University of Maryland Extension

Become a Master Naturalist

Why I Went to the Woods - and Into the Maryland Master Naturalist Program - a video by Chris Lancette (Audubon Naturalist Society, class of 2020)

How do I become a Maryland Master Naturalist?
Application to the program is made through the Host Site (see Volunteer Trainings links in column at right). Candidates must be 18 years old or older, and have transportation to training and volunteer activities. Trainees are selected based on their applications, references, and interviews. There is a fee of $250 due at the start of the course to cover the cost of materials.  Applicants must show an interest in natural resources and be able to read, write and comprehend the information presented in the training sessions. Applicants must be able to interact with and communicate that information to the general public. The Master Naturalist trainee must pass a final exam in order to volunteer in the program.

Individuals accepted into the Master Naturalist volunteer training program receive 52 hours of instruction, including hands-on activities and demonstrations, indoors and out. The course also includes at least 8 hours of a field trip or trips to a different site.

All classes and field trip(s) are taught by experts in the subject. The curriculum includes:

Introduction to Maryland Natural History
Flora and Fauna: Identification, Behavior and Taxonomy
Fundamental Ecological Principles
How Humans Affect the Landscape
The Science of Science
Teaching and Interpretation 

See the Master Naturalist Policies and Guidelines to learn more about training to become a Master Naturalist.

The Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Mountains Regions of Maryland

For our training purposes, we divide Maryland into three physiographic regions. The areas differ in their geographic features, plants, and animals. Applicants should choose a training course in the region where they plan to do volunteer work as a Master Naturalist.

The Coastal Plain Region is the farthest to the east and includes all the low-lying areas from the shores of the bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Eastern Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's Counties are all in our Coastal Plain Region, along with the eastern part of Baltimore City.

The Piedmont Region is more centrally located in the State of Maryland and is crossed by rivers descending toward the Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Frederick, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Baltimore and western Cecil Counties are in the Piedmont, along with the western part of Baltimore City.

The Mountain Region consists of western Maryland and is characterized by the Appalachian Plateaus, Ridge and Valley, and Blue Ridge provinces of the state. This region includes Garrett, Allegany, Washington and western Frederick Counties.

For more information: Contact Joy Rafey at or 410-531-0534
Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2021. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.