The goal of volunteer service is to strengthen local communities by improving natural areas and educating people of all ages about Montana’s natural environment. Many communities and organizations rely on citizen volunteers. In fact, a short supply of dedicated and well-informed volunteers is often cited as a limiting factor for community-based conservation efforts. Our Montana Master Naturalists help fill that gap, sharing their knowledge, curiosity, and expertise, giving thousands of hours a year to their communities.
The goal of continuing education is to help Master Naturalists continue to increase their understanding of Montana’s ecosystems, flora, and fauna–and it’s a great way to meet other naturalists and scientists, too!
Recertification Deadline: January 1.
If you graduated in 2021, your deadline is Jan. 1st, 2023.
If you graduate in 2022, your deadline Jan. 1st., 2024.
Did you lapse and need to recertify? We now have two ways for you to regain your certification. You can either 1) take the Master Naturalist course again, or 2) complete 30 hours of volunteering, plus 12 hours of continuing education, in one year. The continuing education must be provided by classes or field days, not lectures. If your hours lapsed due to COVID, please contact Christine Morris, cmorris [at] montananaturalist [dot] org.
For more information, please contact Christine Morris at cmorris [at] montananaturalist [dot] org or 406.327.0405.
Criteria for Montana Master Naturalist volunteer service
The activity needs to:
- relate to Montana’s natural or environmental cultural history
- occur in Montana unless you live out of state
- be sponsored by an organization
- be unpaid
Each volunteer service activity may fit under one of these categories: Citizen Science, Stewardship, Education, Organizational Support, Other.
Citizen Science involves volunteers assisting with scientific research. These projects usually involve gathering data and returning it to researchers. Examples include:
- Assisting with any kind of natural history/biological survey (iNaturalist, eBird)
- Participating in a Christmas Bird Count
- Collecting monarch larval monitoring data
- Monitoring water quality or macroinvertebrates
- Collecting/interpreting biological data for any number of projects through SciStarter, Zooniverse, or other local or nationwide projects
Stewardship includes natural resource management activities. Examples include:
- Removing invasive weeds
- Helping develop a school forest management plan
- Assisting with restoration (collecting native seeds, planting native species)
- Improving trails to reduce erosion
- Helping maintain a community native plant garden
Education includes the presentation and/or development of educational materials. Examples include:
- Assisting in teaching visitors about wildflowers at a nature center
- Writing a Field Note or educational article for publication in a magazine or newsletter
- Creating a brochure for a natural area
- Assisting with an environmental education program for a school group (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, church group, etc.
Organizational Support projects include working to ensure the functioning of any conservation/environmental organizations. Examples include:
- Preparing mailings
- Answering phones
- Computer work
- Organizing a digital library
- Serving as a board member
- Assisting with events, lectures, fundraising
Other projects should be described when you submit hours
Criteria for Montana Master Naturalist continuing education
Montana Master Naturalist continuing education needs to:
- focus on an aspect of Montana’s natural, environmental, or cultural history
- be a formal training or class
Most activities will:
- occur in Montana
- have an outdoor component
- Project WET, WILD, or Learning Tree training
- Plant or animal identification course or presentation
- Water quality monitoring training
- Montana geology or climate course or presentation
- Volunteer orientation for a nature center
- Forest management course or presentation
- Environmental sustainability lecture
- Naturalist Field Days through MNHC, Audubon, or other organizations
- Because we have some great documentary film festivals in Missoula and elsewhere in the state, we will allow up to two continuing education hours from watching a natural history-focused documentary film at a film festival, ideally focused on Montana (or at least the West), and even better if there’s a discussion forum afterwards!
Where to find continuing education opportunities:
- Montana Natural History Center (Naturalist Field Days, Evening Lectures, Volunteer Trainings)
- Glacier Institute
- Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
- Missoula Insectarium
- Montana State Parks
- Montana State University Extension Service
- Montana Audubon (and local chapters)
- Montana Native Plant Society
- University of Montana or MSU — classes and lectures in Biology, Environmental Studies, Wildlife Biology, etc.
- Yellowstone Forever Institute