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 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, supplementing that with a couple of lectures and labs to deepen our knowledge.

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. The final day will be spent at the National Bison Range.

“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 each evening after class 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.

Check out the 2019 summer syllabus here.


  • Call 327.0405 or click here to register online.
  • 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.
  • Ask us about scholarships!–please contact us at 327.0405 for details.

Summer 2021 Master Naturalist Certification Course

Exact dates TBD, but will be a Monday-Friday the second or third week of June.