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posted: 7/31/2014 1:14 PM

Extension seeks volunteers for naturalist training

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Submitted by University of Illinois Extension

Do you have a passion for conservation and natural resources? Are you interested in volunteer opportunities? University of Illinois Extension will begin a new season of its Master Naturalist training program, for DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties, in August.

"The University of Illinois Master Naturalist program is designed to educate and train a corps of volunteers who specialize in conservation, management and interpretation of our natural resources," said Program Coordinator Sarah Fellerer. "The program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards."

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Training sessions will be 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays Aug. 20-Oct. 22, plus three Saturday morning field trips. Topics are presented by local experts and include botany, herpetology, ornithology, prairies, soils, watersheds, mammals and more. Master Naturalist volunteers are required to complete 40 hours of classroom and field education, in addition to 60 hours of volunteer time.

Volunteer projects vary widely in the Master Naturalist program, Fellerer said. In 2013, projects included butterfly, frog, snake and rare plant monitoring, prairie restoration, invasive species control, and injured animal care.

In 2013, a corps of 33 active Master Naturalists volunteered more than 1,500 hours working with local and national organizations such as the DuPage, Kane and Kendall Forest Preserves, Fermi Lab, and the Northern Illinois Raptor and Rehab Center.

Applicants will be asked to fill out an application form and will be formally interviewed. Once accepted into the program, a $250 fee is collected to cover classroom and field training, as well as the full-color Illinois Master Naturalist Manual.

To learn more, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/mn/. For more information on becoming a certified Master Naturalist, contact Fellerer at (630) 553-5823 or at fellerer@illinois.edu. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, make this known when you apply.

University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

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