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Master Naturalist Rendezvous

May 18 @ 9:00 am - May 19 @ 3:00 pm


Dates: Saturday & Sunday, May 18 &19
Location: Hosted by the Montana Natural History Center. Sessions will take place at various sites in and around Missoula.
Cost: $40

Enjoy a weekend of programs and fellow Master Naturalists at our third Montana Master Naturalist Rendezvous! We are so excited to see you in Missoula this year!

Featuring nature journaling with Nancy Seiler!, botany Peter Lesica and William Schlegel, osprey with Dalit Guscio, and so much more.

Fresh produce will be provided thanks to the generous support of Natural Grocers!



MORNING SESSION 1: Birding by Ear with Pat Little
Time: 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Location: Meet at MNHC, travel to field site in personal vehicle/carpool

Get more out of birding by birding by ear! Pat Little, Master Naturalist, MNHC’s front desk associate, and passionate birder, will start with a classroom session to introduce the practice of birding by ear and provide tips and tricks. We will then walk along the Kim Williams trail from MNHC to listen and look for our vocal spring birds! If you want to sharpen your skills or are new to birding by ear this class is for you. Find out how identify birds by their calls and songs. Learn how to start slowly, gain confidence, and increase your bird song repertoire. The birds are always saying something as we wander around outside. Now you can find out who is saying what!

Activity level: easy walking.

MORNING SESSION 2: Geology and Ecology in the North Hills with Ian Watson and Christine Morris
Time: 9:00-11:00 a.m.
Location: Meet at the Greenough Dr. Waterworks Trailhead paved parking area. NOTE: Parking spots can be limited. If possible, try to carpool with a friend or two. Or arrive early to be able to park in the residential area on Monroe and walk to the trailhead. This could take up to 15 minutes.

Get a bird’s eye view of the Missoula Valley and hear the incredible stories behind its landscape features:

  • the building of the Rockies
  • shortening (Rattlesnake mountains)
  • extension (Bitterroot and Missoula valleys)
  • deposition of Paleogene/Neogene strata and valley bounding faults
  • Belt rocks
  • And of course the famous Glacial Lake Missoula!

The ecology of the North Hills is directly tied to ancient and ongoing geologic processes. Here you will find plants adapted to high winds coming through Hellgate Canyon and dry gravely soils. These cushion and mat-forming plants display characteristics more commonly seen at higher elevations. Geologist Ian Watson and MNHC’s Community Programs Coordinator and Master Naturalist instructor Christine Morris will take you on a flat, level walk in a loop from the parking lot. For those interested in more a vigorous and steeper climb, you can continue on uphill with the instructors to view geological features and plants along the ridge.

Activity level: easy to moderate/steep walking.

LUNCH, from 12:00-1:00 p.m.: Free hot dog/veggie dog BBQ at the Montana Natural History Center! Plus chips, salad, and soda. And produce from Natural Grocers! Feel free to bring any item you would like to share.

AFTERNOON SESSION 1: Journaling Missoula’s Springtime Native Plants with Nancy Seiler
Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Location: Meet at the Montana Natural History Center and walk to the Pierce Prairie (approximately .5 miles, flat). We will meet indoors at MNHC if it is rainy and use herbarium specimens.

Join Nancy Seiler in Pierce Prairie to record native plants through close observation, notes, and drawing. Nancy will start with a tour of the location to point out the many plants that are blooming in mid-May here. She’ll start with a demonstration of how to start a drawing in your journal with tips on composition, skeletal structure, and what notes and call-outs to include. You will spread out to create a page in your journal. Nancy will be available to help you in your recording process. Informative handouts provided. Dress for the weather and bring something to sit on, along with your journal, pencil, pen, and watercolors, if you’d like. In case of rain, we will work from herbarium samples at MNHC. (Nancy Seiler has come out of her teaching retirement for this event!)

Activity level: easy walking, seating on ground

About the instructor: Nancy Seiler has been teaching botanical illustration and nature journaling since 2003. She has been a GOLDEN Working Artist for GOLDEN Artist Colors since 2015, teaching people how to use acrylics and watercolors. Her fine art is represented by FOR Fine Art in Whitefish and Bigfork, and by 709 Gallery in Montana Art and Framing in Missoula. Visit her website at www.nancyseiler.com.

AFTERNOON SESSION 2: Botany with William Schlegel
Time: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Location: Crazy Canyon trailhead in Pattee Canyon

Wander the woods with U.S. Forest Service botanist William Schlegel. William is an incredible wealth of information and an inspiring instructor. Practice plant identification and learn amazing plant facts – ecology, edibility, and more! William will also discuss how you can get involved in an USFS/MNHC citizen science seed collecting project. Find out how to contribute to the stewardship of our national lands and get Master Naturalist hours while you hike in the forest this summer!

Activity level: moderate walking, uneven ground.

About the instructor: William Schlegel a botanist and science educator from Ronan. Floristic inventory, seed collection, vegetation monitoring, rare plant surveys, botany reports, pollinator surveys, and identification of grasses are his botany specialties.

We will meet at the Crazy Canyon Trailhead in Pattee Canyon. There will be a moderate hike up to one mile through the forest and to a flower-filled meadow. See dozens of species and learn from the expert!


MORNING SESSION 1: Meteorology lecture with Sarah Elsasser
Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Location: Montana Natural History Center, Naturalist Classroom downstairs

Are you curious about what you’re seeing when you glance out your window at the sky each morning? Do you wonder why the winds are blowing from the southwest one day and from the northeast the next? Do you find thunderstorms exciting, and wonder how hail is formed? And what exactly is graupel? In this quick introduction to meteorology we’ll look at global circulations, jet streams, winds, clouds, and thunderstorms. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of the weather that you step into each day here in western Montana.

About the instructor: Sarah Elsasser has been a lifelong weather geek, always checking the weather before heading into the outdoors. But her interest really kicked into high gear when she began flying airplanes, and realized that understanding weather was crucial to the safety and enjoyment of every flight. She taught aviation meteorology courses for a community college aviation program for several years, and enjoys sharing her understanding of weather phenomena with others.

MORNING SESSION 2: Summer Raptors of Montana lecture with Chadwick Moore
Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Location: Montana Natural History Center, Ellen Knight classroom upstairs

Think identifying hawks and eagles is tough? You’re right, it is. This practical lecture will emphasize identification of several diurnal raptors in Western Montana using size, shape, and flight behavior in addition to the more common approach of using field marks.

Chad Moore is a geographer and hydrologist by trade who counterintuitively spends a lot of time looking away from the earth toward the sky. He has years of experience hawk watching and telemetry tracking of birds of prey. Chad co-founded the Bridger Raptor Festival near Bozeman, and can often be found driving the backroads of Western Montana with his wife and dogs.

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch on your own. The Montana Natural History Center will be open.

AFTERNOON SESSION 1: Botany with Peter Lesica
Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Location: Mount Jumbo saddle trail. From Rattlesnake Drive, take Lincoln Hills Drive. Follow the winding road to the Trailhead parking area. Map Here (look for Saddle Trail) or type ‘Lincon Hills Mt. Jumbo Trailhead’ in your phone for driving directions.

This is your opportunity to go on a plant walk with expert botanist Peter Lesica! Peter is the author of numerous books and field guides, including Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Wildflowers of Glacier National Park and Surrounding Areas, Trees and Shrubs of Glacier National Park, and many more. Peter will choose a location close to town for the best flower viewing. He will discuss identifying features, natural history, and fun facts for any naturalist. Note: the trail could be steep with moderate hiking.

Activity level: moderate/steep walking, uneven ground


AFTERNOON SESSION 2: Osprey with Dalit Guscio
Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Location: meet at the Montana Natural History Center. Walk or carpool to site TBA day of event.

Let’s talk about our local summertime ospreys with Dalit Guscio, CFWEP’s Missoula program director! When do they return? Where do they winter? Who feeds the chicks? How do they migrate in the fall? What are we monitoring in the Clark Fork Watershed? We will meet at an active nest and have scopes available.

Activity level: easy walking.

About the instructor: Dalit Guscio is the Missoula program director of the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP). She spends her time educating our youth about watershed health and monitors Clark Fork osprey chicks as a proxy for watershed health. Opportunities to volunteer with CFWEP in Missoula area or Butte will also be addressed! Check us out at cfwep.org.

So many fabulous sessions – we look forward to spending the weekend with you!

Cost: $40.00 per person
Lodging and transportation not included.

Please Bring:

  • Snacks and water
  • Clothes appropriate for changing Montana weather conditions, layers, rain and shine
  • Boots or shoes for trail walking
  • Notebooks and writing implement
  • Binoculars (optional, we will have some to borrow)

The Montana Natural History Center will be open and free to Master Naturalists on Saturday, May 18, and during lunch on Sunday, May 19. See displays on ecology, geology, paleontology, and Glacial Lake Missoula.

Thank you Natural Grocers!


Nearby lodging options:


May 18 @ 9:00 am
May 19 @ 3:00 pm
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