The mission of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is to promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of Minnesota’s natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities.

Our core biome courses are designed to give a general overview of one of Minnesota's three biomes:

  • Big Woods, Big Rivers - Eastern broadleaf forest
  • Prairies and Potholes - Prairie parkland
  • North Woods, Great Lakes - Laurentian mixed forest

Each biome training course includes 40 hours of lectures, hands-on activities, videos and field trips that cover in-depth, specific aspects of Minnesota's natural history. After completion of the core course, you will be a certified Master Naturalist in the biome that you take, and you need only take one biome course to start volunteering.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, in-person courses require participants to comply with safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing. Specific, updated requirements will be emailed to you before the course begins. Registrants should be aware that in-person courses may be cancelled, suspended and/or moved to online formats based on guidance from local health department officials and University of Minnesota safety requirements. If the course is cancelled, you will receive a full refund.

If your course is suspended or moved online we will contact you with options.

All books and necessary materials are included in the course fee, and will be provided to you during your first class. If your course takes place
online, materials will be mailed to the address you provide during the registration process.

Prairies & Potholes

The official name for the ecological province called the Prairies & Potholes by the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is the Prairie Parkland Province. This biome was historically composed mainly of tallgrass prairie. Today it is used for agricultural purposes. The glaciers deposited between 100 and 600 feet of drift over the entire region. The Prairies & Potholes biome covers just over 16 million acres on the western edge of the state.

The biome is a hot and dry place, where evapotranspiration is annually higher than precipitation. In the northern portions of the biome, glacial kettles have filled with water and form the "potholes" that dot the landscape. These bodies of water are important for migratory waterfowl, and waterfowl production. The Minnesota River now flows through the old channel carved by Glacial River Warren, an outlet for Glacial Lake Agassiz.

Attendance and Capstone Project

Participants must complete the full 40 hours of training to become a certified Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

Each participant must complete a group capstone project. Capstone options will be presented on the first day of class, and participants will choose a capstone that they can work on and complete before finishing the course.

Volunteer Service

Following the completion of the training course, Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers will be expected to complete 40 hours of volunteer service per year to be considered an active Master Naturalist. Any time spent on the capstone project and any volunteer service hours completed after graduating from the training course may be counted towards the 40 hours. There are four basic areas of service:
  • Stewardship. Natural resource management activities such as invasive species removal or restoration projects.
  • Education/Interpretation. Public presentations of natural resource information, educational materials development, or leading hikes.
  • Citizen Science. Data collection and other support for research projects. Examples include Monarch larval monitoring, plant or animal counts, or water quality monitoring.
  • Program Support. Projects include working in a store or office of the Minnesota Master Naturalist or sponsor or serving as a local chapter organizer.

Course content questions


Registration questions

Extension Registration, ext-reg@umn.edu

User Name or Password help

UMN Help Desk, HELP@umn.edu, 612-301-4357

Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website for more information on this and upcoming courses.

The best way to register is to register online and pay with a credit card. If you must pay with a check contact ext-reg@umn.edu and we will provide a mail-in registration form. Thank you.


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
Required fields are indicated by .