Master Naturalist Recertification

To maintain their certification, Master Naturalists are required to complete 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education each calendar year. 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 such citizen volunteers for implementing youth education programs; for operating parks, nature centers, and natural areas; and for providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. 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 2020, your deadline is Jan. 1st, 2022.


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, and pay a $25 recertification fee. The continuing education must be provided by classes or field days, not lectures.

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
  • be sponsored by an organization
  • be unpaid

Each volunteer service activity should fit under one of the four categories:  Stewardship, Education/Intepretation, Citizen Science, or Program Support.

Stewardship includes natural resource management activities. Examples include:

  • Leading an invasive species removal project
  • 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/Interpretation includes the presentation and development of educational materials.  Examples include:

  • Assisting in teaching visitors about wildflowers at a nature center
  • Leading or assisting with a natural history hike
  • 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.)

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
  • 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

Program Support projects include working in a store or office of the Montana Master Naturalist Program or other conservation/environmental organizations. Examples include:

  • Preparing mailings
  • Answering phones
  • Computer work
  • Organizing a digital library
  • Serving as a board member

Examples that would NOT be included as Montana Master Naturalist volunteer service:

  • Counting turtle eggs in Costa Rica
  • Cleaning cat cages at the humane shelter
  • Maintaining a private plant nursery
  • Collecting phenology data at your cabin that is not reported to an organized group

Where to find volunteer service opportunities:
Please click here for a listing of Missoula area (and beyond) opportunities.
For a listing of nationwide projects, click here.

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

Examples include:

  • 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!

Examples that are NOT Montana Master Naturalist continuing education:

  • Watching TV (even if it is a Montana nature-related show)
  • Birding with friends
  • Identifying trees at your cabin with family
  • Reading a Montana natural history book
  • Giving a natural history lecture (this would fall in the volunteering category, as long as it was unpaid)
  • Researching & writing natural history articles (again, this would fall into the volunteering category, as long as it’s unpaid)

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