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Master Naturalist Rendezvous

May 20 @ 5:00 pm - May 22 @ 5:00 pm


DATES: Friday to Sunday, May 20-22
LOCATIONS: Various sites in and around Missoula

REGISTER below. By registering for one of the Saturday morning field experiences, you are registered for the entire weekend. No additional registration is needed for the afternoon workshops. 

Join us for three days of Master Naturalist camaraderie in Missoula, Montana! This weekend is open only to Montana Master Naturalists and will feature programs by an array of excellent instructors. Meet up with classmates, refresh your knowledge, and practice naturalist skills.


Picnic at the Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden. Eat outside among blooming plants, take a walk to the Bitterroot river, and meet up with friends and classmates. We have a few tables; most of the seating will be on picnic blankets on the ground.

Time & place: 5:00-7:00 p.m., Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden. Click HERE for directions and a map.

Registration is preferred, but not required. REGISTER HERE for Friday Picnic

SATURDAY MORNING Field Experiences

(Register for one. By registering you will be registered for the entire weekend.)

Ecology and Identification of Native Grasses with Peter Lesica – REGISTER HERE for Native Grasses
Learn how to identify our local native grasses by specific structures, habitat, and ecological role and as you wander the North Hills of Missoula. Using a loupe will provide essential magnified views of flower parts. From bunch, to sod forming, lemmas to glumes, you will become versed in the biological beauty of grasses. Peter Lesica is a botanist and author of Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Wildflowers of Glacier National Park, Trees and Shrubs of Glacier National Park, and more. We will have loupes available to borrow; bring journal and writing implement. Moderate walking up and down hills.

Time & place: 9:00 a.m.-noon. Meet at the Duncan Drive Trailhead off of Duncan Dr. This is the most northern Duncan Drive TH on the map.

Wildflower Walk with Elena Ulev –  REGISTER HERE  for the Wildflower Walk
Mt. Jumbo has truly lovely native plants to welcome with the spring. On this wildflower walk you will learn how to identify the plants with a focus on recognizing family characteristics. Elena will describe cultural uses for plants, ecological information, and botanical features. You will also get to spend time creating a small wildflower watercolor en plein air with guidance from Elena. Elena Ulev is a Master Naturalist, Certified Interpretive Guide, teacher and artist. She spent a decade working for the Forest Service as a wildlife, botany, and hydrology technician as well a technical science writer. We will have art materials available, but you are welcome to bring your own journal. Bring good shoes or boots. Moderate walking up and down hills.

Time & place: 9:00 a.m.-noon. Meet at the Upper Lincoln Hills Trailhead, Mt. Jumbo. Near Saddle Trail and North Loop trail on the map. Here are directions.

Birding by Sight and Sound with Brian Williams – REGISTER HERE for Birding
Find amazing birds of all kinds from raptors to warblers to shorebirds at beautiful Council Grove State Park. Brian will focus on both identifying the birds by getting to know their field marks and by call and song. Brian started the Montana Master Naturalist course at the Montana Natural History Center in 2006 and he guided bird tours for King Ranch in Texas. He is now teaching fourth grade at Hawthorne Elementary. Bring binoculars and a bird guide if you have them (we will have some to borrow). Flat, easy walking

Time & place: 7:30-9:30 a.m., Council Grove State Park

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates with Lily Haines, Clark Fork Coalition – REGISTER HERE for Aquatic Macroinvertebrates
Discover life beneath the surface of our rivers and streams as you study and identify the aquatic stage of our mayflies, stoneflies, dragonflies, and many more. You will collect invertebrates from a side channel of Rattlesnake creek for investigation. Lily will explain their life history and the incredible impact they have for all life in the river and beyond. Lily Haines, Community Programs Manager, organizes and manages CFC’s community-based programming, including watershed education curricula for youth, water briefings, and community science field outings for adults, and volunteer opportunities that build a culture of river stewardship and connect people to their local creeks and streams. Bring water shoes/Chacos if you have them; we will have some waders to borrow. 

Time & place: 9:00-11:00 a.m., Greenough Park, pavilion parking area

SATURDAY AFTERNOON Workshops (all programs at the Montana Natural History Center)

Nature Journaling with Jenah Mead, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
This two-hour program will provide guidance and practice with nature journaling art techniques with a focus on spring flowers. We will meet at the Montana Natural History Center to pick up materials and then travel to the John Toole garden along the Kim Williams trail (by walk, bike, or drive). Jenah Mead is an artist, naturalist, Certified Interpretive Guide and educator who specializes in wildlife illustrations and has taught science and nature education for over a decade. Jenah combines the study of nature and art to create detailed graphite illustrations of local flora and fauna.

Neat and Cool Rocks with Bruce Baty, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Bruce will pick the most interesting rocks and minerals from his collection at MNHC for a show-and-tell-style program. Hear geologic stories of our local rocks and fascinating facts about far-flung mineral specimens. Every rock has a tale to tell about the geologic processes that occurred during its formation. Bring your own rock and mineral finds for identification too! Bruce Baty taught Geology and Earth Science at Hellgate High School for thirty years, retiring from teaching in 2001. After retiring, Bruce taught a variety of geology courses for the adult education program in Missoula and also taught summer field classes in geology to high school teachers. He started volunteering at the Montana Natural History Center about 10 years ago, helping with geology classes and organizing MNHC’s collections of rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Mammal Skull Identification with Paul Hendricks, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Practice mammal skull identification with MNHC’s numerous specimens. Paul will explain how to use dental formula and a mammal skull key to determine species. You will have time to examine and study specimens, practice with a key, and learn important features and vocabulary. The skull reveals not just identity, but life history as well. Paul Hendricks was drawn to the outdoors and nature before he began his formal education, and continues to follow his natural history muse in semi-retirement. He spent much of his working career as a zoologist for the Montana Natural Heritage Program, taught mammalogy at the University of Montana for 3 years, and is coauthor of Amphibians and Reptiles of Montana and Birds of Montana


Tours of the University of Montana Zoological Museum with curator Angela Hornsby and Master Naturalist and Certified Interpretive Guide Sam Getty at 1:00-2:00 and 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Sign-up sheets available Saturday at MNHC. $10 fee to UMZM.)

Volunteer-led hikes in the forests and mountains around Missoula (sign-up sheets available Saturday at MNHC).

BioBlitz at Five Valleys Land Trust’s Rock Creek Confluence Property. 10:00-noon. Join Jenny Tollefson, Stewardship Coordinator from FVLT, for an introduction and tour of the Rock Creek Property. Conduct a general survey of life in the area. You do not need to have professional level identification skills to participate – just record what you see! Meet at the Rock Creek property. HERE IS THE MAP. Meet at the West Side Trailhead.

COVID Precautions:

  • Small group sizes
  • Masks may be required or recommended indoors depending on current CDC guidelines and conditions

Cost: $40


What’s the refund policy?
The course fee (minus a 25% administrative fee) is refundable if a cancellation is made up to 7 days before the event. No refunds will be issued for cancellations made after this deadline. This ticket is non-transferable to other programs or events. See our full refund/cancellation policy here.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
Nope! We will have a list of all the attendees.


May 20 @ 5:00 pm
May 22 @ 5:00 pm
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Montana Natural History Center
120 Hickory St.
Missoula, MT 59801 United States