Frequently Asked Questions

How much time does the program involve?

A lot. Plan on devoting at least 150 hours and probably much more to the following components:

  • Classes and field trips: 100 hours
  • Completing assignments at home and at delimited study site; keeping track of phenology; writing in a Nature Journal
  • Individual time learning to use keys, bird watching, attending relevant seminars or outings at land trusts or other properties, and spending time outdoors observing as much as you can manage

If you wonder whether you have the time to take the course and fulfill the requirements, please carefully consider the significant commitment involved.

What does tuition cover?

Tuition, due a week after an applicant receives an offer of admission, covers the following items:

  • Core books used in instruction, including at least: Forest Trees of Maine, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, Newcombs Wildflower Guide, Plant Identification Terminology: an Illustrated Glossary, Fern Finder, Vernal Pools, Track Finder, Winter Tree Finder, Winter Weed Finder
  • Some tools of the trade: hand lens, dissecting kit, bug box and others
  • Administrative expenses

Do you offer scholarships?

We regret that we aren’t able to offer scholarships. Program income is just enough to cover expenses. Sometimes students have found other organizations to sponsor them, for example land trusts that would benefit from a student’s volunteering after the course.

Are instructors and course coordinators paid positions?

No. All instructors, course coordinators, and board members volunteer their time to MMNP. They are role models for future graduates who will go on to volunteer their services as trained Master Naturalists.

Is MMNP affiliated with another institution?

No. MMNP stands alone as a 501(c)3 and is not affiliated with any other institution.

What background, knowledge, and skills do you look for in an applicant?

MMNP seeks applicants with the following characteristics:

  • Ongoing interest in the outdoors
  • Basic knowledge of and curiosity about the natural world
  • Time available to fulfill course requirements
  • Demonstrated history of volunteering in the community

Does the course require me to collect live specimens?

Yes. Students are required to collect and preserve specimens from trees, ferns, and wildflowers, as well as insects. These collections aid the students’ understanding of these specimens and are useful when teaching others.

As a student, do I need to be familiar with technology?

Yes. Technology plays an important part in the MMNP program. We disseminate course materials using Google Drive and communicate frequently via e-mail. Students print course materials for every class. Our leadership team is available to help with tutoring and support.

For whom is the program not a good fit?

If you’re looking for skills for employment as a naturalist, you need a college/university degree. We ask graduates to fulfill their volunteering commitment in a setting outside their place of employment. Given our mission to train volunteers who will share their skills with others, if you know you will never be comfortable volunteering in that way, this course is not for you. If you already have extensive training and skills, you may find the material too elementary. 

Do you accept auditors?

No. Space is limited and demand is high. MMNP accepts only individuals who can make a full commitment to the course.

What happens if I can’t attend all of the classes?

Participants may miss (and make up the work for) for one class only, so check the schedule carefully to make sure that you do not have conflicts. Students are responsible for arranging a make-up session.

What are the requirements after graduation?

In the year following the course, MMNP requires graduates to volunteer 40 hours sharing their knowledge of nature with others. In subsequent years the volunteering requirement is 20 hours per year.

What is the refund policy? Do you have a payment plan?

If a student withdraws before the first class, the refund is the tuition amount less $20.00. If a student withdraws prior to the third class, refund is 20% of tuition. Thereafter, no refund will be issued.

MMNP can set up a payment plan; ask the course coordinator for details.