Tim Kennelty - Master Naturalist
Image by Tim Kennelty

Learn about New York's Master Naturalist Program with Kristi Sullivan

Episode 107: Master Naturalist Program

Are you a nature lover? Are you interested in conservation or habitat restoration? Do you have a passion for our natural environment or want to learn more about the ecosystems, habitats, plants, and animals of New York State? Then this program might be for you!

The Master Naturalist Program is a science-based training program designed to teach adults about New York’s natural resources, empowering them to educate others and participate in on-the-ground conservation and monitoring projects.

The Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley podcast team had the opportunity to meet with Kristi Sullivan, Director, NY Master Naturalist Program and Extension Associate, at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. With a focus on natural resources and the environment, Kristi was a ‘natural’ to create the Master Naturalist Program in New York State.

Over 500 people have completed this adult education program, with ~100+ active volunteers (who have reported their hours) in any given year. Only 30 people are admitted into the program each year, so there is an application process to be followed to ensure broader coverage across the state. You can become a Master Naturalist by taking the 16-hour mandatory “Naturalist Trainee” course, supplemented by 14 hours of additional coursework and 30 hours of volunteer work tailored to your personal interests. The mandatory “Naturalist Trainee” course is held at Cornell’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest located in Ithaca, NY. It covers topics such as reptiles and amphibians, invasive species identification and control, insects, bats, ferns, wildlife and more.

Volunteer opportunities may include “hands-on” management, conservation or monitoring activities, or educational outreach. Examples of appropriate volunteer activities include working with a local land trust or nearby park to remove or monitor invasive species, collecting citizen science data for an ongoing program, inventorying wildflowers at a local park or preserve, participating in riparian buffer plantings or restoration, conducting wildlife surveys, contributing to water quality monitoring or research. Potential outreach activities may include leading a “woods walk”, writing articles, giving presentations, or developing educational brochures. Each Master Naturalist can pursue volunteer activities tailored to her/his own interests and strengths.

Always remember that YOU can make a difference in the natural environment.

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Kristi Sullivan

Photo by: Tim Kennelty

Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, Annie Scibienski



Xandra Powers
Community Horticulture Coordinator
518-828-3346 x106

Last updated February 8, 2024