Montana Master Naturalist Program & Naturalist Field Days

Montana Master Naturalist Program


The Montana Master Naturalist Program is designed for adults who want to stoke their curiosity and deepen their knowledge of the natural world. We offer a range of programs to fit the needs of a diverse community, but all the classes share a common goal of providing participants with the skills to interpret the Montana landscape. The core class is the Master Naturalist Certification course, which we offer in spring, summer, and fall, in slightly different formats. But we also offer focused, intensive field weekends, and field days on additional topics.


Master Naturalist Certification Courses: 

Our certification courses consist of at least 40 hours of instruction in a mix of lectures, in-class labs, and outdoor field trips. We’ll cover a wide breadth of topics (which might include birds, mammals, insects, trees and shrubs, flowers and more), but the goal will be the same across all the topics–-to give you an essential foundation of skill and knowledge on which you can build.

Each course has its own, specific set of goals for you to accomplish, and if you meet them successfully, you’ll earn your Montana Master Naturalist Certification and pin. If you want to maintain your certification in years to come (and earn successive Master Naturalist pins), you’ll have to log 40 hours of volunteer service/year with organizations connected with the natural world.

For more information on volunteer service requirements, click HERE.

For a listing of Master Naturalist courses outside of Missoula, click HERE.

Spring Certification Course 2014 – CLASS IS FILLED.

Summer Certification Course 2014 – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

Taught by MNHC Naturalist Brian Williams, this is a five-day intensive course held from June 18-20 and June 23-24 (Wednesday-Friday and Monday-Tuesday, with the weekend off), 2014, with the class meeting from 8am-4pm each day. This class will meet at our classroom at the Native Plant Garden at Fort Missoula.

Because this version of the class is compressed into a short window of time, we won’t cover the same breadth of material as the spring class, but instead delve deeper into a more limited range of topics. This class also differs slightly from the spring course because we’ll take full advantage of the early summer season and spend most of our time afield, supplementing that with a couple of lectures and labs to deepen our knowledge. Our focus will be on learning the core skills of identification in three areas: 1) flowers and trees, 2) birds, and 3) insects. In the past, guest instructors have included Annie Garde, Valerie Bayer, and Charles Miller.

The main project for this class is keeping a detailed species list, and to get the most out of your experience, you should expect to spend a little time each evening after class, and some time over the weekend, reviewing and organizing your daily notes, and tracking your observations.

There are no required books. We’ll use a variety of field guides, but we’ll have copies of those on hand.

Registration Information:

*The cost of this course is $395.  Full payment due upon registration. The course fee (minus a $100 administrative fee) is refundable ONLY if a cancellation is made 30 days before the first day of class.  No refunds will be issued for cancellations made after this deadline.

*Please call 406.327.0405 during office hours to register.

*2 college credits available (pending approval); this course is listed as ENST 391.

*Some scholarships are available–please contact us at 327.0405 for details.

Field Weekends

Our field weekends offer the chance to intensively study specific topics.

Spring Flower Weekend in the Blackfoot: May 17-18, 2014
We’re taking our successful Master Naturalist flower weekend course on the road again, to the mid-Blackfoot valley to study spring flowers in the prairie. UM botany and Missoula College biology instructor Greg Peters and MNHC naturalist Brian Williams will take you into the plains to botanize. Our focus, as always, will remain using a technical key and recognizing important families, but our habitat will be prairie this year.

We’ll meet Saturday at 8:00am and take the MNHC bus up to a cabin in the Blackfoot. After a night at the cabin, we’ll return to the MNHC by 4:00 on Sunday. All the waking hours in between will be spent immersed in flowers!

flowers in the Blackfoot

• Pre-trip Meeting: Thursday, May 15th, from 4:00-5:00pm at the Montana Natural History Center.
• Flower Weekend: May 17th-18th; 8:00 am on Saturday to 4:00pm on Sunday.

• MNHC will provide dinner Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning, but you’ll be responsible for your own lunches and snacks.
• Sleeping arrangements: the following are available on a first come, first serve basis:
*Three single beds
*Two double beds
*2 “very comfortable” couches
*Camping in the yard

• $145 non-members; $130 members

Registration opens April 1st. Register online or call 327.0405.

More information on upcoming weekends to be announced. Stay tuned!

Naturalist Field Days

DSCF6625In the tradition of our high-quality Master Naturalist Courses, Field Days pair expert instructors with hands-on field experiences for truly engaging learning opportunities. Geared toward the Master Naturalist, student, and curious outdoor explorer, our program content develops key naturalist skills.

Take all six Field Days for extensive study of our local environment throughout the year, or choose topics on a one-by-one basis.

2014 Schedule 

Registration Information:

  • Time: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Place: meet at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St.  We will travel to field sites in the MNHC bus.
  • Cost: Individual Class price is $80/ $70 MNHC members.
  • Some scholarships are available; please call for details. 
  • 6 Class Pack price is $280. Class pack holders must still call and sign up for each individual class to hold their place in the class. The 6 pack is good for any 6 classes and does not have an expiration date.  
  • 5 OPI credits available per course

Please call 327-0405 to register. Space is limited. Full payment is due upon registration.