Montana Master Naturalist | Montana Audubon


Montana Master Naturalist

The goal of the Montana Master Naturalist Program is to increase natural history knowledge and promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of Montana’s natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities. The core of this program is the Montana Master Naturalist Certification Course, which is approximately 45 hours of classroom and field time. The Montana Audubon Center is the home for this program in Billings and works with the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula to offer state-wide certification. Students who complete the course become certified as Montana Master Naturalists. To maintain their certification, Montana Master Naturalists are required to log 20 hours of volunteer service and participate in 8 hours of continuing education annually.


“The Master Naturalist class has truly enriched my life. I am more observant now than I ever was. How rewarding to know even more about the living things I share the environment with.” ~D.M., Billings Master Naturalist student 2018

This was an excellent course.  It left me wanting to learn even more, and gave me the resources to do so on my own.” ~M.H., Billings Master Naturalist student 2020

Certification Course Offerings

At this time we do not have plans to run the course in 2024. If you would like to be notified when we offer it next, please fill out this quick form- Montana Master Naturalist Interest Form.

For all other inquiries please email Emily Chilcoat at [email protected] or call us at 406-294-5099.

Resources for Master Naturalist Graduates

To maintain their certification, Master Naturalists are required to complete 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education each calendar year.

Submit Your Hours Here>>

If you need the password, please contact Christine Morris ([email protected]) at the Montana Natural History Center

Recertification Deadline: January 1. For example, if you graduated in 2020, your deadline is Jan. 1st, 2022.

Stay in the loop for continuing education & volunteer opportunities in the Billings area. Join the Master Naturalist graduate Google Group by contacting Emily Chilcoat, at [email protected]

Criteria for Volunteer Service

The activity needs to:

  • relate to Montana’s natural or environmental cultural history
  • occur in Montana unless you live out of state
  • be sponsored by an organization
  • be unpaid

Each volunteer service activity may fit under one of these categories:  Citizen Science, Stewardship, Education, Organizational Support, Other.

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 (iNaturalist, eBird)
  • 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

Stewardship includes natural resource management activities. Examples include:

  • Removing invasive weeds
  • 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 includes the presentation and/or development of educational materials.  Examples include:

  • Assisting in teaching visitors about wildflowers at a nature center
  • Writing a Field Note or educational article for publication in a magazine or newsletter
  • 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.)

Organizational Support projects include working to ensure the functioning of any conservation/environmental organizations. Examples include:

  • Preparing mailings
  • Answering phones
  • Computer work
  • Organizing a digital library
  • Serving as a board member
  • Assisting with events, lectures, fundraising

Other projects should be described when you submit hours


Criteria for 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, MT Audubon, or other organizations
  • Because we have some great documentary film festivals 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!

Where to find continuing education opportunities in the Billings’ area:

  • Montana Audubon Center
  • Montana State Parks
  • Montana Native Plant Society
  • MSU-B and Rocky Mountain College — classes and lectures in Biology, Environmental Studies, Wildlife Biology, etc.
  • Pompey’s Pillar National Monument
  • Western Heritage Center
  • Wild Montana (formerly know as Montana Wilderness Association)
  • Yellowstone Art Museum
  • Yellowstone Forever Institute

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