What is the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program?

Master Naturalists Kayking down the Niobrara River

Who we are

The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program is an adult conservation and environmental education program that combines indoor presentations and hands-on field experiences to teach conservation volunteers about Nebraska's natural resources. This training provides an introduction to a variety of natural science disciplines, including grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, and aquatic ecosystems, and puts you in charge of your volunteer experience while preparing you to be a certified conservation volunteer. Each topic is taught by a natural resource professional who is an expert in their field. Please click here to learn more about the training.

What does it mean to become a Certified Master Naturalist?

Certified Master Naturalists are those who have completed 60 hours of training and have volunteered at least 20 hours of conservation service. They are recognized across the state as dedicated natural resource conservation volunteers. Master Naturalists-in-training provide volunteer service through a variety of skill sets, such as natural resource interpretation and education, outdoor skills and recreation, conservation and resource management, administrative and financial assistance, and citizen science and research. Master Naturalists thus employ their talents to support programs and organizations statewide who are in need of reliable, dedicated, and informed volunteers.

Who can become a Nebraska Master Naturalist?

If you are interested in dedicating your time to conserve Nebraska's natural resources, want to give back to your community, and are at least 19 years old, then we encourage you to apply. We are looking for individuals with a variety of talents to help us work together across the state.

What kind of background do I need?

All you need is an appetite for knowledge and the passion to give back to your community. You will be required to complete an application, an interview, and a successful background check before you are accepted into the program. This gives us a chance to get to know you better and make sure that this is the right program for you.

What if I already know about some of the topics, should I still take the training?

Master Naturalists are landowners, teachers, professionals, guides, college students, parents, retirees, and role models. Most individuals that come into our program know a thing or two about something and are able to share their skills and talents with the rest of the community. This program will introduce you to some new organizations, facilities, and network you with some of the best natural resource professionals and volunteers that our state has to offer.

Why is there an interview?

This certification requires a strong interest in nature, a dedication to life-long learning, and a significant time commitment. The interview process is a way for us to get to know you, to make sure you fully understand the program expectations, and to determine if the Master Naturalist program is a good fit for your schedule.

Nebraska Master Naturalist with a crayfish


How long does the certification take?

You will participate in nearly sixty hours of in-depth training. There are several formats available, so be sure to check the homepage for details. After your training is complete you must volunteer 20 hours and complete 8 hours of continuing education annually through a habitat restoration project, youth mentoring program, environmental education program, as a citizen scientist, or other areas of interest in the natural resources field. We will work with you to design your volunteer experience. You will be required to report this information to the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program. Once your hours are complete you are officially a certified Nebraska Master Naturalist. You have one year from the conclusion of your training to complete the volunteer hours and continuing education.

Certified Nebraska Master Naturalists can learn about butterflies and flowers

How long do I have to complete my hours?

Once you have completed your training, you will have one year to complete your 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education to the natural resource community. You must complete your hours to retain your certification.

Who teaches the classes?

Explore Nebraska alongside the experts! Nebraska's scientists, naturalists, faculty, and natural resource professionals will guide you through the natural wonders of this state and teach you the skills you need to become a certified Nebraska Master Naturalist.

Where can I volunteer once I am certified?

Anywhere that uses highly qualified volunteers! As a certified Nebraska Master Naturalist, you will be connected with volunteer opportunities at universities, natural resource agencies, and non-profits throughout Nebraska. These opportunities will be provided to you through the Master Naturalist listserv, as well as available through our member program websites. If you have a specific place that you prefer to volunteer, let us know so that we can consider them for our list of Program Partners. Much of our communication is done via the internet at this time, however, we are willing to work with you. If you do not have an e-mail address, please contact us and we'll help you set one up.

What can I do as a Master Naturalist?

The opportunities are endless. They include habitat restoration on private or public land, citizen science (i.e. breeding bird surveys), environmental education at a nature center, volunteering in a park or zoo, eco-tourism, mentoring of youth hunters and anglers, outdoor cooking, geocaching, and so much more. Visit our partner websites to view more natural resource volunteer opportunities..

Additional Questions

If you want to know more, just give us a call at 402-937-8601. We look forward to hearing from you!