trapping
  • Soil conservation
  • Water quality
  • Watersheds
  • Nuisance wildlife
  • Invasive exotics
  • Enforcement
  • Habitat
  • Predators
  • Use and recreation/people management

How to teach

  • Doing presentations
  • Resources available
  • What do I do when...
    Dealing with what might hit you