Maryland Master Naturalist Training

Maryland Master Naturalist logo 

Would you like a chance to learn more about the natural world and our place in it? Would you volunteer your time to share the wonder of Nature with others, to assist in ecological research, and strive to make your community a healthier, happier place?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may have the makings of a Maryland Master Naturalist.

What is a Maryland Master Naturalist?

Pelican Banding by Department of Natural Resources staffMaryland Master Naturalists are interested, ecologically aware people who have successfully completed a fun but rigorous natural history training program, and who “pay it forward” with 40 hours of volunteer work annually. They participate in community science efforts, teach classes, lead field trips, and continue to learn and share their enthusiasm for Maryland’s natural areas and the life forms that occupy them.

Developed in cooperation with the University of Maryland Extension, the MD Master Naturalist Program (MDMN) provides scientific training in the fields of natural history, ecology, interpretation and the place of humans in the natural world. Specific coursework includes topics tailored to Maryland: geology, birds, fish, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians, plants, climate, interpretation, and the science that holds it all together. The training includes 60 hours of classroom and field experience; hands-on training is emphasized in a science-based context. Throughout the training program, Master Naturalists are tested on their content knowledge. In addition, they complete a final project highlighting interpretation skills on a topic of their choice. Collaborative group work is encouraged.

Left: Bog Turtle surveys by P. Becker; Right:  Botany Class by C. Frye

Master Naturalist programs began to pop up around the country, beginning over ten years ago in Texas. Citizens wanted to learn more about their natural surroundings. Over 20 states have developed programs to connect residents with their natural communities.

Similar to the way Master Gardener programs are organized, the MD Master Naturalist program requires candidates to donate 40 hours of volunteer work in the first year to the organization hosting their training. To maintain certification, MD Master Naturalists continue to volunteer an additional 40 hours each year. In-depth training in advanced topics will also be available.

Training in Anne Arundel County

Tree planting by Department of Natural Resources staff

Classes, which will focus on the natural history of Maryland’s Coastal Plain, will be held on Wednesdays, from 5:30pm to 9:30pm, at Maryland Department of Natural Resources headquarters, the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis. Three field days will also be scheduled on Saturdays, to practice identification skills and research techniques. Expert instructors will be on hand to guide Master Naturalists and to share tips and tools of the trade.

Northern Saw-whet Owl, photo by Kerry WixtedThe curriculum includes:

    • Introduction to Maryland Natural History
    • Flora and Fauna: Identification, Behavior and Taxonomy
    • Fundamental Ecological Principles
    • How Humans Affect the Landscape
    • The Science of Science
    • Teaching and Interpretation

For more information on the Maryland Master Naturalist Program, policies, fees, application process and class details, visit the University of Maryland Extension at:

Registration Information for Spring 2020

Registration for the spring 2020 training is now full. To be placed on the waitlist, please email Paula Becker at To find additional Master Naturalist training courses, please visit:

Or contact:

Paula Becker
Wildlife and Heritage Service
580 Taylor Ave, E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410-260-8568
Fax: 410-260-8596

Click here for a Brochure

Photo Credits:

Pelican Banding by Maryland Department of Natural Resources Staff
Bog Turtle surveys by P. Becker
Tree Planting by Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff
Botany Class by C. Frye
Northern Saw-whet Owl by K. Wixted


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 Anne Arundel County Recreation & Parks logo


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