Get Trained

Interested in becoming a Master Naturalist? Learn more about our training.

Master Naturalist training is a 40-hour series of sessions and field experiences that presents a consistent, statewide perspective on Wisconsin’s natural history, ecological processes, and conservation issues. Master Naturalist trainings are open to all adults over 18 years of age with a $275 registration fee. Reduced registration fees are available for those facing financial hardships during the registration process. Typically, 10-15 Master Naturalist trainings are held across the state annually, and their locations, dates, and schedules vary based on the host organization. Registration begins on the second Monday every January.

Trainings emphasize outdoor learning experiences in a variety of conditions and locations, please contact info@wimasternaturalist.org if you have questions about the activity level.

Training Materials

While each training is unique to the host site and region, the Master Naturalist Training Guide provides quality written material that is consistent wherever you choose to participate. Just like our natural world, there are many points of intersection within the content and these connections are reinforced through the training experience.

Training Guide Features

  • Quality Content: 11 individual sections that have been carefully selected and written by authors who have expertise to share with the Master Naturalist community.
  • Reflect and Connect: questions and comments to provoke your own thoughts and apply your learning to different sections of the Training Guide.
  • Notable Naturalists: inspiring individuals who care about nature representing varied ages, genders, and cultures from across the state.
  • Master Naturalists in Action: Master Naturalists highlight their own volunteer activities.
  • Nature Knowledge Checks: a small set of multiple-choice questions for a low-risk self-assessment at the end of each section.
  • Glossary: written in plain language to define words or concepts.

Sections and Authors

  • Master Naturalist CommunityBecky Sapper, University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension
  • Aquatic Life: Paul Skawinski, Extension Lakes at University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  • Ecology: Emily Stone, Cable Natural History Museum
  • Geology: Tom Fitz, Northland College
  • Human Connections: Anna Haines (emeritus), Rebecca L. Franzen, and Kendra R. Liddicoat, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  • Natural History: Jennifer Vieth, Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center
  • Plant Communities: Pat Trochlell, The Prairie Enthusiasts
  • Water: Eric Olson, Extension Lakes at University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  • Weather and Climate: John Young (emeritus) and Daniel J. Vimont, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Wildlife: Jamie Nack and Scott Craven, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Master Naturalist Service: Becky Sapper, Deanna Erickson, Ryan Feldbrugge, University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension; Karen Oberhauser (emeritus), University of Wisconsin–Madison; Jared Urban, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Key Concepts

Each section of the Training Guide has a key concept that covers the overarching learning objective. These key concepts are what provides the common thread between all trainings held across the state and are reinforced by instructors through guest experts and field experiences. Preview the Key Concepts to learn more.

Training Project

To synthesize and implement their knowledge, participants will work in small groups to complete a training project related to education/interpretation, stewardship, or citizen-science. The training project is a fun, low-stakes opportunity to try out volunteer activities in a supportive environment. They usually take 2-4 hours to complete outside of the scheduled training time. Examples of training projects include: developing and/or delivering an educational presentation, collecting native seeds for an organization’s restoration efforts, or participating in a frog and toad survey. Instructors help participants find a training project the meets their interests and abilities.

In-Person Master Naturalist Trainings

In-person Master Naturalist Trainings are primarily outdoor learning experiences which may include extended periods of standing, hiking on both flat paths and off-trails with inclines, and a variety of weather conditions. There may be some indoor presentations and activities, but most of the learning will take place out in nature. The key concepts are reinforced by guest experts from across many disciplines and field experiences. These trainings are a minimum of 40 educational hours with strict attendance requirements to become certified with only 4 hours of excused absence allowed.

This training is the preferred method of delivery for those interested in becoming a Master Naturalist. Learning experientially allows for an increased comprehension and retention of the content. There is also a high value placed on the networking experience between participants, instructors, and guest experts with many people developing friendships and a new peer network.

Hybrid Trainings

The Master Naturalist program understands that it can be difficult to fit a 40-hour training into busy schedules. A hybrid (both online and in-person) training is in development allowing participants to cover content online and at their own pace together with a small cohort over a designated period, usually 8-12 weeks. The training will be facilitated by host organizations and will be interspersed with online Zoom discussions, and at least one in-person field day. A pilot hybrid training will be offered in 2024 with feedback helping to inform future delivery of a hybrid Master Naturalist training.

Find a Master Naturalist training that matches your interest, availability, and location.