UTICA — Those who love the outdoors and want to share their passion for the natural world with others should consider becoming a University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist volunteer.
The mission of the Extension’s Master Naturalist program is to provide science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. Volunteers in the program are provided opportunities to explore and expand their understanding of the natural world. They also help provide educational outreach and assist with environmental stewardship projects.
This year, members of the University of Illinois Extension — Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam County Unit, along with Starved Rock State Park, will offer volunteer training starting this fall. Training will cover numerous subjects including geology, archaeology, botany, wetlands, ornithology, the forests of Illinois, entomology and more.
Training will be held one day a week over the course of 10 weeks, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Sept. 3 to Nov. 5. Classroom time will be held in the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center. Field trips for hands-on training will include Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, Dayton Bluffs, Nachusa Grasslands and Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.
Volunteers completing the training sessions will then work on Extension-approved environmental stewardship and educational outreach projects with other Master Naturalists and local partners.
To maintain their Master Naturalist certification, volunteers must complete 10 hours of continuing education, and 30 hours of approved service work in the local area annually. The Extension provides ongoing training and coordinates regular meetings to support Master Naturalist volunteers.
Adults aged 18 and over are welcome to register. The cost for Master Naturalist training to become a certified volunteer is $250. For more information or to sign up, visit https://go.illinois.edu/2019mntraining, or call Meg Overocker, program coordinator, at 815-433-0707.
Space is limited, and registration closes Aug. 23, or when the class is full. Preference will be given to residents of Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties.
For those who need a reasonable accommodation, indicate when registering. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow time for meeting access needs.
For more information, call 815-433-0707.
Extension offices are located in Princeton, Ottawa, Henry and in Oglesby, on the IVCC campus.