Course Information Orono 2024

Applications for the 2024 course are no longer being accepted


The course will be held in Orono.

2024 class dates

Weekday classes are 6 – 9 p.m., and weekend field days are generally 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. By submitting an application you are affirming that you will attend every class and that you do not have conflicts with scheduled dates including make-up dates for weather cancellations. If you miss a class due to an emergency, your graduation may be deferred until you can make up the class in the following year’s course.

Course fee

Tuition for the Orono course is  $650.

MMNP may offer tuition assistance to some who request it on their application. Additionally, Bangor Land Trust and MMNP will offer two full tuition scholarships for students who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.

COVID protocols

The course coordinators will determine masking requirements. 

Saturday 1/6
Saturday 1/20

Wednesday 2/7
Saturday 2/10

Saturday 3/9


Wednesday 4/24
Saturday 4/27


Saturday 5/18

Wednesday 6/5
Saturday 6/8


Wednesday 7/17
Saturday 7/20


Wednesday 8/14
Saturday 8/17

Wednesday 9/11
Saturday 9/14


Saturday 10/5

Volunteering requirement

In the year after the course, graduates are required to volunteer and report via the MMNP graduates’ website 20 hours of face-to-face teaching (not including prep time)  for nature-based organizations. Students set up their first volunteering commitments during the course. After the first year, graduates are expected to volunteer and report 10 hours per year.


The application for the 2024 class in Orono are no longer being accepted. Application decisions will be emailed by October 31.

Admissions criteria

MMNP seeks students with the following characteristics:

  • Basic knowledge of and ongoing curiosity about the natural world.
  • Time available to fulfill course requirements.
  • Demonstrated history of volunteering in the community.
  • A strong interest in learning more about Maine’s natural world, and enthusiasm for sharing this knowledge with others.
  • A clear goal for the course and for how to to give back through volunteering.

Advice for applicants

If you wonder whether you have the time to attend the classes and fulfill the requirements, please give careful consideration to the significant commitments involved. In addition to attending every class, you must be able to devote many hours outside of class studying, collecting, observing in the field, and preparing specimens.

If you worry that you are too busy to do the work, MMNP respectfully asks that you not apply. Every year some students drop out  because they realize they do not have enough time. Dropouts are regrettable because more applicants apply than the program can accept, and once the course is underway it is too late to offer a student’s spot to another deserving applicant. Click the arrows below to read student comments for a full understanding of the time commitment.

“The homework load and class time requirements were very demanding, and I had to steal time from or incorporate my nature studies with work, family, and other obligations. But what could be greater than to be “required” to spend more time in nature?”

“Before starting I didn’t have an accurate sense of the time the course would require. In doing the homework after the first class, it dawned on me that all the information presented in the classroom was intended as a gateway to my own explorations. I found I wanted to spend any time I had observing, sketching, and practicing. With every new topic, I’d start the process again of devoting whatever time I had to getting outside. I had to make the homework and classes a priority in my life to do justice to the course.”

“It is all so overwhelming for a while. The instructor kept saying that it’s all about layering, and it took me a while to get that. Now I realize that it’s really a lifetime of layering, and each discovery is a delightful new layer. What worked best for me was to take a couple of days off after the class to regroup. I always came away from class feeling like soooo much information had been crammed into a short period of time, and yet I loved learning about so many different topics.”

“The time commitment was as promised, substantial.  The class time was scheduled and all incredibly well spent, but doing the homework was the most time-consuming piece, requiring planning and dedication.  As with anything, the more time I put into it, the more I got out of it – in this case spiritually as well as intellectually.  I love leading nature walks.”

“The expectations from the beginning were straightforward, and I appreciated the emphasis that the course was going to be a lot of work. It was also good to be told ahead of time that there was strictness about attendance and accountability for your work. This made the program feel serious. It was also helpful to know that there were lots of applicants, so it was a very precious thing to have a spot in the course!”

“When I first began, I had not appreciated how much extra time outside of class I would be required to spend on each of the topics. But having to study independently was great in the end, and I learned a lot as I kept finding new ways of discovering information about what we were studying. It’s just hard to know ahead of time what that is going to be like.”