Missouri Master Naturalists- Kansas City

Osage Trails Trails Chapter (KC Metro Region)


What is the Missouri Master Naturalist Program?

The Missouri Master Naturalist Program is a chapter-based community-based natural resource volunteer educational program sponsored by University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Currently 12 chapters have been organized across the state. MU Extension regional specialists and MDC resource professionals serve as chapter advisors in their respective area. 

Volunteers can enroll in training that is conducted at the chapter level and can receive certification after 40 hours of basic training, 8 hours of advanced training, an individual or group capstone, and 40 hours of volunteer service are completed. Volunteers maintain certification by completing an additional 8 hours of advanced training and 40 hours of approved volunteer service each year.

Who conducts the training and what’s involved?

Basic training consists of a minimum of 40 hours of combined classroom and field experience. Educational programs include some of the traditional disciplines such as ornithology and botany, as well as learning about important ecological concepts, wildlife biology, invasive species, forest management and land use history. Other topics include an overview of Missouri eco-regions, natural resource management practices, interpretation and communication. Instructors come from local colleges or universities, and state and federal agencies.  Each participant is provided a file box of full of natural resource educational materials.

Advanced training provides 8 hours or more of classroom and field experience that is focused on a particular area of interest. Advanced training is conducted at the chapter level and supplemented by activities that are sponsored at the state level, such as an annual state conference. 

As a certified Master Naturalist, what would I do?

Volunteer community service projects are usually conducted with a group of local partners that have been identified at the chapter level. Projects run the gamut and might include construction and maintenance of interpretive trails, prairie restorations, stream management, invasive species removal, exotic species control, collecting data for fish, wildlife and plant inventories, conducting natural resource programs for adult and youth audiences in the community, working with private landowners or community leaders in developing natural resource management plans, outdoor skills instruction, natural resource interpretation at nature and visitors centers, creating and maintaining naturescaping demonstration areas, and much more.  A local chapter Volunteer Service Committee identifies natural resource-related needs in the community. Volunteers can then design their own projects to meet those identified needs.

What are my responsibilities as a certified Master Naturalist?

Once certified, it is the member’s responsibility to maintain certification. Members are expected to stay active in the local chapter and attend meetings, take advantage of advanced training offered through the local chapter, and keep accurate records of service hours.

Volunteers, may not profit from status or violate the policies, missions and goals of the sponsoring agencies that govern use of the Master Naturalist title.

What is a volunteer chapter?

Master Naturalist volunteers in a community organize into self-governing chapters, with MU Extension and MDC staff serving as chapter advisors.

Who administers the program?

The Missouri Master Naturalist program is a partnership of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and University of Missouri Extension.

How is the program supported?

This is a self-supporting, fee-based program. Volunteers are expected to pay a registration fee that partially defrays the costs of conducting the program. The Osage Trails Chapter does not collect additional fees or dues to support activities and events. Local partners also support the program by providing subject-matter expertise, making donations, supplying volunteer service opportunities and providing other in-kind services.


Members of the Osage Trails Chapter reside in the metropolitan Kansas City area. Training is held at local Missouri Department of Conservation facilities or locations of our more than two dozen non-profit partners. Monthly chapter meetings are rotated among various sites around the metro area.


Chapter meetings and include one hour of chapter-related business to include partner and committee updates as well as one hour of advanced training from a local expert in their field.

Recent chapter meeting advanced training topics have included:

  • An introduction to Homegrown National Park, our chapter’s theme for 2023.
  • An overview of Missouri’s natural resources, presented by Dru Buntin, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural (DNR).
  • Presentation by Crystal Parsons & Cindy McMannis a/k/a “The Turtle Ladies”: All about native Missouri Turtles, with hands-on “turtle time.”
  • Overview of Missouri’s non-flowering plants, presented by Osage Trails Missouri Master Naturalist Lee Ann Googe (class of 2010.)
  • Rearing Caterpillars for Fun and Education by Jackie Goetz, Idaila member, Master Gardener, and founder of the third Monarch Watch waystation, currently there are now more than 40K waystations.
  • Presentation on the Indian Nations of Western Missouri and the legacy of Fort Osage. Presented by David Bennett, former Jackson County Parks military Interpreter at Fort Osage, founder and coordinator of the Annual Fort Osage Fall Muster 1987-2023, member of the Company of Military Historians and “CAMP,” Council on America’s Past. David is also a prolific author, his recent book project is “A Moth on the Publik Purse”: An Unvarnished History of Fort Osage and its Garrison, 1808-1822.
  • A discussion on Missouri Woodpeckers, led by Dana Ripper and Ethan Duke, co-directors of Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO).