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Extension > Environment > Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education > Conservation education> Master Naturalist 10th anniversary

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The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program celebrates 10th anniversary

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.

In Minnesota, everyday citizens gain in-depth understanding of nature and have access to professionals in environmental science through the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

  • 2,112: Master Naturalists
  • 395,446: hours volunteered over the last 10 years
  • 3.4 million: acres impacted by Master Naturalist activities

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 engage in real-world field work that helps University of Minnesota Extension researchers and Department of Natural Resources professionals assess changes in natural habitats and environments.

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The Minnesota Master Naturalist program was created in 2005 with a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. It is a collaborative effort of University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Stories from the 10-year anniversary report

Pam and Michael Pagelkopf with field desks

Minnesota Master Naturalists help students study the forest

Pam and Michael Pagelkopf completed the Minnesota Master Naturalist Big Woods, Big Rivers program in 2007. Inspired by their love of the outdoors and a belief that today’s youth are the future stewards of the earth, they looked for volunteer opportunities that would support student learning in the outdoors.

state of minnesota divided into biomes

Home, home on the biome

Master Naturalists complete a 40-hour, hands-on course in natural history, environmental interpretation, and conservation stewardship. The program offers three courses that focus, in-depth, on Minnesota’s major biomes.

park ranger leads tour of master naturalists on prairie

Volunteer profile: The class of 2005

Measuring the impact of a program as diverse and widespread in its scope and reach as Master Naturalists can be difficult. Extension educator and Master Naturalist program director Amy Rager asked three questions of a few of the graduates of the very first Big Woods, Big Rivers course taught in 2005.

pasque flowers

Expanding outreach

Over the last 10 years, Master Naturalist volunteers, students and instructors have reached out to at least one person in almost every county in Minnesota.

people outside at a work table

10 years of benchmarks

From its first class offered in 2005 to its 176th biome class taught in 2015, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has received local and national recognition for program development and citizen engagement in natural resource conservation.

Get involved

Anyone may attend Master Naturalist-led workshops and excursions. Check out our event schedule for your next environmental adventure!

Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website

Contact us at 888-241-4532,

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