Summer Master Naturalist Course

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 with the goal of giving you an essential foundation of skill and knowledge on which you can build.

Summer 2021 Master Naturalist Certification Course


This is a five-day intensive course held in June each year. Class meets from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. Christine Morris, Community Programs Coordinator at the Montana Natural History Center, is the primary instructor.

This class is compressed into a short window of time so we will delve deeply into three subjects. Our focus will be on learning the core skills of identification of:  1) flowers and trees, 2) birds, and 3) insects. Instruction will also include time on local geology, mammals, fire ecology, and riparian ecology.

We’ll take full advantage of the early summer season and spend most of our time afield. From 9:00-2:00 we will work together exploring the great landscape around us. From 2:00-5:00 we may be catching up on topics we need more time with, working on assignments in our naturalist journals, and gaining individual mentorship from the instructors.

We will spend time in the cottonwood galleries of the river’s floodplain and venture to the conifer forest on Lolo Pass. Get a handle on plant identification by recognizing patterns in form, catch and identify butterflies along the Clark Fork River, and recognize birds by song and sight.

COVID precautions: We will follow all the most current best practices concerning covid precautions during this class. We will meet outside for most of the day, wear masks, and social distance. If it is not possible for us to safely take our MNHC bus, we will need to drive ourselves in our personal vehicles.

“After completing this course, I felt much more closely connected to my Montana home, but the best part is being able to share my new naturalist skills with others so they can find their sense of place as well.”  ~2017 Master Naturalist

Master Naturalist Certification Requirements:

  • 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 in the afternoon reviewing and organizing your daily notes, and tracking your observations.
  • Attend at least 40 hours of instruction.
  • Complete the culminating exercise.

Please Note:
This is a university-level class. A significant amount of information is covered in 5 days. It is fun!—but also work to be proud of and take seriously.

Updated 2021 syllabus coming soon.


  • The course is full, click here to join the waitlist.
  • Cost: $395 for members; $425 for non-members
  • 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.
  • 2 UM credits available (pending approval). This course is listed as University of Montana ENST 391.