The Master Naturalist Program

Protect and Enhance the Nation's Natural Resource Base and Environment
Research Year: 

Many communities and organizations rely on citizen volunteers for implementing youth education programs, operating parks, nature centers and natural areas, and for providing leadership in local natural resource conservation efforts. The Master Naturalist program in Coconino County is directed at creating a corps of well-informed volunteers to deliver quality environmental education programs and promoe stewardship of Arizona's natural environment.

Description of Action: 

Cooperative Extension in Coconino County created a program in the fall of 2003 called master Naturalists that is similar to Master Gardener programs. Volunteers undergo nine weeks of training focusing on plants, (invasive weeds and ethnobotany), wildlife habitat, water and drought issues, climatology, forest health and fire ecology, interpretation and education, conservation, geology, local history (evolutionary and early naturalists. At the end of the training, they give back 40 hours in service to organizations and agencies of northern Arizona. Training will be increased by two weeks in the autumn of 2004.

In 2003, 21 volunteers focused on the invasive nature of noxious weeds. They were provided with education in prevention, detection, control methods and restoration.


In 2003, volunteer master naturalists in the Flagstaff area picked up 50 bags of noxious weeds along trails in the area while on class time. They have played a primary role in educating the county board of supervisors regarding the sources and distribution of noxious weeds.

Other volunteers have provided woodworking skills in designing and building signs and educational materials for the Willow Bend Environmental Center Natural Resource Conservation District. One of the Master Naturalist student's efforts in particular were cited as an "incredible contribution to Willow Bend" by one of the Center's members. Volunteers from the Master Naturalist program are also assisting at The Arboretum at Flagstaff (20 hours), with The Museum of Northern Arizona, Arizona Game and Fish Ferret Relocation Program (16 hours), and with the National Park Service.

The program has just begun, so total impact on time and dollars will not be available until summer 2004. The State of Texas calculates volunteer time at a rate of $16 per hour with their Master Naturalist program and other volunteer activities. At this rate, the Arizona program has already saved local agencies hundreds of dollars while giving back to the community in education and community service.

Funding Agencies: 

Flagstaff Community Foundation

Conact Name: 
Wade Albrecht
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Coconino County Cooperative Extension

The University of Arizona

2304 N. 3rd Street

Flagstaff, AZ 86004-3605

(928) 774-1868 office (928) 774-1860 fax